Alas, Audrey Hepburn was just 63 when she died. But the life she lived was fascinating, even inspirational, as revealed in Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn. Though veteran celebrity biographer Donald Spoto has largely relied on previously published materials, it's the way he uses the information infusing it with passion for and knowledge of his subject that makes this book such a pleasure.
Belgian-born, raised in Holland under Nazi occupation, Hepburn grew up longing to become a ballerina. She instead became a London chorus girl, appeared in print ads for soap and shampoo, and got small film roles. By chance, she was spotted by the writer Colette who deemed her perfect for the lead role in the stage version of Gigi, about a Parisian girl raised to be a courtesan. And so the unknown 22-year-old became a Broadway star and won a Tony. She next starred opposite Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday, winning an Oscar. In the era of va-va-voom stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe, the reed-thin, flat-chested Hepburn was decidedly unique. She also had an allure that captivated Givenchy who would go on to design the fabulous clothes that made her a style icon. But if she was the queen of chic in films such as Funny Face and Breakfast at Tiffany's, beneath the poised demeanor was an inner sadness. Hepburn battled lifelong depression. There were numerous (discreet) affairs, some of them with co-stars, and two unsuccessful marriages. But, she found joy in motherhood, and as a former child of war, she empathized with the suffering children on whose behalf she tirelessly worked, through UNICEF.
Los Angeles-based writer Pat H. Broeske is the co-author of biographies of Howard Hughes and Elvis Presley.