AUDREY HEPBURN: A Biography by Warren G. Harris


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A spiritless biography of one of the most inspiring of all motion picture stars. Certainly this fine actress and great beauty is a natural for biographical treatment. She was born in Brussels to a British father and Dutch mother. Her father deserted the family when Audrey was six, and Audrey and her mother found themselves trapped in Holland when the Nazis invaded. As a child, she saw the horrors of German occupation and later did some work for the Resistance. After the war, she sought work as a dancer, but her personality was so strong that she was pulled forward and made into an instant star with her first Broadway play (Gigi) and her first motion picture (Roman Holiday), for which she won an Oscar. She achieved recognition as both a wonderful performer and as one of the defining images of feminine beauty. After her leading lady days had ended, she turned to charitable activities and became a tireless worker for UNICEF. Harris (Lucy & Desi, 1991) has clearly done his research. There is much information here, some of it new, such as the revelation that Hepburn's parents were involved with Sir Oswald Mosley's pre--WW II fascist movement. Hepburn emerges as a truly admirable person, seemingly beloved by all who came into contact with her. Unfortunately, there is no magic in Harris's writing to match the magic in Hepburn's performances. When his prose isn't flat, it's either ungrammatical (""But who knew then that except for being heavily bombed, England would never be conquered or occupied by Nazi Germany"") or awkward (""She seemed to walk on music""). Nor does he attempt more than the most superficial analysis of Hepburn's talent or mystique. Audrey Hepburn seems destined to be remembered as one of the screen's lasting icons, and she deserves a first-rate biography. Sadly, this isn't it.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1994
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paramount