Audrey Hepburn: The Sorority Girl’s Pin-Up

Audrey HepburnGuest blogger Jessica Pickens writes:

On a college campus you can’t miss the familiar outline of Holly Golightly with her cigarette holder while wearing a long black gown on the back of a sorority T-shirt. And of course under that photo will be Coco Chanel’s quote “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” (Though that is completely ironic, because Givenchy dressed Audrey Hepburn in most of her films). If you don’t believe me, scroll through this blog that describes itself as a “celebration of Greek Life.” There are at least four posts about both Hepburn and Chanel.

Sororities have taken the stylish, gamine star and are using her as their unofficial spokesperson for the pay-for-your-friends groups. She is on their t-shirts, event fliers, posters in their dorm rooms, coffee cups, keychains and Facebooks. Miss Hepburn helps announce fall and spring recruitment, formals and bake sales they have to raise money for their charities. If Audrey Hepburn was a business, it would be one of the wealthiest companies in the United States. Once in my photography class, I even heard a boy ask who Audrey Hepburn was and my friend Dominic Beamer responded, “You know, she’s that lady who is on the back of all of the sorority t-shirts.”

But why pick on Audrey Hepburn? At the start of her career, she was described as having enormous eyebrows, rat chewed bangs and horse teeth. Does that sound glamorous or sexy? I think a large part is the Givenchy outfits in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  Who can forget the black dress she wears in front of Tiffany’s, the pink party dress she wears when Fred dies or even her brown trench coat?  However, Givenchy also designed the clothes for Sabrina, Charade and How to Steal a Million. Why don’t we see an outline of Audrey in that crazy helmet hat from How to Steal a Million or the dress she wows the Lamarees with at the exclusive dinner party in Sabrina?

Audrey Hepburn was one of my first favorite actresses when my movie love began. My love with her started with Sabrina and then Funny Face.  I eventually made my way around to Breakfast at Tiffany’s.When I first saw it in the 8th grade I had no clue what was going on: Why is she getting arrested? Why did he give her $50 to go to the powder room? What is Patricia Neal’s deal? Now that I’m older, I understand the drug and sexual references; Breakfast at Tiffany’s is covering some pretty serious stuff.  I often wonder if these girls who say it’s their favorite movie watch it for the glamour of Givenchy’s clothes and George Peppard’s good looks or if they have even seen it at all.  Are they looking at the deeper meaning that Truman Capote wrote about in his novel: a woman toying with the idea of bisexuality?  Audrey Hepburn even felt like she was miscast in the role.

Audrey Hepburn was glamorous in the movies, but like most actresses, didn’t have a fabulous personal life:

•She hid in a cellar from the Nazis during World War II. She and her mother lived in occupied Holland and were forced to eat tullip bulbs and grass. This is what lead to her eating disorder later on in life.

• She wanted to be a ballerina but was told that she was too tall.

• Audrey had a difficult time getting pregnant. She was pregnant at the start of shooting for 1960′s The Unforgiven, but was thrown from the horse and suffered a miscarriage–along with a broken back.

• Audrey had two failed marriages: One with actor Mel Ferrer and another with Andre Dotti, who cheated on her.

• While filming My Fair Lady, Hepburn worked very hard learning the songs and desperately wanted to sing. In the end she was dubbed by Marnie Nixon. Hepburn later said she wouldn’t have agreed to the film had she known this.

An example of Audrey Hepburn on a T-shirt.

• She was constantly self conscious about her flat chest, thinness and looks. She was very uncomfortable and unhappy during the movie Funny Face, and wanted then-husband Ferrer with her during all times.

However, Audrey Hepburn also was a wonderful woman who had a love for gardens and spent the end of her life doing work with UNICEF. She was a great actress  as well, and won an Oscar for Roman Holiday. It’s a shame to me that she has her image defamed on brainless, comic sans-fonted sorority t-shirts.

Comet Over Hollywood, named for the 1938 Kay Francis film Comet Over Broadway, offers anything from Hollywood beauty tips to rants about Katherine Hepburn. Jessica Pickens is a journalism student at Winthrop University who is interested in silent films to anything made before 1964. She writes for Winthrop’s student newspaper, The Johnsonian, and the Shelby Star in Shelby North Carolina. Her Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/pages/Comet-Over-Hollywood-Blog/105843689466479?ref=ts

  • Grand Old Movies

    fabulous write-up – Audrey Hepburn is not a favorite of mine (and frankly I never could see the appeal in Breakfast at Tiffany’s or in Sabrina either), but I enjoyed your post very much -

  • JUanita Curtis

    She probably wasn’t the best choice for My Fair Lady but she was delightful in the role. Audrey had a very warm and engaging persona on the screen and brought a lot of class to her roles. Although not my favourite actress I still love Breakfast at Tiffanys and that is why she remains an icon to this day.

