Well, we made it through our 4 days of filming in Paris! In June, I mean. And now the film is complete! I am waiting to view the final results along with many of our supporters tomorrow. It’s not too late to join us – we are still taking donations and anybody who donated is welcome to join. Click here for your “ticket” to the viewing party! If you can’t join us tomorrow, all our supporters will also get a link to watch the short film at their leisure, as well. We couldn’t have made it without your help. And the next step is to start submitting it to film festivals! Fingers crossed for Dating Audrey!
Now, I just wanted to ruminate on being Audrey. This whole short film concept came to me not only as a potentially simple story to film (originally it was to be shot entirely indoors) after the pandemic, but as an elaborate audition piece for my dream role. And as an actor – I have criticism for myself. Ha!
I did what I could in preparation for this role (not even counting the years of research that came before), but ultimately really wish I would have been able to have a coach of some sort, especially on set, as I know my own habits and mannerisms have a way of sneaking through sometimes. I spent months standing up straight, remembering my posture in ballet class and applying it to myself in everyday life. I watched myself for anxious movements and stilled myself as best I could. Audrey always seemed relaxed and in control – while I rock back and forth and chew my nails! I paid attention to Audrey’s mannerisms on film – the way she moved her head, her eyes, her mouth. Oh the mouth. I hate the way I move my mouth! And of course, I tried to perfect her tone of voice, and her accent. This was difficult and I still haven’t got it right. She doesn’t have a deep voice, but somehow mine always sounded too high.
It’s not an easy thing to completely change your mannerisms, your speech, your voice… which is why if I do get to play Audrey in something with a budget that allows, I absolutely want an “Audrey coach” by my side, so that I can really give the best performance possible. It’s what Audrey deserves.
There is not a lot of Audrey news to report à ce moment, but I do have some photos I neglected to share with you from last summer in France! I always enjoy dressing up as Ondine, so you haven’t seen the last of her…. 😉
Well I woke up to some shocking news the other day – an article saying Rooney Mara was going to be playing Audrey Hepburn in a biopic. It really shook me, even after realizing that it wasn’t the Wildside production. My mind just raced back through the entire past 20 years of my life, back to the beginnings of my journey with Audrey – I remember watching The Audrey Hepburn Story when I was about 18, and just learning about Audrey. How at first, I actually enjoyed it. I like biopics, generally. But as I learned more, the gulf between Audrey and Jennifer grew wider. The glaring mistakes or outright rewrites of Audrey’s life made me feel that Audrey deserved better. I started writing down my research. In notebook after notebook, then on index cards as I organized it all chronologically in preparation to write my own script.
And I wrote it.
I spent my hours on set as a background actor scribbling it down, then typing it out in Final Draft. My weekends were spent at the Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills, looking at microfiche of old articles. One even had Audrey’s Los Angeles address printed right in it. I couldn’t find that address when I went looking for it though. The neighbourhood must have been renumbered in the 45 years since that article.
Well, I wrote and I wrote. I made two versions. One was a double script. And one focused more on the middle of her life. I used as many direct quotes as I could. However, I was never really confident in it. I’m not a writer.
A friend of mine saw the passion I had for this, and he said he wanted to produce it. I didn’t see him often, only a handful of times a year. He was busy running a charity called the Angel Foundation, and he lived a bit outside of L.A. somewhere… But one day in 2006 I think it was… after being unable to get ahold of him for a time, I learned that he had passed away. He had leukemia. So with him died my hope of getting the script produced. I put it away. I would have to simply work hard, make a name for myself, and try again when I had some clout. That day has still not come.
The announcement in 2018 gave me one last hope. Now in my 30’s, I know I could do a better job than I could back then. For starters, my teeth look a hell of a lot better now after Invisalign (which I’m about to do a second time)! I’ve had many acting classes, ballet classes, and experiences to draw from. I’ve gone through heartbreak after heartbreak. I’ve lived in Europe – France and the Netherlands. I’ve been to the places Audrey has been, and walked in her footsteps. I’ve owned a Yorkie, beginning to end, 13 years of that silly furbaby. I’ve found more confidence (though maybe still not enough). And I’ve learned a lot more about Audrey. I don’t know if any of that is enough to convince somebody to give me a chance. Once again we’re seeing how having a famous face helps you to land good roles. But what percentage of actors even reach that level? I was once told that only 5% of SAG members even made a living with acting. Five percent. Does that mean the rest of us aren’t talented enough? I doubt it. There are plenty of talented people who don’t get work, and plenty of people who get work despite not being talented. And I still cling to some hope that in this case especially, for Audrey, one of the other unknown 95% may be given a chance. Just like they took a chance on her for Roman Holiday, giving an unknown actress a major role over any other famous actress of the day, I hope Wildside makes their casting decision not based on fame, but based on the person who can truly bring Audrey to life. Even if it’s not me. Although I can’t imagine anybody giving more of themselves to the role than I would. So, I’m still here, still doing my best, and still hoping.
