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Audrey Hepburn Nearly Starved to Death During WWII

Audrey Hepburn was one of many largest film stars of the Fifties and ’60s. Even then, there was nonetheless an assumption that fame and success all the time led to happiness, however the actor carried her previous together with her all through her life. The physique that helped burnish her movie star formed her traumatic experiences throughout World Battle II.

However she wasn’t only a haunted spectator throughout this time. There’s loads of proof that Hepburn did her half to assist the resistance triumph combat in opposition to the Nazis. 

Audrey Hepburn | Archive Photographs/Getty Pictures

Her physique and worldview had been impacted by World Battle II

Hepburn’s famously skinny body – she was 5’7 and weighed round 110 kilos all through her grownup life – was usually adorned with style items that made the actor a female perfect within the eyes of many. It wouldn’t be outlandish to assume {that a} girl that gentle who additionally labored within the looks-obsessed movie trade stored herself from consuming an excessive amount of, however in a People cowl story from 2017, her household made it clear that this was not the case. 

“People think because she was skinny that she had an eating disorder, but it’s not true,” mentioned her son, Luca Dotti. “She loved Italian food and pasta. She ate a lot of grains, not a lot of meat, and a little bit of everything.” Hepburn’s romantic accomplice from 1980 to her passing in 1993, Robert Wolders, additionally added that she didn’t have a particular meal plan, nor was she particularly targeted when she needed to train. 

“We’d walk for miles. She could outwalk me,” affirms Wolder.

“She had a healthy metabolism, but she was not excessive. She never said, ‘I have to do five miles today.’ She didn’t diet. We had brown bread with jam for breakfast, lunch would be chicken or veal or pasta, often with vegetables from the garden, and for dinner, we often had soup with chicken and vegetables. She had chocolate after dinner, baking chocolate. She had a finger or two of Scotch at night.”

Hepburn’s physique and perspective towards meals had been extremely affected by World Battle II. When she was 11, she and her mom, Dutch Baroness Ella van Heemstra, moved to the Netherlands at the beginning of the battle within the hopes that they’d be safer there as a substitute of England, which declared battle on Germany in 1939. However her upper-class background couldn’t present an escape from the horror. 

“By the end of the war, she was very close to death,” says Dotti.

“She survived by eating nettles and tulip bulbs and drinking water to fill her stomach. She was almost 5’6″ and weighed 88 lbs. She had jaundice and edema. She suffered from anemia the rest of her life, possibly as a consequence. …  She was the same age as Anne Frank and [later] said: ‘That was the girl who didn’t make it and I did.’ Her voice would crack, and her eyes would fill with tears.”

Hepburn was close to hunger for months at a time, a interval that her household believes led to her lack of ability to placed on important weight. 

Hepburn made herself helpful to the resistance in several methods

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Hepburn discovered the resolve to assist the native resistance with the dwindling sources she had accessible. She danced in invitation-only occasions known as “black evenings” to elevate cash for individuals who had been sheltering Jews or different sympathizers across the nation. She mentioned in an interview recounted in Dutch Lady, a biography by Robert Matzen, in regards to the time interval:

“They were very amateurish attempts, but nevertheless at the time, when there was very little entertainment, it amused people and gave them an opportunity to get together and spend a pleasant afternoon listening to music and seeing my humble attempts.”


She didn’t cease there. Hepburn additionally relayed messages and meals to downed British and American fliers and newspapers to fellow loyalists. Her household even took in a British paratrooper of their residence after the Battle of Arnhem. 

Hepburn’s mom had a a lot totally different response to the battle. Van Heemstra initially supported the Nazi regime, proudly owning a framed {photograph} of Hitler and writing about him with adoration in a British Fascist newspaper. Hepburn by no means accepted or confronted her mother about this, however the two remained shut after the battle, with Hepburn caring for her in her later years in Switzerland. 

Hepburn was one of many main actors of her time

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Hepburn married iconic fashion and inventive substance to turn out to be a cinematic legend. She skilled to be a ballet dancer as a child however took up appearing after being advised she was too tall and malnourished to be a prima ballerina. She carried out in performs, most notably in Gigi on Broadway, earlier than transferring into films. 

Her first starring function additionally grew to become one of many films for which she is finest remembered. Her efficiency in 1953’s Roman Vacation as Princess Ann earned her an Oscar for Greatest Actress. Hepburn spent the remainder of the last decade as a field workplace sensation, establishing her public persona as a modern and beguiling performer who had that intangible high quality that separates merely proficient actors from those that had been born to be on the heart of the body. 

Hepburn’s reward for stardom was finest utilized in Breakfast at Tiffany’s the place her presents as a performer and fashionista got here collectively in a means that positioned the film into movie canon perpetually. By the top of the ’60s, she started to recede from her personal profession to deal with her household and different philanthropic ambitions.

In 1989, Hepburn grew to become a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, serving to to present support in ailing nations. Her efforts earned her a Presidential Medal of Freedom earlier than she died in 1993. 

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