    • Bruce Reber

      IMO MFL would have been way better with Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle (she played the role in the Broadway version). The same year (1964) she starred in Disney’s “Mary Poppins”, and I really liked her in that.

  • Anonymous.

    I suppose she was a decent actress. But a pin-up girl…? Nope. Sorry. No sex appeal.

  • Marsha

    Ah – Audrey was of the heavens! For me – perfection on & off screen. And if those college girls chose her as a role model – well, better than Lady Gaga! She is iconic, a fashion goddess and her stardom is a hymn to decency, charisma & feminine charm! A thinking person’s pin-up for sure (and isn’t that what people are supposed to do in college?). A vet fun post!

  • Jackie

    She was awesome in “Charade” and “Wait Until Dark” I think she should have done a LOT more thriller type movies.When I was in High School my math teacher looked JUST like her..It was weird ( It was as if she really WAS Audrey Hepburn ) and this lady was here to hide out from the media for a while. She was only at the school for a few months and then just left. Everyone said the same thing.No one knew from where she had come or where she went when she left. She was very quiet,and was always mopping her brow. She didn’t look well…sooo thin.

  • Jim Crawford

    Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Charade. She was great. My Fair Lady was a wrong choice, should have been Julie Andrews. By the way, what is a ‘sorority girl? Outside the U.S. this term is unkkown.

  • Fred B.

    Truman Capote, who wrote the novella of “B@T” always wanted Marilyn Monroe to play Holly, but MM was told that playing a prostitute could hurt her image so she turned down the role and Audrey got the part that made her an icon…….

    • Mariana

      I know! I absolutely LOVE her, and I toghuht that she deserved it for sure. Not to mention, the movie she won it for was FANTASTIC and sent such a great message. Well deserved!

  • Gary Vidmar

    Like Garbo, Bergman and Loren, Hepburn could act and gave us a refreshing, European feminine image coupled with a unique sex appeal. She almost always had a stylized screen persona and exuded an elegant charm. Her best roles were TWO FOR THE ROAD, WAIT UNTIL DARK and ROBIN AND MARIAN.

  • Trippy Trellis

    She was the most enchanting creature ever created by God.

  • Tom Johnson

    I fell in love with her while watching “Charade,” and it has never faltered! I named my first cat Audrey, and my last female cat Sabrina, and I always plant the Audrey Hepburn rose, and the bedroom has the origiinal “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” pster against a wall of Tiffany blue. I loved her, and thought “Sabrina” was th ebst of her early movies! Hard to imagine, Marilyn Monroe was the first choice for Holly Golightly, and Audrey was the first choice to play “Clepatra!” And then her work for UNICEF!
    A goddess!

  • nana

    Audrey Hepburn gave a remarkable performance in The Nun’s Story. I don’t think there has ever been a better film on the struggle to live up to the demands of a life based on religious faith.

    I hope her talent and the generosity of her spirit are not lost on the college girls who seem so focused on her looks.

  • Tommy T

    I kind of feel sorry for whoever it was that said Audrey Hepburn had no sex appeal. Granted, she was rather “Flat-chested” and might not have been the prettiest woman on the planet but her characters always seemed to have the characteristics that would make a man fall in love with her and want her as a lifetime companion. I guess it was exemplified in “Sabrina” where the young stud brother didn’t appreciate her until she got all polished up. Then he only saw what he wanted on the outside. Then it took the older brother, the man, to be overwhelmed by the woman on the inside. Boys loved Marilyn and Mamie; men loved Audrey. It’s amazing that in only a few years, how those 38-DD’s become 38-Longs and lose their appeal.

  • Jim Crawford

    I’m back again with the question “What is a sorority girl?” I live in Australia and this term is unknown.

    • Mrs. Peel

      Hi Jim, In the states, at many universities and colleges, in addition to dormitory housing there are sorority (women) and fraternity (men) houses for members of their societies. They’re also called “Greeks” as each is designated by Greek letters (i.e. Alpha Delta Epsilon). A student must apply to or be invited to join the fraternity or sorority. Some are very prestigious and snobbish, and thus difficult to get into. Most have missions of community service and many social events, and all cost more than regular dorm rooms, but residents often form lifelong bonds which open doors in future careers. For a comic view of fraternity life, see the film “Animal House” — hysterical!

