By Joseph Batory
Audrey Hepburn was a giant among Hollywood actresses. Her accomplishments include what few in her profession have ever achieved: an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, and a Tony. And she always “turned heads” with her beauty.
But beyond being a gifted actress, Audrey Hepburn was also a woman of deep conviction and commitment, a caring person whose advocacy for humanitarian causes poured out of her heart.
Born to affluent parents, Audrey’s life should have been easy. But World War II changed everything. Robert Matzen, author of Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and WW II, has uncovered some remarkable heroism of Audrey Hepburn who as a 15-year-old teenager worked with the Dutch Resistance against the Nazis in the Netherlands. Indeed, she dangerously carried messages and warnings to families protecting Jews.
And there is much more. During the 1980’s, after achieving much success, Audrey Hepburn could have easily lived out her life comfortably in Europe. But she made a firm commitment to devote the final years of her life to UNICEF (The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund).
In 1988, Audrey became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. She devoted herself to reaching out to the impoverished children in Africa, Asia and Latin America, It was not unusual for her to be onsite, holding (hugging), mingling closely, and conversing with children and often the sickly ones.
Audrey visited UNICEF emergency operations in Turkey, Ethiopia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Guatemala, El Salvador, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, and Sudan. She was involved in providing food and drinking water, training programs for women, health issues, projects for children on the street, and improving schools.
In 1992, Audrey was diagnosed with a rare appendicular cancer and tragically, she died at her home in Switzerland on January 20, 1993.
Audrey Hepburn was a superb actress and a stunning beauty, but also a woman of relentless compassion and activism. Her humanitarianism is an inspiration for all of us toward caring and taking action for those less fortunate!
Joseph Batory is the author of three books and more than 200 published articles on politics, education, and history.