Well, we all know there’s nothing ordinary about a genius, and scientists now tell us that the ability of these brainiacs to tenaciously press their noses to the grindstone can throw off some pretty extraordinary sparks – behavioural side-effects that might explain some of the more unexpected quirks of our most beloved heroes and heroines. We’ve been taking a closer look at these wonderfully talented individuals, now it’s the turn of someone very close to our hearts. Audrey Hepburn – step on up!
A numbers games
Football fans know all about the importance of numbers, and so ought to sympathise with Hepburn – her lucky digit was 55. This was her dressing room number, initially for Roman Holiday (which brought Audrey her first starring role and her first Academy Award) and later for Breakfast At Tiffany’s (in which she played her most iconic part, the captivating Holly Golightly). But the numbers let her down eventually: not even room 55 could save 1964’s Paris When It Sizzles, a film described by Variety as ‘marsh mallow-weight hokum’. When your number’s up…
In step with the times
You might have seen Hepburn strap on her dancing shoes for the silver screen (how about 1957’s Funny Face with Fred Astaire?), but you might not know that this wasn’t just a commercial talent. During WW Two, Hepburn’s family fled from Belgium to the Netherlands, hoping to avoid the violence, and Audrey signed up for ballet at the Arnhem Conservatory. By 1940, the teenager was dancing in secret performances to collect money the Dutch resistance. She said, later, ‘The best audience I ever had made not a single sound at the end of my performances.’
European to the last, Hepburn reckoned a day wasn’t complete without a siesta. Each afternoon she’d take a snooze to counteract the long days of filming. And she followed each afternoon nap with a single square of chocolate ‘to chase away the blues’. A girl after our own hearts!
Though Hepburn was no stranger to conventional pets – she also had a Yorkshire Terrier called Mr Famous – she’d give George Clooney a run for his money in the odd-animal-companion category. She had a pet deer, a fawn called Pippin (aka Ip), that she took home from the set of her 1959 film, Green Mansions, on the advice of the animal trainer, who thought it might help them bond – and bond, they did. Audrey even gave Ip his own custom-made bathtub. Talk about creature comforts!
Again with the Continental skills – unlike the Anglophile Brits and Yanks, Hepburn could speak six, count ‘em, six languages: English, Dutch, Flemish, Spanish, French and Italian. Here’s video evidence just in case you don’t believe us. An English father and a Dutch mother didn’t hurt in this respect, and nor did Hepburn’s post-acting career as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Genius or what?
There’s no doubt our Audrey was a beautiful, talented and classy girl, with some wonderful idiosyncrasies. But if you had to pick one character trait that most endeared you to her, what would it be?