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667253027 Gayle Gerard

        Sorority girls are often young women who have no self-confidence and join sororities so they can become part of a collective pesonality. They behave like sheep, following the leaders and mimicking everything they do. Their main focus is finding a husband and feeling that they “fit in” somewhere. It’s disgraceful that they would choose Audrey Hepburn as an icon: a Barbie doll maybe, but not Hepburn.

  • Leslie Sexton

    Audrey Hepburn and Katherine Hepburn, my two absolute favorites, still and ever. Some of the new actresses are starting to shine, but not quite as bright! Loved this blog. Oh Jim, sorority girls are girls in college/university that belong to one of the female “fraternities” (Greek letters)called sororities.

  • Roger Phillips

    I can’t understand the enjoyment of ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s”; in it Audrey plays a whore,a slut and the movie is basically nasty but with no bad language. What is glamorous about that? For Audrey’s really good movies I love “Roman Holiday” which for a comedy has a sad ending. Wait Until Dark” is truly on the edge of your seat wonderful with her playing a blind woman. “My Fair Lady” is magic despite the fact she did not sing but neither did Rex Harrison really sing either. With her and Cary Grant “Charade” had to be good and I loved the plot twists.

  • Elizabeth

    Audrey Hepburn was a unique actress and I love all of her movies. She well deserved the oscar she won for her first role in ‘Roman Holiday’ which was a really great film. It is amazing how many times aspects of that film are used in other films. It is so tragic that she died so young.

  • Jim Smith

    Audrey Hepburn was an accomplished artist, extremely photogenic and truly had “star quality”. If you view her motion pictures, she captivates you with her charm and warm persona. Not many ladies, have achieved the star quality that Audrey displays in her movies. On screen and off screen she was loved by many and still is.

  • Geraldine Hawkins

    What I found so compelling about Audrey Hepburn was her gentleness, which shone through all of her performances. “The Nun’s Story” is one of the loveliest things I’ve ever seen ANY actress do, and “Roman Holiday” is a treasure. Some of the others are clinkers — especially “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”! Why in the world was someone as spiritual as Audrey in a silly movie about a call girl?

    • Bruce Reber

      If they ever did a sequel to “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” it’d probably have been titled “Lunch At Cartier”. I agree that that BAT was one of her clunkers – my favorite Audrey Hepburn movies are “Charade”, “The Children’s Hour”, “The Nun’s Story”, “Paris When It Sizzles”, “How To Steal A Million” and “Wait Until Dark” – not necessarily in that order.

  • Jim Crawford

    Thank you Leslie, now I know. Dont forget War & Piece she was ‘pretty’ good in that one. I for one could’nt fault her in anything, she was lovely.

  • Roy Pipher

    Audrey defines style, class, elegance. She is a classic. And classics never go out of style.

  • Anne

    She was my first celebrity crush, and I still think she looks pretty darn good. Who cares if she’s “flat-chested”? I don’t think that she’s a very good actress, however, but that doesn’t really bother me.

  • Judy

    One of my Audrey Hepburn film favorites is The Children’s Hour with James Garner and Shirley MacLaine. Her speaking voice was one of the most enchanting I’ve ever heard from any actress, ever.

    I quite agree with others here about The Nun’s Story. A very lovely story about a nun’s struggle with humility vs. pride, her faith, and then her struggle with her hatred of the Nazis during WWII. All played out with the backdrop of her service to the Belgian Congo and her love of its people. I can’t think of another actress of the time doing as well in the role.

  • Shirley

    I think she was an astonishing actress especially in Charade, and Wait Until Dark which was a nail bitting mystery. I also think Hepburn is a true pioneer for women in the arts as well in life as a philanthropist. What I mean, is in her movies she was sexy and vibrant funny and a smart woman without being pushy,or have to show any skin for the cameras, her movies were romantic and adventurous.

  • Jeff C

    Audrey Hepburn is a true film icon. The 1950s gave us Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, a mature Elizabeth Taylor and of course Audrey Hepburn. If you want glamour and sex appeal, take your pick. It was one hell of a decade for actresses. True, Audrey didn’t fit into the usual mold but she still had plenty of appeal, for me at least. She had a speaking voice like melted butter and a smile that was pure heaven. Even though she played damaged goods in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” I still thought she was great and her rendition of “Moon River” made me believe that she should have been allowed to do her own singing (she did do some vocals). It would have been more authentic that way. And yes Julie Andrews should have had the part but because it went to Audrey we got Julie in “Mary Poppins” instead which isn’t too bad a trade off. As for this whole sorority thing I don’t know too much about it but I hope it’s substance as well as form because Audrey had both in spades and my pick is Audrey and Sophia Loren too (wouldn’t she look good on the back of a T-shirt), and besides they were friends.

