The importance of Audrey Hepburn

August 07, 2009

Yesterday I was reading a post on Liebemarlene Vintage about Greta Garbo -- Rhiannon wrote:

...I think I'd rather procrastinate a bit and write a blog post about Greta Garbo. I don't think I've written a thing about her here, which is sort of strange considering that she was one of the first classic Hollywood stars I got obessed with. I mean, after Audrey Hepburn--she was the first star I loved, but I bet she's the first star most girls love, so I'm not sure if she really counts.
I know many of the girl bloggers (including me) first fell for classic films by watching an Audrey Hepburn film. Reading this on Rhiannon's blog, I couldn't help but wonder how many people out there have been sucked into the world of classic film because of Audrey.

I was only 13 years old when I saw my first Audrey Hepburn film (How to Steal a Million) -- at this point I had seen other classic films with my parents, but I wouldn't seek one out on my own. I know I've told this story a few times on my blog, but for this post it bears repeating (I can't believe I'm quoting myself, but it's easier than trying to rewrite this using different words!)

Audrey Hepburn is the one who got me started on classic films, and so her and her movies hold a very special place in my heart. I had just turned 13 when I first saw "How to Steal a Million"- it was in December and I was starting my winter break from school. I had my dad take me to Hollywood Video (a local sort of Blockbuster chain that has since been Netflixed out of existence) and I rented about six of her movies to watch over my break. I went to the library and took out her biography, and her life story inspired me to volunteer for UNICEF. Practically overnight I was a different person. I discovered Frank Sinatra music and ditched my Britney Spears CDs the following February and ever since then it has been nothing but old music and old movies for me.
Audrey Hepburn is an icon, instantly recognizable all across the world. But unlike some other iconic stars, she may also have an importance that is detached from her iconography. For every girl who sees an Audrey Hepburn film and translates their love for Audrey into a love for classic film in general, Audrey Hepburn is more than just an actress or icon. She's the catalyst for a lifelong devotion to movies from the golden age of cinema.

Did Audrey Hepburn spark your love of classic cinema? If not, who did? I'd also be interested to know who ensnares the men into loving classic movies-- John Wayne? Humphrey Bogart?


Elizabeth said...

Actually Audrey Hepburn wasn't what drew me into classic movies - it was Charlie Chaplin! I was about 11-12 years old and was in a K-Mart with my mother when I found myself hypnotized by some Charlie Chaplin movies. They were only $2 so we brought them home and I instantly fell in love and have never looked back!

Cliff Aliperti said...

For me it was Bogart and Gable, though I do prefer Cagney to either now. Maybe unexpected, but in a way quite obvious, I'd say Karloff and Lugosi would be up there too, as what kid didn't get sucked into "old" movies by the horror standards.

Thanks, Cliff

Matthew Coniam said...

For me (all more or less around the age of 8/9/10): Karloff & Lugosi, Harold Lloyd/ Chaplin/ Laurel & Hardy/ Marx Brothers, Charlie Chan, Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes.
But for my good lady: yep; Audrey!

Rhiannon said...

I love that you wrote a post on this! I guess that Audrey is a pretty accessible star . . .her movies are so easy to watch and don't seem so old-fashioned--even girls who only watch modern chick flicks can find something to live in Breakfast at Tiffany's or Sabrina. I used to hate movies from the '30s--they seemed so dry and distant--but now they're my favorites. It's funny how that happens.

I think Humphrey Bogart was my favorite male star too! But probably because of Sabrina . . . I wonder why it is that '50s stars are usually the most iconic classic film stars now? People like James Dean and Marilyn Monroe, too . . . I like the '30s ones so much better now!

Clara Fercovic said...

I totally agree with you: I watched classic movies with my parents, but it wasn't until I saw Audrey in B@t, that I discover that these """"old"""" stars could be totally cool, a little bit kook, funny and interesting...Then I went to the library, got a book about Billy Wilder (because I wanted to read about his movies with Audrey) and it was about Joseph L. Mankiewicz too...One year later, thanks to Audrey, I've watched more movies than ever, discovered a load of outstanding directors, actors, writers(and great blogs about them), I love this marvellous old music, I have new idols,I'm just crazy about the classics, and I think I have more knowledge than before to aprecciate films :) It's incredible how your interests and perception change.

G·R·E·A·T sketch. Congrats.
Greetings from Chile.

PS: Made some vids, it'd be great if you could watch my youtube channel (3 vids)

Rhiannon said...

Uh, I mean something to love. :)

Terence Towles Canote said...

Audrey Hepburn didn't pull me into classic films, although she did get me into musicals after seeing My Fair Lady. As to the actor who got me into classic film, I'd say that was Humphrey Bogart. It was The Maltese Falcon that did it. I'd watched John Wayne movies before that, but that only got me into Westerns!

Juliette. said...

I'd always loved musicals, but didn't know much about them. For me, it was Audrey as well, in My Fair Lady (haha, if you can believe that). After My Fair Lady (which I saw in the fifth grade, I think)...I wrote my research paper that year on Audrey Hepburn, and researched by reading a book about her and watching a ton of movies. I fell in love with Charade, then Cary Grant, then Katharine Hepburn, and on and on.

