Google Doodle: Audrey Hepburn’s birthday (May 4th)

Google Doodle Audrey Hepburn BirthdayThis story was originally written for the Daily Express, found here.

TODAY’S Google Doodle celebrates the 85th birthday of British actress Audrey Hepburn.

The doodle shows a striking black-and-white charcoal sketch of Hepburn – reminiscent of her look in Breakfast at Tiffany’s – on a pink background.

The Google logo is represented in elegant cursive, with small drawings of Hepburn playing and dancing with children from poverty-stricken countries underneath.

Born in 1929 in Brussels, the then Audrey Kathleen Hepburn-Ruston grew up moving between Belgium, England and the Netherlands, dealing with German occupation during the Second World War.

Her parents were both involved with the British Union of Fascists, and her father became a Nazi sympathiser.

However, it was his infidelity (with the family nanny) that caused him to separate from the family. He remained emotionally detached even after the war, but stayed in contact with Audrey.


Her career in showbiz started in ballet, and in 1948 she moved to London to pursue the artform seriously, dropped the Ruston from her surname and became a chorus girl in West End stage productions.

Hepburn’s first big break in cinema was with Roman Holiday (1953), where she beat out Elizabeth Taylor for the role. Even at this stage in her career she earned an Academy Award for Best Actress, a BAFTA Award for Best British Actress in a Leading Role and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.

Hepburn starred in 27 films over the course of her career, her most famous being Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), which quickly became a cultural touchstone for Western glamour and feminine fashion.

Hepburn described the role as “the jazziest of her career”, the extroverted character of Holly Golightly being a stark contrast to Hepburn’s introverted personality.

Her ‘little black dress’ by Givenchy, matched with large Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses and precise beehive hairdo became iconic look for 20th Century cinema, and is still an influence in present-day fashion.

Hepburn dated a few other men in showbiz while starring in films, before meeting US actor Mel Ferrer in 1954, and getting married the year after.

She had a son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer, only months before filming Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and eventually divorced Ferrer in 1968.

As the years passed, Hepburn moved away from film projects to focus on humanitarian exploits.

She became a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF (an organisation she had been involved in since the 1950s) and embarked on her first field mission to Ethiopia in 1988.

She often felt heartbroken at the starvation and poverty she witnessed on these expeditions.

On a trip to Somalia in 1992 (four months before she died), she said: “Taking care of children has nothing to do with politics. I think perhaps with time, instead of there being a politicisation of humanitarian aid, there will be a humanisation of politics.”

Audrey Hepburn died in 1993 of appendiceal cancer. She was posthumously awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and buried in a small village cemetery in Switzerland.