When one pictures Audrey Hepburn, they most likely the 25-year-old star of Sabrina or perhaps the thirty-something from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Most of the photos that made Hepburn an icon are from her twenties and thirties. It is no surprise since the majority of her acting career took place during that time of her life.
Hepburn’s acting career largely ended at the end of the 1960s with just a few projects throughout the 1970s and 1980s. During this time, she devoted herself to The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and eventually became a Goodwill Ambassador for the organization.
I find the photos of her during this time not only strikingly elegant, but also at times painfully moving and hard to look at. I think these photos are worth sharing so that we might gain an understanding of Hepburn and the meaning of her life after acting.
“I have a broken heart. I feel desperate. I can’t stand the idea that two million people are in imminent danger of starving to death, many of them children,” Hepburn during a trip to Ethiopia
“Often the kids would have flies all over them, but she would just go hug them. I had never seen that. Other people had a certain amount of hesitation, but she would just grab them. Children would just come up to hold her hand, touch her,” John Isaac, UN Photographer
“They deserve better – a life of security and opportunity and freedom and peace of mind. Most of them have never experienced such a life, but they sense its absence. The eyes say it all,” Hepburn, in the introduction of Betrayal: A Report on Violence Towards Children in Today’s World
“If people are not giving it’s because they don’t know, not because they don’t want to. So I hope to just help create a global awareness wherever it’s necessary,” Hepburn, during a trip to Ethiopia
“People in these places don’t know Audrey Hepburn, but they recognize the name UNICEF. When they see UNICEF their faces light up, because they know that something is happening,” Hepburn
“I walked into a nightmare. I have seen famine in Ethiopia and Bangladesh, but I have seen nothing like this – so much worse than I could possibly have imagined. I wasn’t prepared for this,” Hepburn, on a trip to Somalia four months before her death in 1992.
“Taking care of children has nothing to do with politics,” Hepburn
“I saw but one glaring truth: These are not natural disasters but man-made tragedies for which there is only one manmade solution-peace,” Hepburn, on a trip to Sudan
“I have a broken heart. I feel desperate. I can’t stand the idea that two million people are in imminent danger of starving to death, many of them children,” Hepburn, reflecting on a trip to Ethiopia
“Somebody said to me the other day, ‘You know, it’s really senseless, what you’re doing. There’s always been suffering, there will always be suffering, and you’re just prolonging the suffering of these children [by rescuing them].’ My answer is, ‘Okay, then, let’s start with your grandchild. Don’t buy antibiotics if it gets pneumonia. Don’t take it to the hospital of it has an accident. It’s against life-against humanity-to think that way,” Hepburn
“I was born with an enormous need for affection, and a terrible need to give it,” Hepburn
“UNICEF’s mandate is to protect every child against famine, thirst, sickness, abuse and death. But today, we are dealing with a far more ominous threat. Man’s inhumanity to man. With the dark side of humanity – selfishness, avarice, adversities – which has already pollute our skies, emptied our oceans, destroyed our forests and extinguished thousands of beautiful animals. Are our children next?” Hepburn, in a statement to UNICEF’s Executive Board
Please note that I gave credit where I could find credit. If you own any of these photos and wish to receive credit, please email me at courtney[@]thosegraces.com.