There are many dresses I sigh over and hope someday to have and to wear, many of which were worn by Audrey of course, but this one particular dress always stood out. I can’t even say it was my favourite; in fact when I first saw her wearing it in Sabrina I found it a bit odd looking, with its pencil skirt and billowing detachable over-skirt. But it grew on me.
In 2017 I was lucky enough to have the chance to see the actual dress before it went up for auction. Lost and forgotten for years, it had made a surprise appearance out of one of Debbie Reynolds trunks after her passing. I went and took as many photos as I could, a bit of video (though now I wish I had taken more), and measurements, because I knew I would somehow, someday be recreating this dress. That day finally arrived when I stumbled upon a recreation being made by a company on Instagram that advertised affordable recreations of famous dresses. This version had been made printed on satin, but I asked about having it made as close to the original as possible, and was finally on my way to having it made. It took over a year from that initial contact before it was ready to wear, with unexpected delays, a fitting issue, some modifications made at my local seamstress, and then myself sewing on hundreds of little white decorative balls. But she’s done, she’s a beauty, and she’s mine! Now to find an event worthy to wear her to!
For more photos, please visit me at Instagram, and for a video about the original dress and my recreation, scroll down below the photos here!
Hello out there! I’ve been a little quiet, I know. But I’m still here. Still working away at being the best Audrey I can be. I’ve started a weekly livestream on my YouTube channel where I read a chapter of The Nun’s Story in my Audrey voice (which I think is improving, thanks to this weekly practice), and while practicing smoking cigarettes (mainly herbal, don’t worry too much. I’m just a Saturday smoker!). You can visit my channel to find all ten chapters that I’ve read so far. Fourteen more to go! For ten weeks I have not gotten rained out, so we’re going to see what the record is before the weather disrupts the routine.
Today the video I’d like to share with you is a fun one I did, bringing to life a 1958 McCall’s photoshoot Audrey did in a bright red jumpsuit. Several of her yoga poses were named and described, so I took them and created a little yoga video. I would love to do a part two with the remaining poses, although I haven’t been able to find the article itself to see if they were labeled with names as well. I may have to make some names up!
But here is the video, and a couple of pictures I recreated from the spread. If you’d like to see the rest, you can hop on over to my Instagram!
Hello out there! Well, we have some exciting news today – a screenwriter has finally been attached to the Audrey project (click to read the story in Variety). Jacqueline Hoyt will be bringing Audrey to life in this series. I must confess, I am not familiar with her work, but apparently she was their first choice as writer and I’m very glad they didn’t have to “settle” for someone else. Audrey definitely deserves the best.
I’m so happy to hear of some movement on the project, and it honestly reinvigorates me a bit. It’s been a difficult year to have goals, and for this particular goal it was getting difficult to keep up momentum without any end in sight.
I can’t even remember what was going on when last I wrote, but for a brief update on my life – I’m now an official resident of the Netherlands. Thanks to the lockdowns in France (and across the world, which damaged my online income) I made the decision to flee to the Netherlands to stay with my boyfriend, and as the lockdowns dragged on I had to make the decision of whether to find a new place I could afford in France and be separated from everybody I know because of the insane restrictions and border closings, or to stay here and give up my French residency permit. I am disappointed to have to abandon my goals of having a life in France, of becoming French, after so many years invested. But because governments really don’t care about human beings and only about rules and restrictions, I was forced to scrap those dreams and begin again here. It was not the plan and I don’t know what the future holds now. It’s a terribly expensive country and I don’t know how I will ever afford a home here!
But in good news, I’ve been regularly posting videos to my YouTube channel this year, and got monetized in early January as well. I’ve been learning more about herbalism, working on my fountain pen writing skills and getting back to making art. I’m taking some online illustration courses and playing around with watercolours. Plenty going on, since I find so many things interesting and love to learn and do new things! Definitely looking forward to getting back to ballet class, and going swing dancing, and doing all the social things I enjoyed doing. I hope I’m able to start feeling at home here this year. 🙂
Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel if you’re interested in some Audrey-related content! I’ve been planning on a few videos and it’s about time for me to make them happen. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to let me know!
About a month ago, I decided to watch one Audrey Hepburn movie a day, in chronological order, to study several aspects of her acting, mannerisms, and costumes (for a specific little project I’m working on). Some earlier films are a bit more difficult to find but fortunately there are clips on YouTube! And I have a wonderful friend who somehow found the movies I was missing and was able to send them to me, so my collection is nearly complete, now!
