Audrey Hepburn — A Third Culture Kid in the Golden Age of Hollywood

The Beginning

Audrey Hepburn is one the Golden Age of Film’s most iconic stars. Even though she was seen as a U.S. actress, Hepburn is a Third Culture Kid (TCK) who began her life in Europe.

Edda van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston was born May 4th, 1929 in Brussels, Belgium. She was living in a world of mixing cultural backgrounds from the start, and later would become a TCK. Hepburn was born into a family where her mother was of Dutch nobility and her father was from Bohemia (part of what is now the Czech Republic). However, after her parents divorced, she was experiencing a new world.

After Hepburn and her mother moved to London, she began attending private school and was vacationing with her mother in the Netherlands until Hitler’s reign of power in Europe began to unfold. Soon, the Nazi invasion brought hard times for Hepburn and her mother. She began to suffer from depression and battled malnutrition.

Audrey Hepburn
Hollywood star Audrey Hepburn by twm1340 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Hepburn and a bright new start

Europe was finally free from Nazi reign, and Hepburn’s life started moving in a more positive direction. She appeared to have found her calling when she started her modeling career in London. Graceful, soft and elegant, these traits caught the eyes of film producers, and soon she was in her first movie, “Dutch in Seven Lessons,” in 1948.

However, after a few other projects working in Europe’s culture, Hepburn decided to expand her career and moved to the United States.

Hepburn and the ‘Golden Age’

Once in the United States, Hepburn landed the lead in the 1953 film “Roman Holiday,” where she portrayed a young princess who had fallen for a journalist. The fairytale role earned Hepburn the Academy Award for Best Actress, and that same year she won a Tony for Best Actress as well. Hepburn was taking over Hollywood, and acted alongside other golden age stars in the United States’ prime film age.

In 1954, Hepburn married Mel Ferrer, and in 1960 had her first child. One year later, she landed the role she is arguably most known for, Holly Golightly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” The role honored her with an Oscar nomination, and historical status to this day.

The greatest victory has been able to live with myself, to except my shortcomings…I’m a long way from the human being I’d like to be. But I’ve decided I’m not so bad after all.

-Audrey Hepburn

The end of an era

Hepburn retired from acting in 1967, still considered to be one of Hollywood’s top actresses. In 1968, she divorced Ferrer, and in 1969 married her second husband. In 1970, she gave birth to her second son in Vaud, Switzerland, and in 1988 became an ambassador for the United Nations.

With UNICEF, Hepburn helped children in Africa and Latin America all the way until 1993. She died in 1993 at the age of 63 in Vaud, Switzerland.

Audrey Hepburn has filmed 31 movies, inspired artists of all genres, and has remained an iconic U.S. movie star to this day. Hepburn has proven that being a staple in U.S. culture does not mean you were born here, but that in your heart you push towards the “American Dream.”

Hepburn made a name for herself that is known across the world, and history was made on the silver screen in the Golden Age.

Audrey Hepburn
“Audrey Hepburn (1929 – 1993)” by twm1340 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
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