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Interesting Facts About Audrey Hepburn's Life You Probably Never Knew

Updated August 4, 2021 228.8k views14 items

Audrey Hepburn is quite possibly one of Hollywood's most timeless stars. Born in Belgium in 1929, she went on to become an actress, model, dancer, and humanitarian, as well as a beauty and fashion legend. Audrey Hepburn's movies and her signature style stood the test of time, revered decades after she passed in 1993. But there are plenty of things about Audrey Hepburn's life most people don't know. Despite being a beloved Hollywood starlet, her life wasn't all roses.

Away from the camera, she faced struggles and triumphs. There are plenty of amazing facts about Audrey Hepburn that go beyond her movies. Dysfunctional parents, two high profile and failed marriages, and a lifetime of medical issues and poor health were also part of the reality behind the public facade. Here are some of the things you probably didn't know about Audrey Hepburn.

  • Photo: Unknown author / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    She Won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, And Tony Awards

    Hepburn is one of a handful of performers who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award - also known as an EGOT. Within a year of winning the Oscar for Roman Holiday, she won an Emmy in 1954, for her performance in the play Ondine. Her 1994 Grammy was awarded posthumously not for her singing, which was regarded as thin, but for the 1992 spoken word children's album, Audrey Hepburn's Enchanted Tales

    Her Emmy was for the 1993 Gardens of the World With Audrey Hepburn. Her Oscar win was no fluke; she would be nominated on four other occasions, including Breakfast At Tiffany's and Sabrina.

  • Photo: Rob Bogaerts/Anefo / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Hepburn Retired In 1967 To Pursue Humanitarian Causes

    Hepburn essentially retired after her 1967 film Wait Until Dark, despite receiving her fifth and final Oscar nomination. Although she would eventually return to the screen on a few occasions, she was determined to work on humanitarian efforts involving children. She became so involved with UNICEF, the United Nations children's organization she was named UNICEF's Goodwill ambassador in 1988. 

    She would spend the last years of her life on the ground in such places as Somalia, Ethiopia, and Bangladesh, providing aid and raising awareness. Hepburn maintained that, following World War II, it was the efforts of UN relief organizations that greatly helped her and other children in the Netherlands, and she wished to repay this debt of gratitude.

  • Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0

    Audrey And Katharine Hepburn Are Not Related

    Audrey and Katharine Hepburn are not related. Katharine Hepburn was born and raised by American parents in Connecticut. Audrey Hepburn's parents were both first-generation Europeans with no American relatives. In fact, Audrey Hepburn's father's real first name was Joseph Anthony Ruston. He would eventually add Hepburn to his last name because he was allegedly related to one of the husbands of Mary, Queen of Scots.

    Audrey Hepburn's actual name was Audrey Kathleen Ruston. She would assume the Hepburn surname when she began to pursue an acting career. 

  • Photo: Trailer Screenshot / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Hepburn Was The Second Highest Paid Woman In Hollywood During Her Time - Second Only To Elizabeth Taylor

    Audrey Hepburn was paid $750,000 for her role in Breakfast At Tiffany's, making her the second highest-paid actress of the period behind Elizabeth Taylor. Reportedly, she received $1,100,000 for My Fair Lady, both a far cry from the $12,500 she received for Roman Holiday

    She must have invested her money wisely, because her estate was valued at $100,000,000 at the time of her passing and has served as the endowment for the Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund, a charity that continues her humanitarian work.