Audrey Hepburn as Housewife

Audrey_hepburn-en-pointe Even the celebrated have a corner or two of life that was — and still is ordinary.

I found this great photo of Audrey Hepburn. Any others you'll see on the web show her "in character," that is, her face fixed with a coy gamine gaze, or hair upswept, with long gloves and a cigarette holder in hand.

Not this one. It must have been taken in the 1950s. It was possible that she was married to actor Mel Ferrer at the time. As you can see, it shows her crouched in front of an oven, potholder in hand, gauging the readiness of whatever is in the pan. Her look is causal: barefoot and dressed in a short summer romper. You'll note that, even in that stance, she is on tiptoe.

A formally trained ballerina, she was always en pointe.

Born in England to a Danish mother and a father who was a Nazi sympathizer, when her father deserted the family, her mother took her and her brother out of Great Britain to the Netherlands. While her country was under German occupation, she had to change her name so as not to be incarcerated, as her brother was. She supported the Danish Resistance by putting on covert fundraising benefits. When the Germans tried the starve the Danish for information on local Jews, she, like others, scrounged for food, even going so far as to crush tulip buds into flour for bread and cakes. Her starvation led to a lifetime battle with anemia.

Because of these experiences, since the 1950s she willing gave her time to UNICEF, becoming one of its Goodwill Ambassadors in 1999.

She knew the value of a life well lived. It drove her success in her career, which she took quite seriously. And despite two miscarriages, she eventually had the children she'd always hoped for. Two sons: one with Ferrer, and another with her second husband, Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti.

Sadly, both men were philanderers. She was smart enough to get out of both marriages.

I know this is a publicity shot. That's okay. Whatever her domestic skills truly were, one thing is certain: we don't love her for her baking and basting, but for her joi de vivre on film.

Besides, any woman who can bake a cake from tulip buds is a force to be reckoned with, in or outside the kitchen.


SLHW fauxsmall

 Josie' s Next Book: Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

Look for it in bookstores June 1, 2010

Pre-Order at any of the bookstore links in my sidebar…

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