by Edward Z. Epstein
(Running Press, $25)
Reviewed by Larry Cox
Audrey Hepburn could appreciate the irony that while she spent years studying ballet, she never became a dancer. And although she didn’t devote time to acting during her formative years, she became both a movie and stage star.
She was a rare phenomenon who did not have classic movie-star looks. In fact, renown British photographer and fashion designer Cecil Beaton once described Hepburn as “a new type of beauty: huge mouth, flat Mongolian features, heavily painted eyes, a coconut coiffure, long nails without varnish, a wonderfully lithe figure, a long neck, but perhaps too scraggy.” What Beaton failed to note is that regardless of the imperfections he saw, Hepburn had a presence that connected both professionally and privately.
She appeared in the Broadway production of “Gigi” when she was 22 years old. In 1953, she made her first film, “Roman Holiday,” co-starring Gregory Peck. It was a hit, and she began “Sabrina” the following year.
A great deal was riding on “Sabrina.” The film was crucial to her career, since it would prove — one way or another — if her success in “Roman Holiday” had been a fluke. It was a difficult project. The script was written as they went along, and Humphrey Bogart and William Holden, her co-stars, disliked each other. The set was often hostile and tense. Despite difficulties, when Hepburn and Holden met it was electrifying, and their attraction gave “Sabrina” an authenticity that made the film a major hit.
Through extensive interviews, author Edward Epstein reveals for the first time the on-set romance between these two film legends, and how it became a common thread in both their lives.