I kept my notes as I went along, to share here. I’m not reviewing the movies or going into depth, just recording some impressions. I would be a terrible movie critic!
I started with One Wild Oat, in which she plays a receptionist at a hotel. I’d seen the film before, but this time I noticed a shocking word being censored from that scene! I had to watch it again to make sure my ears and eyes didn’t deceive me. Pretty funny, I didn’t know this sort of thing was done! What word, you ask? Well, Stanley Holloway (who she works with again in My Fair Lady – what a wonderful reunion it must have been!) refers to his mistress as a female dog….
The second film was Laughter in Paradise, which I don’t own, but found her short scenes from on YouTube, so that would have to do for now. This obviously didn’t count as my film for the day. In this film she was a cigarette girl, and once again only had a few lines. Her part was so small though, I didn’t really feel I needed to find and watch the whole thing.
The next film is Lavender Hill Mob. I’d seen it before, but again, don’t own this one. And little Audrey only has one line as Chiquita. “Oh but how sweet of you!” So I found that scene on YouTube and skipped the rest of the film, because… well, I’m not studying everybody else!
Young Wives Tale comes next, and she had a larger role to play in this one. She plays one of the tenants of the building, named Eve. The main characters are two other couples who live there. It’s an entertaining film, even if Audrey isn’t the star! I was quite fascinated by Joan Greenwood’s voice and accent and wondered if Audrey took any inspiration from her. I’m definitely going to be watching a few of Joan’s films in the near future.
Now We Go to Monte Carlo! Or rather, Nous irons á Monte Carlo, because I have yet to find the English version of this film. I would absolutely love to see it. My French is sadly not good enough to understand everything that is said. I get the gist of it, and understand about 50%, maybe. It’s a fun film, although I didn’t always follow the plot!
I’ve been wanting to watch Secret People again for a while, so I was happy to sit down to that. Somehow every time, I’ve forgotten enough of it that I’m still not sure what comes next. It’s lovely to see Audrey dancing, and I’m sure she enjoyed that role. I own a book written about the making of the film, however, and apparently it was absolutely freezing when they filmed the dance sequence at the theatre and she wasn’t able to dance en pointe because of her edema.
Roman Holiday is such a sweet film and of course I’ve seen it multiple times. I have to confess, I’m going to skip watching this one, as I don’t want to make myself tired of it. I can’t seem to watch films over and over the way I did when I was a kid! I’ve seen it recently, besides. I noticed by this film, she’s definitely worked on her voice and lowered it, slowed down her speech… which is why I’m wondering if Joan was any inspiration, along with her vocal coach.
Sabrina I do love, however I always found the ending a bit unlikely. Yes, I personally was in a relationship with someone 20 years my senior, but I just don’t buy that Sabrina and Linus really fell for each other. And that David has no interest in her by the end of the film, either. Everything seems forced in this script. That dress though… sigh! I will soon have my own version of it… I feel I’ve been waiting forever.
It’s 1867 now. War and Peace. I’ve only seen this one time before. It’s over 3 hours long and took me two days to finish, this time. I am not all that interested in war scenes, so I did some multi-tasking during those. I have not read the book nor seen any other versions of it, so I can’t compare it to anything. I found myself a bit frustrated with her character, saying she was in love with not one, but two men, after meeting them both just once. I was loving the dresses, however. Especially her ballgown. So many dresses I want. I tell myself “one at a time, one at a time!” But I also know I’m not getting any younger and I would love to feel like a princess in these gorgeous gowns. I don’t get to dress up nearly enough!
On the same DVD I have The Mayerling, I also have A Rainy Day in Paradise Junction, which I believe was made sometime right after Roman Holiday. She’s wearing her Princess Ann neck scarf, it seems, and her hair is still short. Even though it’s not a film, I figured I would re-watch this one as well. I remember my excitement over discovering it years ago in the Paley Museum in Beverly Hills. I never even knew it even existed! It’s interesting to see this live television show, something not many Audrey fans these days have seen. A story of dreams and disappointment… and another example of smoking for me! Audrey is so darn cute and perfectly photogenic in everything.
Back to Mayerling, 1889. The second film she starred in alongside her husband, Mel. Another television special, but I believe it counts! And is once again, something I’ve only seen once or twice before. It happens to be on Amazon (surprise!) so fortunately I could watch it there. It’s definitely not one of my favourite Audrey films, but it’s always wonderful to see her. The costumes of course, even in black and white, are to die for. But the characters are a bit flat, and I have questions. It’s based on a true story, but they seem to have done such a basic job of dramatizing it. I definitely question the idea that on their last (and only?) night together, she would simply fall asleep fully clothed and he would kill them both in the morning as she slept. Your last night alive, together, and you wouldn’t…. ? OK. But focusing on Audrey, as with every movie I watch, I think how unique Audrey is, and what a job anybody would have of imitating her successfully and sincerely for the upcoming series. They should probably just use CGI and someone very good at imitating voices. I am only half joking.
