LIFE

Audrey Hepburn: 13 Little-Known Facts The Star Hid Behind Her Dainty Frame

by Jess Catcher
Jess grew up in Oklahoma before moving to New York to become a writer. She has a cat named Agnes.

When Audrey Hepburn appeared in her 1953 starring role in Roman Holiday, it didn’t take long for her talent and charm to make her one of the world’s most beloved actresses.

After earning an Oscar for her performance as the rebellious princess, she continued to steal our hearts with her iconic films.

She was born in Belgium with the much-more-of-a-mouthful name Edda Kathleen van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston, later changing it like many other stars for the more concise option. Her original moniker isn’t the only thing she kept hidden while she rose to fame, though.

Behind her dainty frame, Hepburn endured tragic hardships from the time she was a young girl during World War II — but she also found strength to persevere beyond each potential setback.

Take a look to see the secrets the classic actress kept from her fans for so long, and let us know in the comments if we missed any.

And don’t forget to SHARE with your friends!

[H/T: Today I Found Out]

Thumbnail source: Wikimedia Commons

1. She Struggled To Survive WWII

1. She Struggled To Survive WWII

As a teen, Hepburn and her mother were forced to live in a dark cellar for months during the war, and food was scarce. They just barely survived on grass and turnips.

2. Her Talent Could Have Gotten Her Killed

2. Her Talent Could Have Gotten Her Killed

As an accomplished ballerina at 14, she not only performed for fundraising events for the Dutch Resistance fighting against Nazi occupation, but also carried messages in her ballet slippers — both of which would have gotten her killed if ever discovered.

3. Her Father Abandoned Her Family

3. Her Father Abandoned Her Family

Joseph Hepburn-Ruston left his wife and daughter when Audrey was only 6 years old, something she called “the most traumatic event of my life.”

4. Rumors Swirled About Her Small Frame

4. Rumors Swirled About Her Small Frame

Her petite figure, never topping more than 110 lbs. throughout her life, caused several rumors about unhealthy eating habits, but it was actually the result of malnutrition she suffered as a child living in German-occupied Netherlands during WWII and developing conditions like asthma, jaundice, and anemia.

5. Her First Love Ended In Heartbreak

5. Her First Love Ended In Heartbreak

Hepburn was engaged to businessman James Hanson in 1952 and had gone as far as to set a date and have a dress specially made for the big day. Ultimately, she called it off because he wanted her to give up her career after they were married. She gave the dress away.

6. She Was Deathly Afraid Of Water

6. She Was Deathly Afraid Of Water

The fear she displayed while filming a scene in Two For the Road in which she had to be thrown into the pool was 100 percent real. Crew members stood close by, just off camera, in case anything went wrong and to help her feel more comfortable.

7. She Smoked Three Packs A Day

7. She Smoked Three Packs A Day

She developed the habit as a way of coping with her nerves and anxiety, claiming they helped calm her down.

8. She Had An Affair With William Holden

8. She Had An Affair With William Holden

While co-starring in Sabrina, Hepburn and Holden, who was married at the time, started a relationship. Hepburn hoped to marry Holden and start a family.

She ended things when she discovered his marriage and that he’d had a vasectomy.

9. She Didn't Think Of Herself As Beautiful

9. She Didn't Think Of Herself As Beautiful

Despite being revered as one of the most classically attractive actresses of all time, she called her looks a “mixture of defects.” 

10. Her First Husband Was Jealous Of Her Success

10. Her First Husband Was Jealous Of Her Success

Fellow actor Mel Ferrer felt overshadowed by his wife’s much more successful career, and infidelity rose on both sides. Hepburn was allegedly close with her Two For the Road co-star Albert Finney.

After divorcing Ferrer in 1968, she was said to have only spoken with him twice the rest of her life, despite having a son together.

11. Her Mom Wasn't A Fan Of Ferrer

11. Her Mom Wasn't A Fan Of Ferrer

In letters to her daughter before the divorce, Hepburn’s mother frowned on his having been married five times and described him as a “frog faced delinquent with spindly legs.” 

12. She Had Trouble Starting A Family

12. She Had Trouble Starting A Family

Hepburn was determined to be a mom, but over the course of her life she suffered four miscarriages, one of them happening after she was thrown from a horse on the set of The Unforgiven

She took a break from acting with her next pregnancy and was finally able to welcome her first of two sons.

13. She Wasn't Supposed To Be In 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'

13. She Wasn't Supposed To Be In 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'

Although she and author Truman Capote were good friends, he had originally wanted Marilyn Monroe in the iconic role and was never happy about Hepburn being cast instead.

Did we miss any tragic secrets hiding in Audrey’s life? Let us know below and be sure to SHARE with your friends!