Audrey Hepburn covers Vanity Fair’s May issue, she didn’t think she was beautiful

It’s gotten to the point where Vanity Fair’s “dead celebrity” issues are something of a joke within media circles. It’s like VF thinks there are no interesting living celebrities so a few times a year, they promote some “never before told” story about the Kennedys, or Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor or something. I’ve lost count of how many Kennedy and Marilyn covers Vanity Fair has run over the past four years. So for the May issue, VF decided to do another dead-celebrity cover, this time with Audrey Hepburn. Now, I LOVE Audrey, and I’ve read a couple of biographies about her, so why do I feel icky about this cover? I don’t know. It just seems like dead-celebrity fetishism on Vanity Fair’s part. The gist of the cover story is that they’re interviewing Audrey’s son Luca, who is working on a book about his mom’s love affair with Rome.

“She didn’t live a life secluded or behind bars; she would walk around and everybody knew her. She was part of the city. The majority of these photos are in the streets,” Audrey Hepburn’s son Luca Dotti tells Vanity Fair’s Laura Jacobs about the time his mother spent in Rome. To prepare for his new book Audrey in Rome, Dotti gathered some 2,500 photos from the archives of the Reporters Associati that capture his mother throughout the Eternal City. Dotti says what struck him the most was that “even in these candid shots she was always herself—perfect.”

Reflecting on his mother’s signature style, evidenced in many of the images in the book, Dotti remembers that scarves were her vice. “Well, it wasn’t like Imelda Marcos and shoes,” he says. “She had, like every woman, maybe 30 or 40. It was a good way to be in disguise, big sunglasses and a scarf. Occasionally she was able to do her shopping without having all the crowds behind.”

Hepburn’s iconic look was, according to her son, what she thought of as “a good mixture of defects.” Dotti explains, “She thought she had a big nose and big feet, and she was too skinny and not enough breast. She would look in the mirror and say, ‘I don’t understand why people see me as beautiful.’ ”

He also remembers that aging never scared Hepburn. “She was always a little bit surprised by the efforts women made to look young,” Dotti recalls. “She was actually very happy about growing older because it meant more time for herself, more time for her family, and separation from the frenzy of youth and beauty that is Hollywood. She was very strict about everybody’s time in life.” Though, adds Dotti, “The only big regret I have, and she would have had, is not knowing her grandchildren. Because she would have been a fantastic grandmother—cooking cakes, keeping the grandchildren on every occasion, and telling them stories.”

Of his parents’ marital struggles, Dotti says, “This is a speculation I’m making, but also a fact. She was 40 [when she married] but at the same time so much older than 40 because of all the success and history behind her. And my father was 10 years younger. To be around a woman who has been an icon for many years, and you’re a young doctor, for a man it makes a difference. If that equation was reversed, if my father was the one 10 years older and a little bit more secure, it would have probably worked out better.”

When asked in what way his mother remains most physically present in his life, Dotti says, “Through scent.” Not perfume, but “the light sensation of a smell,” Dotti says his mother preferred. “We joked a lot together about the fact that both she and I have a very good sense of smell. So there are certain scents, you know, a certain cake, or a flower, things like that. It’s not so physical, but it’s powerful. And every spring, especially here in Rome, you have this smell of orange blossom in the air. Spring is coming and it was her favorite season. It makes me think of her.”

[From Vanity Fair]

Sigh… this reminds me of my dad. My dad loved Audrey. Audrey and Ingrid Bergman were his favorite actresses. I always think that’s interesting about Audrey – men absolutely adored her. She was a style icon adored by women, of course, but men loved Audrey too. Was it her doe eyes? Her inherent sweetness? That beautiful pixie face? Her girlishness? A combination of everything?

Cover courtesy of VF, additional photos by WENN.

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96 Responses to “Audrey Hepburn covers Vanity Fair’s May issue, she didn’t think she was beautiful”

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  1. Lemony says:

    So lovely. One of a kind.

  2. aims says:

    Pure class. A rarity now a days

    • ana says:

      She was beautiful and sweet, and she also had an affair with married William Holden. She is exactly like people today or any other time in history, they go through the life and make some mistakes.

      • bns says:


        I hate it when people romanticize Old Hollywood. If anything they were worse back then.

      • andy says:

        Could you imagine if the internet existed back then?

        Questions like these would have been all over the net:

        Is Clark Gable(or insert any actor) a homosexual?