Funny Face. I love the fashion, and I know it’s a musical and they usually aren’t very deep, but once again her character falls in love with someone she hardly knows. But it really seems out of character for her, here. I could see it happening gradually over a longer period of time, but not within the several days this appears to take place over. Yes yes, suspend your disbelief, it’s a musical. But honestly, she doesn’t know him at all. Quiz Jo on Dick and she won’t know anything but his name.
Love in the Afternoon. These films certainly are wonderful fashion shows, I adore nearly everything she wears, and this movie is no exception. Also no exception to the “I met a man, don’t know much about him, but have fallen in love” theme. Actually, I take that back. She knows this guy is a player, she knows nearly every woman he’s had an affair with, and still falls for him. I don’t see it ending well. It’s a bit disturbing because she’s playing a teenager as well. They certainly had interesting ideas of what was acceptable and what wasn’t back then. I know they altered the ending for more prudish American audiences, but still. I’m sorry to be so critical of these movies! I love Audrey, but observing the characters and plots, well…
I had a little trouble staying focused with Green Mansions, it’s never really been one of my favourites and I haven’t seen it many times. Her husband, Mel Ferrer, directed it, and I can imagine she really enjoyed that experience. Audrey is of course beautiful, and her acting is not terrible. She’s the best actor in the movie, I would say. There are few characters, but they all seem to overact. A lot. The dialogue is pretty bad too. It would be interesting to see a modern telling of this story. I believe it’s based on a book, and I wonder how good the book is. And I wonder how Audrey would play it for the 21st century…
Oh, The Nun’s Story. This is probably my favourite Audrey film. I used to have a beautiful promotional photo from the film framed and hung on my wall, she was kneeling in prayer… sadly, it was lost or stolen when I sublet my home out several years ago. I miss it. Anyway. There’s a bit of bad acting in tthe film by a few actors, but it’s not as distracting as it is in Green Mansions, for example. I also like the more serious tone, and the fact that it was shot on location. The contemplative life is one I’ve thought about and feel drawn to, in a way. But I know (especially after years on my own) I would have a difficult time living for that bell… a life against nature. As a woman, I don’t think I would survive it. But as an actress, I would really love to play a nun. I’ve just finished reading the book as well, and was happy to learn even more of the story. I highly recommend the book and the film.
The Unforgiven. This one definitely stands out among her films. Audrey Hepburn? In a Western? I’ve never gotten into Westerns, this is one of the very few I’ve watched, but I still want to say it’s a stereotypical Western. Cowboys and Indians… I feel like more could have been done with the story, and I felt bad for the Indians who just wanted their sister to be returned to them. This could have been talked out! But many people die, instead, of course. Audrey’s accent always stood out to me in this film. I know she doesn’t have a strong British-English accent, but it’s not really American either. And I often wonder how much of the filming and what scenes were done after her fall from the horse.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Well everybody’s seen this a dozen times! I wouldn’t be surprised if I had most of it memorized. I try not to watch it too often, as with most films, so I don’t completely tire of it. It’s interesting how I feel Audrey has aged between her last film and this one. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s because it’s the first time she’s really had long hair. It was sort of long in The Nun’s Story but she had extensions as well, and then everything was hidden under that coif. Then in The Unforgiven it was all extensions, you could tell her short hair was pinned back. But in Breakfast at Tiffany’s it’s actually long. She had had her son Sean by this point and I wonder if motherhood had sort of given her a new maturity. Because to me there is a growth between The Unforgiven and all the films that come after. I can’t completely put my finger on it.
I haven’t seen The Children’s Hour in a while, but it’s definitely a good one. It keeps my attention, although I ask myself why it was shot in black and white when colour was definitely an option by then. It stirs an interest in me to read the original book or play, as well. I know it’s based on a true story. I wonder how they would have shot it had they had less restrictions on what they could not say or show in film. I know it was the second time William Wyler had based a film on this story, the first time in the 1930s when there were even more restrictions. I always wonder what Hollywood would have been like had the censors not come about. I do believe we should be responsible with what we create, but I also feel that policing what we make and what we see is not really the answer. It does drive people to be more creative in how to tell their stories, work around the censors, be less obvious, which in a way is nice, and can turn out some beautifully creative scripts and shots, but can be so destructive as well.
