Daughter Mary often gives gifts to those she loves for no reason. If she sees something unique, or an item people probably wouldn’t buy for themselves, she buys it without hesitation. I have many of these gifts, and must admit they always turn out to be things I can use and enjoy. At the time I receive them I might scratch my head and wonder what she was thinking. Mary can visualize much better than most people.
Another recent gift from Mary is a book titled, “What Would Audrey Do? by Pamela Keogh. Since I have always been a fan of the charming Ms. Hepburn, I would like to share parts of the book, not in any particular order.
“It is almost as if the gods had smiled down and chosen her. By the age of 25 she had survived the Nazis, almost starved to death, kissed Gregory Peck, met Givenchy, … won an Oscar, won a Tony, been engaged, been alone, grown up without her father, been discovered by William Wyler, charmed Colette, posed for a soap ad in London, and been on the cover of Time magazine when appearing on the cover of Time meant something.
She was born Edda Kathleen van Heemstra Hepburn Ruston in Brussels on May 4, 1929. Her mother was a Dutch baroness whose own aspirations of becoming an actress and opera singer were discounted by her family because of their place in society. ‘When I was younger,’ she once said, ‘I wanted to be thin, beautiful, and an actress, now isn’t it ironic that I have a daughter who’s all three?’
Audrey’s father, Joseph Hepburn-Ruston, was a charming Anglo-Irish businessman with strong Nazi inclinations. The Hepburn-Rustons had a difficult marriage, made worse by Joseph’s support of Hitler, his alcohol abuse, and his eventual decision to channel some of his in-laws’ wealth toward fascist causes. …
In May 1935, Ruston did the unthinkable: He walked out on his wife and 6-year-old daughter on the eve of World War II, leaving them to fend for themselves. The loss of Audrey’s father haunted Audrey well into adulthood and her two failed marriages. She considered her father’s disappearance “the most traumatic event in my life” and remembered that her mother’s hair turned white overnight.
Audrey never took a single acting lesson ... never had formal training. She studied dance before she did films, and had voice lessons before her “Gigi” appearance on Broadway, to help her voice project beyond the first few rows. But beyond that, it was pure instinct. Or very good natural ability.
“God kissed her on the cheek, and there she was,” said Billy Wilder.
Her rule No. 1: Be memorable. As a star, or even an unforgettable person making your way in the world, you do not want to be like everyone else. Her sense of appropriateness and decorum was happily mixed with a sense of irony and humor — not taking yourself too seriously, but seriously enough.
Rule No. 2: Be modest. Audrey had a very real modesty that was encouraged by her upbringing. A modesty that was rare to come by — and not at all encouraged in Hollywood. … Audrey never forgot where she came from. This core of certainty was one of her strengths. Years later, she would remember something her mother said to her: “Considering that you have no talent, it’s really extraordinary where you’ve got.”
“She said it in the middle of all the lovely successes I was having. She wasn’t putting me down,” Audrey reasoned. “She was saying how fortunate I was.”
Rule No. 3: Maintain a sense of wonder about your life and the world.
Some AH advice on how to be a star in our own life:
Take yourself seriously. Audrey was lighthearted, but never silly. You are a star — act like one. Look the part. Surround yourself with great people. Have a vision. Move beyond your fears. Don’t be afraid to disappear. She felt that she needed to conserve her energy and not fritter it away socializing.