Birthdate: Saturday, May 4th, 1929
Location: Brussels, Belgium
Died: Wednesday, January 29th, 1993
Location: Vaud, Switzerland
Cause of death: Appendiceal cancer
Best known for: Actress who became an icon of Hollywood chic in the role of Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), and in later life became a hard-working humanitarian for UNICEF. She was nominated for five Oscars, but only ever won Best Actress for Roman Holiday in 1953 (the others were for Sabrina, The Nun's Story, Breakfast at Tiffany's and Wait Until Dark, beaten by Grace Kelly, Simone Signoret, Sophia Loren and Katharine Hepburn respectively). And by the way, she was not related to fellow Hollywood actress Katharine Hepburn. It's just not true.
After years of hit after box office hit - Roman Holiday (1953), Sabrina (1954), The Nun's Story (1959), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), Charade (1963), My Fair Lady (1964) and How to Steal a Million (1966) - it seemed like her fourth consecutive Best Actress Oscar defeat marked a turning point in her acting career. At the age of just 38, she decided to devote more time to her family, and after 1967's Wait Until Dark, didn't make another film for nine years.
That comeback film was the $5m Robin and Marian, with Audrey playing Marian to Sean Connery's Robin. Now aged 47, the intervening years didn't seem to have touched Audrey's porcelain features and she still looked every bit the film star.
|Audrey in 1979's Bloodline, aged 50|
The reason Bloodline was R-rated is that toward the end of the film the killer tries to murder Audrey's character as part of a snuff movie, something Audrey did not fully realise until she was halfway through shooting. She apparently turned to the film in desperation for a distraction following the collapse of her second marriage to the adulterous Andrea Dotti (she also turned to co-star Ben Gazzara, with whom she had an affair). Audrey's mistake seems even more unfortunate when you learn that the role had already been turned down by Candice Bergen, Jacqueline Bisset and Diane Keaton - probably for the same reason. Nevertheless, Audrey earnt $1m, plus a share of the gross, which was just as well as, despite costing $12m to make, Bloodline bombed and made only $8.2m back.
|In They All Laughed, aged 52|
However, this film was to be overshadowed somewhat by the murder of Bogdanovich's girlfriend Dorothy Stratten, who had a co-starring role. On August 14th, 1980, after filming had ended, she was found dead - shot in the face - in her estranged husband Paul Snider's house. It is thought Snider killed his wife, then abused and raped her corpse before turning the Mossberg 12 gauge shotgun on himself. This murder was later dramatised in Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story (1981, starring Jamie Lee Curtis) and Star 80 (1983, starring Mariel Hemingway). This is getting very off-topic now, but just to add one last trivial note: in 1988 Bogdanovich married Dorothy's 20-year-old sister Louise after having paid for her private schooling. They divorced in 2001.
|Audrey with her Love Among|
Thieves co-star Robert Wagner
Audrey's final big screen role was as an angel in Steven Spielberg's 1989 film Always. The role was a mere cameo, but by this point Audrey's 60 years were telling. Time had caught up. But there were still other appearances before it was time for Audrey to become a real-life angel - she made a whole host of appearances on a great many talk shows, from Wogan in the UK to Larry King in the States. She attended the 1992 Oscars ceremony to present an award to Satyajit Ray, as well as the same year's Danny Kaye International Children's Award for UNICEF.
|Audrey in her final cinema role, as|
angel Hap in Always
So, what of her death? Well, I've not touched upon her humanitarian work for UNICEF here as I simply could not do justice to it (she was a goodwill ambassador touring countries such as Ethiopia, Turkey and Vietnam between 1988-92). But when she returned from famine-stricken Somalia in September 1992 she was taken ill with abdominal pains, and in November was diagnosed with abdominal cancer which had spread from her appendix. This rare form of cancer had been growing for several years, and manifested not as a tumour, but as a thin coating over her small intestine. Audrey underwent chemotherapy and surgery, but one hour into an operation on December 1st, the surgeon decided the cancer was too far gone and inoperable.
|Audrey pictured during a UNICEF|
humanitarian mission to Somalia
in 1992, aged 63
|Audrey photographed in her garden in|
Switzerland on January 12th, 1993, eight
days before she died. With her are Dorothy
Kleiner (former wife of Yul Brynner)
and Christa Roth, a friend from UNICEF
She finally succumbed in her sleep on the evening of January 20th, aged just 63. A funeral service was held four days later, attended by fellow actors Alan Delon and Roger Moore, and her body was interred in a small cemetery at the top of a hill overlooking Tolochenaz.
After her death, Audrey's partner of 13 years, Robert Wolders, said: "Neither the boys [her two sons] nor I could acknowledge that she was dying. We perhaps made a mistake in not telling her how ill she was. I think that was very unfair to her, because Audrey was realistic about death as she was about life. When she began to sense that she was dying, she made us promise that we would let her go when it was time. We promised, but I don't think we followed through."
A lighter end: Such a tragic end for a beautiful person. But fast-forward to 2013 and a TV commercial for Galaxy chocolate in which the wonders of CGI bring Audrey back to very realistic life. A lovely memory to end on...