Charade. I’ve seen this one several times. The first few times were so far apart I really couldn’t remember what happened when I saw it again, which is pretty enjoyable – to be able to watch a film two or three times and still be in suspense. It’s a good film, although again she’s falling for a man she doesn’t know, who keeps lying to her about who he is, what his name is… but she doesn’t care. Would this work in reverse, with a man falling for a woman who keeps lying to him? I don’t know. What is with these films. How is she in love with him?
Paris When it Sizzles. I wonder what audiences thought, two pictures in a row, Audrey in Paris. This isn’t a great movie, but I always enjoyed it just because it was silly. “I’m like, so happy for you.” I wish Audrey had done more comedy.
My Fair Lady. A classic, even though they didn’t use her voice. I very much wish they would dub her back in for a special release. You can tell when it’s Marni singing and it’s distracting. They dubbed Freddie though, too, poor thing. I adore Rex Harrison in this. Actually haven’t seen him in anything else. Was he in any other films? Well there’s something I need to know. Once again, wishing for every costume in this film. I know this is fiction, it’s a film, a musical… and so much is not realistic, but once in a while something bothers me. In the span of one song, Eliza can go from talking like a Cockney girl to speaking like Audrey Hepburn. How. Just how. Please teach me.
How to Steal a Million. We’re getting into the 1960s and styles I’m not as fond of. Audrey of course looks cute, and it’s an entertaining story. And a lesson in “read the fine print before signing anything.” Which nobody ever does, let’s face it.
Two for the Road. For some reason I put this movie on frequently last year while I was working on sewing projects. Maybe it was the French countryside, the 60’s… the pace of the film… It’s not a terribly upbeat film, but I like it all the same. And after a few viewings you start figuring out the timeline. I remember it may have been my first time seeing it, on my first trip to Paris in a theatre where they had a showing for a group of film buffs. I went with a friend and enjoyed it on the big screen. I don’t remember much more than that!
Wait Until Dark. Another one I hadn’t seen in a while. Actually I probably haven’t seen it since before I worked on Alan Arkin’s show, the Kominsky Method at Warner Brothers. That was a wonderful time. And it turns out, according to the plaque on the wall of one of the soundstages, that they filmed a part of Wait Until Dark on that same stage! Anyway, it’s a good film. And funny because, similar to The Children’s Hour, it takes place mainly in one setting. Probably because they were both based on plays, of course. It must be an emotionally intense play to perform night after night. Although I don’t know any blind people, personally, I think Audrey did a good job. I would love to learn more about life without sight and how people learn to get about in their daily lives.
Robin and Marian. I’d only seen this film once before, hated the ending, and had no desire to watch it again… so it was time to watch it again! I couldn’t tell if it was a drama or comedy, but I enjoyed it a bit more than before. I still hate the ending and also wonder how Maid Marian would have that perm. I thought nuns shaved their heads, but I am not an expert on nuns.
Bloodline. This may be the first Audrey film where I am not interested at all in the wardrobe. Even her habit in Robin and Marian was more interesting than the clothes she wore in this film. But it’s just not my style, I know. That hair is not my favourite (on anybody!!) either. This is also a film I’ve only seen once in the past, and it’s still not a favourite. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention but I never understood the link between the snuff films and nude women being murdered, and the storyline. I’m Googling now and still can’t really see why that needed to be in there. Other little details were annoying as well, like the very modern looking photos in that ancient photo album. Oh well.
They All Laughed. I didn’t laugh the first time I saw this movie, and I’m not laughing so much this time either. OK, there are moments, and I can see how they’re trying to make it funny. It’s interesting to see Audrey’s son Sean in the role of Jose. It’s also sobering to think that Dorothy Stratten was killed by her ex-husband shortly before the film was released. I have a friend who was working at the Playboy mansion when it happened, and was even the one to answer the phone when the phone call was received. So tragic. And the reason why we need conflict resolution and critical thinking and the like taught to children.
Love Among Thieves. I remember enjoying this one, and I did enjoy it again this time. Even though Robert Wagner knows something about Natalie Wood’s death. But still… the movie wasn’t bad, it was sort of old-fashioned and much more enjoyable than the previous two films. And Audrey surprises us all with her piano playing ability! She’s amazing.
Last but not least, Always. Another film I’d only seen once before. I remember being disappointed that Audrey wasn’t in it very much. But on my second watch, I did enjoy the film, and doubly enjoyed her appearances. My envy of her children for growing up with such an amazing mother was triggered, though. I love my own mom, but especially in this role Audrey is just such a soothing presence. You can imagine she was a very good listener and could really make you feel she cared. I think I’ve spent too much of my life looking for someone like that, rather than being someone like that, and still hoping I can change.