        Does Audrey Hepburn have an eating disorder?

        Did the Illuminati kill Jean Harlow?


        Marilyn Monroe would have been a blind item writer’s dream.

      • LAK says:

        Old Hollywood was really scandalous.

        The lot we have these days are completely vanilla in their scandals.

        Old Hollywood seems less scandalous because

        a) All enquiries had to go to studio publicists who controlled ALL information about the stars which was tightly controlled by them.

        b) Gullible public

        c) Public didn’t know or understand the art of PR and believed everything they were told.

        d) There was hardly an outlet for the gossip that we see these days. And the studios usually paid off anyone privy to scandalous information about any star.

      • energydrink says:


        On another note, I honestly haven’t heard thaaat many men rave about her at all though.

        Women adore her without a question, but most men, either modern or golden age would probably not list or think of her in their top 10 or even 50 most beautiful/sexy/whatever lists.

        I personally think she has a striking, memorable look and very beautiful eyes, however her gamine looks are a niche, and was never as popular or wide-spread as the curvy showgirls/pin ups.

      • ya says:

        I know….. I think about that when reading the comments on the Leann Rimes posts (which I probably shouldn’t do!), where LR’s also unconventional looks are overly scrutinized and she is so vilified.

        I wonder about how Audrey’s public image might have been different if the internet had existed back then.

      • Jane says:

        Studios buried scandals all the time as they were pretty much all powerful and could manipulate the press whenever they wanted to. Folks were not as pure and classy as has been noted.

        Can you imagine what would have been said about the wonderful romances we go on and on about now if the internet existed then!! (just a few: Newman living with Woodward more than a year before his wife filed for divorce, Gable’s out of wed lock child and cheating on his wife openly, Bogie openly cheating with Bacall and let’s not forget Tracy and Hepburn!!).

        All of the alleged same sex romps of men and women also come to mind. Of course, you could not come out then for sure. But it was crazy back then, and today’s “scandals” pale in comparison.

      • I Choose Me says:

        Well said!

    • Layale says:

      I was just talking to a friend the other day how class seems to have faded. Now, most celebs act like they’re on the Jerry Springer show. Ugh.

      • ya says:

        But do they really act all that much differently? Or are they just under a different kind of scrutiny or exposure now?

      • c'est la vie says:

        I don’t know but they don’t need to act like they’re on reality tv- side eyes to the ones that do.

        Like shall we say Kristen Stewart?

        No studio could have covered that up. She’s in a class all by herself. I wonder if her fans forget about the mini or the fact that she’s a trashy grade a homewrecker.
        Not in Hepburn’s class at all, lookswise either.

      • Happyhat says:

        I’d say that people had more class ‘back then’; as in manners were still seen as a thing to do, as opposed to some quaint stultifying book of rules. But, whilst the old Hollywood would have worn smart clothes outside, and would have never used bad language in public, they still would have been equally vulgar and scandalous behind closed doors.

        It’s a lot like when Princess Dianna and Charles got divorced, and when Prince Harry get’s caught doing whatever. The British press are up in arms about the ‘state of the monarchy’ and you have to think…really? Do you not read history books? Come on, Henry VIII practically invented the Church of England so he could get divorced. Plenty of Kings, Queens, Princes and Princesses did things that make Lindsey Lohan and Charlie Sheen look like Mother Teresa and Gandhi.

      • c'est la vie says:

        Happyhat – for years Audrey Hepburn was the well known face for UNICEF.
        I’d hardly put her in the same category as LiLo, Charlie Sheen or yes Kristen Stewart.
        Some celebrities today act as if they belong on Springer – not as ambassadors for charity.
        Do you really think that every time Kstew gives her fans and paps the finger she should be celebrated for being real? Or just being really trashy.
        An ambassador for UNICEF or any other charity she’s not. She’s just a hot mess as are the other “celebs” you mentioned.

  3. Turtle Power says:

    Why do her eyebrows look wonky in the last picture?

    • Amelia says:

      I’m guessing lighting or uneven pencil work, but I’ve got major eyebrow jealousy at the moment.
      I’ve been trying to grow them out for ages, and I’ve got some eyebrow serum which is surprisingly working very well, but it’s taking *forever*.

      • Miss Jupitero says:

        I’ve seen the untouched up versions of many of her photos– her eyebrows were *heavily* penciled over and extended using stencils. They were not natural thick or dark.

