Audrey Hepburn is a legend. Born Audrey Kathleen Ruston, today (May 4) would have have been the actress’ 90th birthday. In celebration, we’re considering some of her best performances.
In a career like Hepburn’s, it is no small feat to come up with a “best” performance from her extensive filmography. But because the actress has such a range, fans can disclose favorites in various sub-genres.
Most of her widely known work occurred in the 1950s and 1960s. The actress spent much of the rest of her life working on behalf of UNICEF as an ambassador and humanitarian. But in those two decades, Hepburn managed to give the most iconic performances in classic cinema.
Hepburn won an Oscar the very first time she was ever nominated. That sole win came for “Roman Holiday” in 1954. The actress starred opposite Gregory Peck as a princess who escapes her security one night for a dalliance with an American journalist. While it is not necessarily her best performance, she and Peck are sensational. Their combined efforts created one of the best romantic comedies of all time.
Hepburn’s other Oscar nominations came for “Sabrina,” “The Nun’s Story,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “Wait Until Dark.” Of these, “Sabrina” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” are perhaps the most widely known to her generations of fans.
“Sabrina” sees Hepburn at the peak of her romantic comedy powers. She plays the daughter of a chauffeur who is the object of affection for a pair of wealthy brothers. Humphrey Bogart and William Holden star as the aforementioned siblings, but it is Hepburn who steals the show despite working alongside such acting greats. It comes together as part Cinderella story, a part satire about class barriers and it is charming through and through.
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is based on the novella of the same name by Truman Capote. Capote imagined Marilyn Monroe playing the lead, which tells you what kind of performance is required of its star. Hepburn said the extroverted Holly Golightly was squarely against type for her because she was such an introvert. Nonetheless, the performance is iconic, with Hepburn in the famous little black dress and her dulcet tones singing “Moon River.”
Later in her career, she starred opposite Cary Grant in “Charade,” a mystery-romance that sees Hepburn playing a woman pursued by several men who are looking for a fortune stolen by her murdered husband. The chases and suspense are exhilarating, but it is the witty back and forth between Hepburn and Grant that really make the film one for the ages.
Another of Hepburn’s most iconic films also happens to be one of the most classic musicals to grace Broadway. “My Fair Lady” is among the most stylish and crowd-pleasing entries the genre has ever seen. Hepburn’s turn as the Eliza Doolittle represents something of an apex for her career. After 1964, she worked much less frequently.
Audrey Hepburn earned her final Oscar nomination for “Wait Until Dark” in 1967. This capped a career that included other notable films like “Funny Face,” “Love in the Afternoon,” “The Nun’s Story” and “Two For the Road.” Hepburn is credited with 27 films spanning 41 years and her filmography is among one of the most revered in the classic period of Hollywood.