So now I’ve made it through all of her movies! It took longer than I planned, but not by much. And I enjoyed watching her grow and age. How interesting it must be to grow up on film like that. And how wonderful to be able to leave such classic works behind.
I must continue to immerse myself in Audrey, to learn her mannerisms and intonation. I’ve been working (well… slowly. I really need to put more effort into it!!) on Dutch and learning to speak it as she spoke it (which I’m told is very proper, and with an accent, which, as a semi-French-speaking American, shouldn’t be too difficult). It does help that I have a Dutch boyfriend and have been spending plenty of time in Holland. Fingers crossed we can sort out a way to keep me here!
This post has been long enough so I’m going to end it here! What is your favourite and least favourite Audrey movie?
Not a lot to report on these days, but several lovely ladies I’ve met through Instagram joined with me to make a fun little video in honour of Audrey Hepburn’s 91st birthday. We dedicated it to a fundraising effort for Doctors Without Borders. If you have a couple dollars to spare (and I know things are tight for most of us right now, so if you don’t it’s OK! Maybe just pass along the video!) you can donate here.
I think it’s amazing how many women who aren’t even look-alikes to each other, can transform themselves into Audrey look-alikes. I always find myself able to recognize Audrey in different faces, and it’s honestly a little game I play sometimes… I saw a girl in the streets of Paris once that I thought resembled Audrey. I sometimes wonder what a young Audrey would look like these days – what kind of haircut would she have, what would she be wearing?
Anyway enough of that! I just came here to share the video with you! I hope you enjoy it!
If you would like to find any of us on Instagram, these are our handles!
I hope everybody had a lovely time over the holidays, and I’d like to wish you a belated happy new year! I’ve been anticipating the ’20s for a while now, and I’m not-so-secretly hoping that the fashion and the music in this next decade take some cues from the original Roaring ’20s. But we can leave behind a Great Depression and Prohibition! In fact, speaking of legalizing things (and considering I spent my New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam!), I’m really hoping the ’20s are also a decade in which cannabis can be legalized around the world. It’s far more useful, and less harmful, than alcohol, and it’s absolutely medicinal – and essential even, to some people. I hope governments can make a rational decision and make it legal again. Oh there are so many areas in which I hope we make some leaps and bounds towards a better world where we all have more freedom… we’ve come pretty far since the 1920’s but still have so far to go. Anyway… back to Audrey!
I spent my holidays in the Netherlands, with my boyfriend and his family, near Arnhem. Yes, I now officially have a boyfriend! And, like many important people in my life, I can, in a way, thank Audrey for introducing us. But we’ll save that story for another time!
Being so close to Amsterdam, and knowing about the Intimate Audrey exhibit, I decided to go see it as part of my research. The exhibit was created by her son Sean Hepburn Ferrer, and was previously on display in Brussels. I hadn’t managed to include that as a stop in my summer travels, but now that it was in Holland, and I was spending a lot of time in Holland, well… how could I not?
We drove up to Amsterdam on a Saturday and parked the car in our secret “cheap” spot (discovered on New Year’s Eve), and then made the half hour walk over to the Beurs van Berlage. We first had a nice hot coffee and an apple crumble in the adjacent café (mmmmmmm!) before heading into the exhibit.
About two hours later, we emerged. The time definitely flew by! I can’t even remember how many rooms and walls were covered with photos of Audrey. I always tell myself I should take notes or make better mental notes, but no. I’m usually so in the moment that it just doesn’t happen. But I can tell you that it started with a small room with pictures of her parents’ families. Or at least the Van Heemstras. I could only pick out the photos with her mother as a grown woman, or Audrey as a small girl. I didn’t recognize anybody else, and there were no explanations to help us out. It’s always fascinating to look at photos from over a century ago, but I would have loved to know more about the people we were looking at. But as the girl at the reception/gift shop desk told us as we entered, it was more of an “experience” than a record of her life.
There were photos from Audrey’s childhood, and some sweet pictures of her with her brother, Ian, probably in her early 20’s. There were pictures from her wedding to Mel Ferrer, and candid photos with some of her Hollywood friends. Her wedding dress was there, and next to it, a small case with her two gold wedding rings. I was most excited about these, as I’ve designed a recreation ring with a 3D printing company (you can check that out here!). Finally! In person! The rings appeared slightly wider than the one I designed, but otherwise, were identical. You could tell that she favoured the white gold ring (so would I – I’ve had this thing for white gold since I discovered it as a teen!), as the facets were more worn than the ones on the yellow gold ring. Nearby was a cloth napkin with their wedding dinner menu on it, and some old sayings written in German that we tried to translate but mostly failed to understand.
