Born Audrey Kathleen Ruston in Brussels, she was the only child of an English father, Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston and a Dutch mother, Ruston’s second wife, the former Baroness Ella van Heemstra.
Raised in Arnhem during the Nazi occupation in World War II, Hepburn spent many years at ballet school, before deciding to pursue acting. She first gained critical praise playing the title role in the Broadway production of Gigi (1951). She was then cast in the film Roman Holiday (1953) as Princess Ann, the role for which she won an Oscar. She was one of the leading Hollywood actresses of the 1950s and 1960s, and received four more Oscar nominations, including one for her iconic performance as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961). In 1964, she played Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, the critically-acclaimed film adaptation of the musical.
From 1988 until her death in 1993, she served as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and was honoured with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work. In 1999, she was ranked as the third greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute in their list AFI’s 100 Years…100 stars.