Great post-- brought back a lot of memories. :)

DKoren said...

Wow!!! That is a truly gorgeous painting of her! I love this style you're working in right now!

This is a very interesting post! I love reading people's history with film watching, usually because it's so different from my own experience, and that's neat.

I also seem to run a bit contrary to popular opinion... I've never particularly cared for Audrey Hepburn. Granted, I've also seen very few of her movies, so perhaps that's unfair. I've seen Green Mansions (the first film I saw her in... not a good one to start with. The book is fabulous, the movie stinks.), Robin and Marian (in which I really did like her, but she was not all classy and elegant), and Sabrina, which I disliked on just about every level.

I watched classic movies originally because my parents did, and because they were good movies. The stories kept me going back first and foremost, because I wanted to watch Westerns and War movies, and there simply aren't very many being made nowadays. The actors attracted me to their other films after I fell in love with them in the Westerns and War movies.

DKoren said...

BTW, I should add that I think it is the neatest thing that Audrey Hepburn has had such a positive influence on so many people and what movies they watch!

Sarah Mann said...

Audrey was the one that got me into classic movies. Seriously, if it wasn't for her I wouldn't be here! I don't know what prompted me to get Breakfast at Tiffany's at Blockbuster, but I watched it about 50 times and then got a bio on her.

Meredith said...

my gateway drug was absolutely judy garland. one viewing of easter parade and i was hooked!

Millie said...

Audrey rocks my world, but she was not the first.

I really couldn't tell you who was the first. Because I have been watching classic movies since the day I was born. But, some of my earliest classic movie memories (about almost 4) were It Happened One Night and My Man Godfrey. Also, The Parent Trap...and really classic TV! I was a die-hard Bonanza fan at the age of 5!

Andi B. Goode said...

I'm not entirely sure. Audrey Hepburn has been my favourite actress for as long as I can remember. I grew up watching films like My Fair Lady and Charade (which I watched over and over and over and over) - I guess it must've been Audrey! I watched a lot of Cary Grant films growing up, too, as he's my mum's favourite and North by Northwest has always been a favourite film but I'd say I appreciated Audrey far longer before I ever fully appreciated Cary. So, yes, Audrey it is.
-Andi x

Vanessa, Take only Memories said...

What a beautiful painting!

Lolita of the Classics said...

Jeez, Kate! That painting is wonderful! So goddamn beautiful! (My boyfriend thinks so too, by the way.)

Ah, so Audrey Hepburn made you into a woman? I think it was Marilyn Monroe who did it for me, or at least started it. Then it was Lauren Bacall who was my main inspiration for my first classic-film-devotion-years, so I guess it was Mrs. Bogart who turned me from a pathetic teenager into a full grown woman!

Rachel said...

It was Judy Garland for me. I loved her musicals, especially "Meet Me in St. Louis", but now I prefer any movie from the 30's, with an emphasis on pre-codes! And now I've been watching "Twentieth Century" every day for the past week, I'm crushing on John Barrymore!

Classic Movie Cat said...

Casablanca drew me in so deeply... as well as anything with James Stewart. My first Audrey film was Roman Holiday, which also started my huge and never ending love for Gregory Peck.

Anyway... she was such a classy woman. My favorite film of her's, besides Roman Holiday, is Two For The Road.

Anonymous said...

Audrey Hepburn is gorgeous
and your drawing is exceptionally
beautiful and captivating <3

I thought you may enjoy
my new blog post which
is about my love for cinema
and poetry in cinema:

Anonymous said...

audrey hepburn was part of it all. another person was james stewart. i remember growing up watching his movies with my father. and, every christmas eve, my family and i watch it's a wonderful life.

Anonymous said...

I thought i'd let you know
how much I love your blog and your drawings and I hope you don't mind
me featuring you on my blog:
and I wish you a lovely weekend
and lots of inspiration <3

Timeless Fashion... said...

I totally agree; I first started with 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' and then came other Audrey's films, and eventually, other classic movies. I wonder what's your favourite Audrey film; mine is 'Two for the Road'.

Anyway please have a look at my post from 26/08; I've uploaded a picture that might be of interest to you and other Audrey fans:

All the best

Anonymous said...

I like your sketches! I can't really say who got me into older movies except for the fact that my mom made me watch some when I was younger, but Audrey definitely has inspired me to watch more older films.

I recently posted a blog about Audrey after viewing your blog, if you have time would you please check it out?

Marjorie said...

I found this post when I google Audrey Hepburn, but I feel compelled to respond.
I have always loved John Wayne. My Dad and I would watch his classic western movies all the time growing up, but that was the extent of my interest in the classics.
Later in college a noticed Audrey Hepburn all over girls dorm walls, and heard her referenced in TV shows. So I had a Audrey marathon watching her most famous movies. I'm only at the beginning of my journey into the classics but I am loving them more and more.