We were not allowed to take pictures of any of the photos (and I assume the rings) in the exhibit, though I sure would have liked to! It was lovely to be able to see some ‘new’ photos of Audrey. Especially candid, off-set pictures. Many of her childhood drawings were also on display, as well as a whole set of notes for a speech she made for UNICEF. It was really a delight to be able to see all of these things.
For those visitors who are familiar Audrey’s life, however, one will immediately be aware of a glaringly obvious omission from the timeline. There was a gaping hole between the end of her marriage to Mel Ferrer, and her UNICEF years. Unless I missed something, there wasn’t even one mention of her marriage to Andrea Dotti, the birth of her son, Luca Dotti, her life in Rome, her second divorce, or her relationship with Robert Wolders.
I don’t even really know what to say about this, as I don’t know the rational behind it. The exhibit was put on by her first son, Sean, and I would think if he only wanted to include pictures and memories from his own life with Audrey, that could perhaps be a logical theme for a gallery. “My life with Audrey,” or something. But it included everything from her childhood to her death – except basically the entire 1970s. There is no logical explanation offered. One could walk away thinking she had had only one husband in her life, and only one son, so I find it terribly misleading. Three very important people to her went unmentioned and unpictured in this exhibit. It doesn’t sit well with me, nor with several other fans I know who have paid a visit. And of course, me being me… I may be the only one to say something about it publicly. Why do I do this? I don’t know. I’m a very open and honest person. I don’t really like lying by omission, and if I didn’t say something about it, I would not be telling the whole truth about my experience. I just can’t not say something, when it’s the one thing that gnawed at me from the moment I noticed it.
Anything I could say about it would be pure speculation and assumptions, though. I was not disappointed, per se, in the exhibit. I loved to see all of the photos, and her rings, and to watch some brief interviews with her friends such as Doris Brynner and Gregory Peck. I loved it. I always love seeing and learning more about Audrey. But I am disappointed in the decision to omit people who were important to her. It could not have been accidental.
The way certain things were labeled, as “my” wedding dress, “my” such-and-such… to create the feeling that Audrey was sharing her photo albums and treasured items with us, is overshadowed by this censorship. She would never have excluded Andrea, Luca, or Robert, in the memory book of her life. If the idea was to make it seem like Audrey was the guide to this trip down memory lane, any personal rivalries should have been put aside to let Audrey speak. Someone should have asked themselves, “What Would Audrey Do?” (I always wish that question had a better abbreviation than WWAD!)
It was a beautiful exhibit and I enjoyed it… but the way it was deliberately curated to erase people from Audrey’s life without explanation to visitors left me wondering what Audrey would have to say about it all. Because of anybody, her opinion is the one that matters most. I can only imagine her deep sighs.
The Amsterdam exhibit ended at the end of January, and I apologize for not writing about it sooner, but I’ve been busy with a lot of things in my personal life. There is a second reason as well, though.
Because there is a second Intimate Audrey exhibit running at the exact same time, in La Spezia, Italy at the Fondazione Carispezia.
At first, I thought I had read that the exhibit was moving to Italy after Amsterdam. But then I realized this was not the case. And then I got very curious, because I heard that her wedding dress and rings were on display there as well. And of course that couldn’t be possible. One or the other would have to be fakes.
So this past weekend, I made the 4 hour drive to La Spezia with my boyfriend to investigate for you. I know not everybody has the opportunity to do this, and I felt that if I could make it happen, I should. And here is what I found…
The wedding dress and rings on display in Italy were definitely replicas. Nowhere nearby was any evident description clarifying this. A close look at the rings confirms that they are brand new, with no wear, and most likely not even made of gold. At this point I regretted not getting a picture of the rings in Brussels but it was absolutely obvious that these were fakes and had never been worn. If I’m able to update this with comparison photos, I will. I was sent one of the wedding dresses, but I would love to show the rings as well.
Neither of the Vespas on display in either location are the original Vespa used in the movie Roman Holiday, if you’re wondering. The original was auctioned off in 2017 for $200,000.
There were definitely some authentic items there, such as two pairs of worn ballet flats, and a pair of tennis shoes she wore for her UNICEF work. There were notes she made in Italian for a UNICEF speech, and a few more of her drawings (although I didn’t pay close enough attention to be able to tell if they were different from the ones in Holland – originals or copies).
The Italian exhibit was maybe half the size of the Amsterdam exhibit, but once again skipped over the 1970s. I did see one photo with Robert Wolders in it, so I’m assuming that same photo may have been in the Amsterdam exhibit as well, and I missed it. Again though, no mention at all of her second husband or child.
