Through fashionable Paris in the footsteps of Audrey Hepburn

    04 Feb 2015
    Clock 15min      Length2mi
    3 ratings

    Rue St-Honoré

    Pay wave

    The narrow streets tell you that you are walking into an older Paris, getting closer to its historic centre. As you take in the scene, I'll fill in some background about Audrey's early life.

    When she was born in Brussels in 1929, her name was Audrey Kathleen Ruston. Her father was a British businessman who adopted the name Hepburn-Ruston, believing that he was descended from the noble Scottish family of Hepburn. Her mother came from Dutch aristocracy and was known as Baroness van Heemstra. Both of Audrey's parents had been married to other people before and Audrey grew up with two half-brothers from her mother's previous marriage.

    Her early childhood involved constant travelling with her parents. Audrey was sent to an English boarding school at the ripe old age of ... five. When she was six, her father walked out on the family. Audrey sought solace in ballet lessons. But even that was disrupted when her mother took her back to the Netherlands because she feared being separated from her daughter by the looming war.

    In May 1940, the Germans invaded Holland. Food and fuel became scarce and all the family properties were confiscated. Audrey kept up dance classes until she became too undernourished to continue.

    After the war, Audrey regained her strength and continued to dance, first in Amsterdam, then in England, where she began her acting career with roles on the London stage. She had small parts in several British films, including one called "Monte Carlo Baby," filmed on location in the south of France.

    While she was there, she met Colette, the author of the novel "Gigi." At the time, the author was looking for an actress to play Gigi in a Broadway play. Colette spotted Audrey in the Hotel de Paris. Audrey was 22, but she looked much younger, and Colette immediately decided she was perfect for the part. This was Audrey's first big break.

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