  • no one you need to know

    Audrey Hepburn was the most beautiful woman on the planet c:

  • PippasGirl

    It is really a shame that so many of the posts are negative towards Miss Hepburn. Maybe these are from so many teenager and twenty-somethings who have not had the privilege of knowing what real class is considering there is no such thing in today’s society. Audrey was superb in My Fair Lady, as she nailed the accent and should have won Best Actress; even her cast and Julie Andrews, who did win for Mary Poppins agreed. If girls want to wear Audrey on their tee-shirts, then that is all the better. Maybe some of these younger trend-setters will introduce the definition of class, style and what is a true lady to their generation, even if they don’t know the meaning of the words themselves. As a forty-two year old who was brought up in the “Old South” where a woman knows you are the image you project, we can only hope Audrey will continue to serve as a guide for what a real woman should be!

  • goarmy

    Lust is one thing, love is another. Audrey is revered and an industry in Rome.
    My wife ,our 37 yr old dgtr and all of our friends love her. Roman Holiday and Charade…..she is so beyond charming and lovable.

  • SLH

    Audrey Hepburn projected the image of a lady, something females are put down for in today’s society. Audrey did go on to have children 2 sons I believe. I think it was tragic that she ended her love affair with William Holden because he couldn’t father anymore children. Maybe Mr. Holden’s life would have been happier with Audrey by his side ? My favorites of her movies: Love in The Afternoon, Charade, The Children’s Hour, Sabrina, and Two For The Road. I like Breakfast at Tiffany’s and I even understand her character, but I don’t understand why so many think that role was her best. It seems to me she’s been picked for the sororities to highlight very superficial qualities, not because of her class or her humanitarianism, shame.

  • Ellen Christy Snyder

    I just watched “Wait Until Dark” last night on PBS. What a superb, chilling movie. Audrey Hepburn is wonderful as the blind housewife, being terrorized by Alan Arkin( Alan Arkin is fantastic in this movie, by the way). Wow that scene near the end, still causes me to jump! She is such a great actress and I love so many of her movies, but “Wait Until Dark” is probably my favorite.

  • Tom Johnson

    Thank you, Jessica! Audrey Hepburn is, and has always been, my absolute favorite screen goddess! I fell HARD for her when I first saw “Charade,” and later learned that the same scene which hit me was the scene which inspired Mancini when he wrote the music (she returns to the empty apartment and is leaning against the mantle, smoking, with only her Vuitton bags and her skis for company) I think she was robbed of the Oscar for “Wait Until Dark,” but I understand the Academy wanted to console Katherine Hepburn for the loss of Spencer Tracy. Ironically, “Two for the Road” was so ahead of its time when released – she ought to have been nominated for that, too! My faves of all the movies are “Sabrina,” and YES, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” A large original poster for the latter hangs in my bedroom, painted Tiffany box blue in her honor. AND I have some Audrey Hepburn rose bushes in the garden. She was always a lady, always so classy, and in the end, in her work for UNICEF, so good! I had the honor of meeting her too briefly in 1976 at the AFI tribute for William Wyler. I am afraid I was a tongue-tied jerk fan. Lovely in person, too! Thanks again for the tribute – you have made my whole Saturday.

  • C.J. Gelfand

    Audrey Hepburn was my beauty and fashion icon since I saw her in Roman Holiday when I was in my teens. She still is. To this day, I can’t think of any other actress who has such class, refinement and such a unique persona. To learn that her image is splattered all over t-shirts by mindless, superficial sorority girls makes me gag. What a desecration.

  • dirkwrestler

    So many Great roles! I understand her commitment to World issues, but wish she had stayed around acting more. Think of the great Matronly roles she could’ve played!

  • Antone

    Audrey Hepburn had to be Hollywood’s Miss Photogenic. If you summed her component parts, she was a reasonably attractive unusual-looking woman. However, when you put her in front of a camera and factor in the way she smiles, gazes, laughs, speaks, moves and dresses; you wind up with a stunner.

    She had a 10-second role in Alec Guinness’ 1951 The Lavender Hill Mob as Alec’s mistress, Chiquita. She walked up to the seated Alec, gave him a cheek-to-cheek neck hug, said, “You’re too kind” and walked away clutching a wad of bills. This scene totally dominated the first 5 minutes of the film.