      • Happyhat says:

        Same here! 3 months in and…mine are a mess. But I’m determined to get them to grow back!!!

    • LAK says:

      The make up was done like that for the entire picture. ditto the stills.

      It’s distracting.

  4. Suze says:

    Exactly – she was unique. I can’t think of anyone like her before during or since.

    There have been lots of Marilyn wannabes, Grace Kelly look-alikes, but no one like Audrey.

  5. Mar says:

    Suze, you’re forgetting Jennifer Love Hewitt


  6. brin says:

    Definitely a combination, she was lovely, kind, and a true fashion icon.
    I loved her in “Breakfast at Tiffanys”.

  7. V4Real says:

    Wow she might have thought she wasn’t beautiful but she was.

    Now let’s keep it real. If Audrey was one of our modern day actresses we would probably loop her in with actresses who were just fishing for compliments and public confirmation that they are beautiful.

    For instance if this was Halle or Angie on the cover saying the exact same thing; we would probably say STFU because you know you’re beautiful and you’re just fishing for compliments.

    In Audrey’s case I believe she was very sincere in feeling that way. She lived in a different time when the blonde bombshells were ruling Hollywood.

    • Jane says:

      Bravo. Very well said.

    • Jane says:

      I am sure she would also be called anorexic and told to shut up and eat a sandwich.

      She accepted who she was and so did others–women were many shapes and sizes and each was OK. Though everyone in that era was not a saint (and goodness knows that is how many are protrayed), she worked hard and did much more than act.

      • EmmaStoneWannabe says:

        That’s right. When she was a child, she suffered through the Dutch famine and when she tried to put on weight afterward, it made her sick. Her body wouldn’t allow for much weight gain, so she really was skinny, when she clearly didn’t want to be, but then came to accept it in her adulthood…she sounded very genuine and humble about her looks, which really was/is rare in HWood.

    • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

      I got the feeling that she didn’t say this in public though. Didn’t he say something about the bathroom mirror?

      • Isa says:

        I agree Jo Mama. I’m not sure, because I haven’t read that much about her, but it seems like she was complaining at home, not in an interview. I bitch all the time about stuff but I try not to do it often since people roll their eyes at me.

  8. GoodCapon says:

    This is the first time I’ve heard of a “dead celebrity” magazine issues. Do other magazines do this?

  9. LadyMTL says:

    Yeah, I’ve been a subscriber to VF for a few years now and they definitely looooove their dead celebs. That said, at least it’s not yet another Marilyn or Kennedy cover, because that was getting ludicrous.

    I don’t know that much about Audrey Hepburn (aside from Breakfast at Tiffany’s the only other Hepburn movie I saw was Roman Holiday and I was kinda meh about it – sorry!) so I am actually looking forward to this issue.

    • & says:

      This issue at least makes some sense because this year is the 20th anniversary of her death. I’ve been seeing a lot of Audrey stuff lately.

      • EmmaStoneWannabe says:

        Yes that new chocolate commercial with her in it, made to look vintage – absolutely sweet and outstanding. Will make anyone’s heart melt.

    • Irishae says:

      Nothing against Audrey of course, but I’VE HAD ENOUGH. It’s every few months with these VF people now. There are still 6 billion perfectly alive people to put on their covers. It’s always 20, 30, 40, 50 years since someone died. Time happens. I’ve been getting VF for years and I think I might be done. It annoys me that much.

    • pwal says:

      Roman Holiday is my all-time favorite romantic movie. Actually, I bounce between RH and Love and Basketball, but I digress. One of the main reasons why I love Roman Holiday is because it has a ‘right’ ending versus a happy ending, which was William Wyler’s (RH’s director) speciality, especially when it came his films featuring female protagonists.

      Another great Audrey Hepburn movie is Wait Until Dark, which was shot in the late 60s. She plays Susie, a newly blind woman, who is targeted by thugs trying to get their heroin stash back. Very suspenseful.

  10. fabgrrl says:

    Meh. I never got the big deal about her. Cute enough, I suppose. But she just seemed very, very ordinary.

    • bluhare says:

      which was part of her charm. even more so when you read what her life was like in WWII in Belgium where they ate bulbs to survive.

      • Pop! says:

        She also did dance recitals to funds the resistance and helped a parashooter hide from German soldiers in the woods. Even young she was crazy strong and brave. I love Audrey. Charming, beautiful, and classy. My boyfriend lives her and hadn’t even seen many of her movies, we agreed that there aren’t women like her anymore.

      • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

        She worked for years for the Resistance by sneaking notes full of privileged information on the assumption that a little girl is safer than adults from prying eyes. Very dangerous work for anyone, let alone someone who was ten years old and would come to be nearly starved to death when WWII broke out.

  11. Fred says:

    She exuded sweetness and seemed effortlessly poised. I still watch her movies with pleasure.

  12. dorothy says:

    What a nice change of pace after that cover aberration of Taylor Swift. Finally, a true lady in every sense of the word.

  13. mia girl says:

    The sight of Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina Fairchild walking into the Larrabee party wearing the black and white gown is one of my favorite movie moments. I still sigh at the sight of her in that dress every time I watch it.

    One of my favorite movies ever. One of my favorite actresses ever.

    • Amelia says:

      As far as favourite movie moments go, I’d have to go for the scene in My Fair Lady where she yells “MOVE YOUR ARSE!!” at the races. Cue pearl clutching :)

      • LAK says:

        The dress she wears to the embassy ball is my dream wedding dress. i just need to find a husband…..

      • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

        My second favourite moment in that movie. Number one has to go the scene when she’s forcibly bathed by Higgins’ maids off-screen and she starts wailing like a stuck pig.

      • FLORC says:

        Everything I wanted to say has been said. She was just awesome and that neckline was stunning.

        LAK That dress was gorgeous! However, the jewelry really pulled it all together. Having been married for 6 years now and eloped I take every chance to buy a gown and wear it at a party. So you don’t need a wedding. Just get a guy and find a ball!

        I’m also a big fan of eloping.

    • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

      That Givenchy is almost criminally lovely.

  14. Jayna says:

    I am a classic movie buff. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is my all-time favorite movie ever. The way they used Moon River throughout the movie set the mood for the movie. I love Sabrina also.

    Audrey Hepburn rocked. I did read because of the war and how she was raised, she had a bit of an eating disorder in that she monitored her food as far as portions. I don’t know if it’s true or not. She had such a beautiful face. Her lovely, expressive eyes and her distinct voice made a movie. Such class. You just don’t see that nowdays, I guess. Maybe it’s why I love to discover older movies, the elegance women had and strong, leading roles. Not that I have elegance, but I admire it. LOL I recently discovered a lot of great Bette Davis movies. I never realized how sexy she was in her twenties.

    • Miss M says:

      I recently watched her in “War and Peace” and “How to steal a million”. She had such a presence!

    • hazeldazel says:

      Yeah, all that bigotry against Chinese people. It’s a riot.

      • Debbie says:

        Japanese people, actually. And if my (Japanese) husband can separate that terrible characterization from the worth of the rest of the movie, I think it might be possible for anyone.

    • Debbie says:

      I know this isn’t about Audrey Hepburn per se, but … the scene with a young George Peppard waking up with his tousled golden hair to find Holly at his window? Uh, yummy.

  15. lucy2 says:

    I read a biography about her a while back, she was a very interesting woman.
    The new book by her son sounds good too.

  16. Miss M says:

    Audrey and Ingrid Bergman are my favorite actresses (form that time) too.

    But Audrey is number one. My sister used to watch every single movie with her a lot and I always liked her, but never understood the fascination until recent years when I purchased a book about her to a friend of mine. I was sold!

    She was so elegant and refined. She seemed genuinely good and sweet.

  17. marie says:

    she may not have thought so, but she was beautiful. Most of the movies she starred in are among my favorites, My Fair Lady is the only musical I can watch all the way through.

  18. Lisa says:

    She’s so pedestrian. I’m sure she was a nice woman, but I prefer someone with an unaffected personality like Stanwyck.

  19. EmmaStoneWannabe says:

    I like that her looks were underrated. Some people are like whats the big deal about her? That’s the point. She wasn’t showy or self-serving in any capacity. She was talented, gracious, humble, kind and giving. Co stars have been quoted to have said that she was stunning just to be around, her personality took their breath away. That she incredibly humble, and the rare times she spoke her mind, people listened. She really gave a lot to other people. What a treat it must have been to know and work with her. I decided years ago if I ever have a daughter, I’m naming her Audrey.

  20. Lolly says:

    They sure don’t make them like no more. Sigh. My favorite old hollywood actress is Elizabeth Taylor but I’ve always liked Audrey

  21. SamiHami says:

    Ugh. Not beautiful by any stretch and a mediocre actress at best. Never understood the fascination with her.

