Audrey Hepburn’s Tumultuous Life and the Art of Acting

Audrey Hepburn 1957 Copyright John Swope Trust / MPTV

Audrey Kathleen Ruston, later and more famously known as Audrey Hepburn, is known as an acting powerhouse. Hepburn was acclaimed for her iconic style, her acting abilities and her tumultuous childhood.


Born in Belgium in 1929 to an Irish father and Dutch mother who was a baroness, Hepburn lived a comfortable life up until the age of three. Her father abandoned her and her family after joining a radical fascist organization. He toured Nazi Germany with a friend where he met Adolf Hitler. He later got a job as a recruiter for a fascist party so he never returned home.

Her father was a British citizen so therefore so was she. She attended school in England as a child, but her mother pulled her out after a couple of years and moved her to the Netherlands in hopes that she would avoid the conflict of World War II. Unbeknownst to Hepburn’s mother, Holland would soon become under Nazi occupation.

Third Culture Experience

Graffiti art of Audrey Hepburn dancing.
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“I’m half Irish, half Dutch and I was born in Belgium. If I was a dog, I’d be in a hell of a mess.”  

Audrey Hepburn

Hepburn meaningfully experienced and interacted with many different cultures throughout her childhood. From the wide plains of Belgium, the temperate lands of England, to the coastal lowlands of Holland, Hepburn experienced a lot in the early years of her life. Hepburn’s tumultuous childhood “homes” make her part of a unique group of individuals; Third Culture Kids (TCK).

To be a Third Culture Kid, one must have spent a significant part of their developmental years outside of their parent’s culture. They build relationships with most of the cultures they experience. Hepburn is a TCK through and through as she not only experienced the cultures of the lands she resided in but she also experienced the German culture through their occupation of Holland.

Medium Magazine states she “witnessed first-hand the war’s impact, starting with her family’s properties being burned down and her uncle being executed for suspicion of taking part in the resistance. And she recounted instances of street executions as well as seeing the Dutch Jewish population being loaded into trains and transported into concentration camps.” Hepburn had a globalized culture throughout her childhood, and saw the highs and lows of cultures all around Europe.

Hepburn’s Career

Still from film starring Audrey Hepburn and Anthony Perkins.
Image labeled for reuse. Image courtesy of Pixabay.

After the war had ended, Audrey Hepburn moved to Amsterdam where she began to perform ballet and model. She caught the eye of a producer who offered her a role in his play. She had minor appearances in many films, but the film that launched her into stardom was “Roman Holiday.” Hepburn won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) for her role in the film.

Time magazine states, “the beginning of ‘Roman Holiday’ showed the young actress, as the ruritanian Princess Ann, on a state tour of Europe. The world’s final view of Hepburn was in 1992 TV newscasts of her visit to Africa last October — three months before her death at 63 ) — as she bestowed first her compassion on starving children and then her modulated anger at the causes of their condition.”

Audrey Hepburn lived an incredible life filled with incredible people and experiences. She died an icon, a humanitarian, and a renowned actress in 1993 at her home in Switzerland.


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