Again, no photos were permitted, and I’ve been told it was to ‘protect the copyrights of the photographers,’ but the more I think on that, the more it doesn’t really make sense to me. I’ve been to other photography exhibits were there were no such restrictions on photographing anything. I’m no lawyer, and I know it’s a complicated subject, but…. In my understanding, even if somebody took a picture of a picture, to be able to use that in a commercial capacity, they would have to reach out to the copyright holder of that photo. I don’t believe, just based on what I know, that sharing a picture of another picture is a copyright infringement if there is no commercial intent. Many of the photos were filmed for the promotional videos of the exhibits, which can be found on YouTube. How that isn’t violating copyright and how a picture or video I may take and share is, is beyond my realm of expertise. I also wonder if all of the photographers or copyright holders of all the photos in the entire exhibit gave their permission for the photos to be used. It would have been an enormously large task to track them all down. But perhaps the rules of exhibiting photography are different. I have been unable to sort out the rules of exhibiting other people’s photography. I would assume they took all the necessary steps. If anybody can enlighten me on how displaying other people’s photographs works, I’d love to know, because it’s really not clear to me.
To wrap it all up, I’ll leave you with this. If the original exhibit with her authentic wedding dress and rings is on display again somewhere, I do think it’s worth a visit. There are many many ‘new’ photographs to enjoy. Like I said, we spent a whole two hours in there! The exhibit in La Spezia is worth checking out if you’re in the area, as it is free entrance, but it’s much smaller than the other exhibit, we were in and out in about a half an hour.
For each of them, however, I personally felt extremely awkward walking through and realizing that the curator seemed to be making an effort to erase Audrey’s second husband and son from her life, as if I’d walked into a room and into the middle of a family feud. I had this uneasy feeling that I was supporting something she would not have approved of.
I hate that all recent Audrey events – the Christie’s auction, this exhibit – leave me with mixed emotions. Excitement and curiosity, but also the feeling that it’s not what Audrey would have wanted. I can only hope that things will get better.
So that’s my mixed review of the Intimate Audrey exhibit(s). Did you go? What did you think?
I’m a little behind on my posting here, but you have not been forgotten! Have I been forgotten? Give me a comment to let me know you’re still out there! 🙂
It’s been a busy time. After Switzerland I went to Holland, where I stayed for about 9 days. From there I went to visit friends in Fontainebleau, before arriving in the south of France. I spent weeks looking for an apartment (don’t even get me started on the French “CDI”) and finally moved in and have been dealing with boxes, and finding furniture and all sorts of things like that. But let’s go back to Holland!
Audrey spent her childhood in Arnhem and Velp, during World War 2. I can imagine it looked quite different back then…. The house she and her mother and relatives lived in during the war is no longer there, replaced by a block of apartments. This is where the Dutch launch of Robert Matzen‘s book was held, back in September while I was visiting. When Robert told me the date of the book launch, I decided it would be a good time to visit, and it was! I met Robert in person, I saw Luca again briefly, and I made a couple of new friends as well. I have to admit, that even though I was trying to learn some Dutch, I failed in my mission to learn enough by September to be able to converse with anybody. Dutch words are not sticking in my brain! I’m not giving up yet though, of course. I really didn’t study regularly, and that would make a difference.
Anyway, I once again created a little video tour of as many places as I could manage, which you can view here on YouTube:
Soon after arriving in Arnhem, I decided I needed a little change, and sought out a hair salon nearby. It turns out that I was very close to one apartment building that Audrey lived in briefly before the war, on Jansbinnensingel, and on that street there were several salons. And as luck would have it – there was one right in her building! So of course I went to that one.
The next day, I attended the book launch of Dutch Girl, along with perhaps 200 other attendees at Rozendaalselaan 32, where Audrey spent her war years. It was a great turnout. Several people gave speeches, in Dutch and in English. A ballerina performed a short piece to the music Audrey danced to in Secret People, Waltz No. 2 by Chopin. A statue by Yvon van Wordragen was unveiled outside in the front garden by Luca. After this celebration, we all moved to a nearby church (and I got to ride in an old fire truck!) where Luca and Robert were interviewed and a reception was held. Of course I got my (English) book signed.
The rest of my stay was spent exploring Arnhem and spending some time with my new friends. I really look forward to my next trip… which actually will be quite soon… 😉 I’m planning on having a very merry Dutch Christmas!
My name is Kendal Brenneman, and I believe in dreaming big. In 2020, filming is to begin on a series based on the life of Audrey Hepburn. In 2019, my goal is to become the perfect candidate for the role.
And yes, I’m wearing a pair of Audrey’s shoes. ;-)