    • Chicoulina says:

      I totally agree.

    • Adrien says:

      I think people are fascinated by her because she was extraordinarily Beautiful and was a Great actress far from the “twee”, “mumsy” Emma thompson would like us to believe. She had a classic fashion sense and was a humanitarian long before supporting a cause was in fashion in Hollywood. She had an interesting life, more interesting than people perceived and far from perfect too.
      She was the original Manic Pixie Dream Girl back when everything was idealized in Hollywood and being an MPDG does not connote negativity. I can’t think of any actress playing Holly even if Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe originally. I could go on.

  22. JenniferJustice says:

    IMO she was not beautiful – she was lovely and there is a different. There was nothign sexy about her – but she was classy, unique, and extremely feminine. I liken Ann Hathaway to her. Annie, to is very feminine, lovely, classy, and elegant, but she is not sexy. She is not beautiful. They don’t have to be. I like them just the way they are/were.

    • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

      Whoa, whoa, whoa. That’s like comparing Gauguin to Thomas Kinkaid.

    • videli says:

      Hepburn said about herself that she had more sex-appeal on the tip of her nose only, than ten other women combined. And again, beautiful or not, men went nuts about her.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I think lovely and beautiful are very similar. Sexy is a different thing, but I don’t think one needs to be sexy to be beautiful. She was gorgeous, but not overly sexualized, which I find refreshing.

    • Faye says:

      I have to disagree just because someone is sexy doesn’t make them beautiful and someone can be utterly beautiful but lack sex appeal. Audery was beautiful but wasn’t what you would consider sexy. But there are some unconventionally attractive women who have tones of sex appeal.

  23. KellyinSeattle says:

    I have two framed pictures in my room; one of Audrey Hepburn and one of Jackie Kennedy. Both beautiful spirits who transcend culture, time, and class.

    • pwal says:

      I have two Audrey Hepburn posters in my living room – one of her as Holly Golightly, looking through the Tiffany’s window with her danish and coffee and the other from Funny Face when she was standing by the train, holding her dog and tearing up.

  24. Barbara says:

    My oldest son has always admired her, I asked him why once because she was out of the spotlight in his era…Sweet man said, because she looks like you mom… :-) Sweet…

  25. Isabell says:

    Of course Audrey would’ve thought that because she was class. Feminine and humble. She quietly served the poor in Africa & South America up till her death without the cameras or publicity behind her. Just love her.

    • ana says:

      That is not true. She was an ambassador for UNICEF and all her trips were well documented with films and photos, as they should have been. She also talked about her trips often, and represented UNICEF at numerous foundraisers and occasions. She lived before the age of Internet, but she did a lot to publicize causes of the organization. To say that she did it “quietly” is completely wrong.

      • Isabell says:

        Sure there was camera at times. She also testified in DC. As I understand, she actually worked in those countries while raising awareness & money for UNICEF. She wasn’t the drop by for a week, donate some money and disappear after the photos were taken. She dedicated the later part of her life to it. A lot of celebs bring the publicity, have hundreds of photos taken, videos, raise the money, only to move on. She was a child during the German occupation as a result she wanted to help impoverished children. Audrey didn’t seek attention from her humanitarian work, if you look at her pictures (there really isn’t that many) the people are the focus not her.

      • ana says:

        Isabell, you can read about her involvement with UNICEF on their web site – she never worked in the countries, as you say, she went to asses situations for UNICEF and yes, there were always cameras to catch those images (In your opinion that’s bad? I don’t know why!) She was working with them for almost five years (from 1988 to 1993, the year she died)and went on eight missions. From UNICEF site:

        Working for UNICEF, she would provide a very good increase to the fund-raising campaigns of the national UNICEF committees everywhere. The impressive images of Audrey Hepburn in the Third World would leave the rest of the world with the impression that she made dozens of UNICEF pilgrimages, although over four years of her work for the organization, there were just eight missions – but of increasingly profound impact.

      • ana says:

        And yes, she was, contrary to what you said, dropped there for a few days to leave, but that was her purpose – to see and report things. That doesn’t make her involvement any less. It is very easy to read about it and find out the truth. She was very remarkable woman and there is no need to embellish her achievements – they are commendable as they are.

  26. Chicoulina says:

    I never found her beautiful.Yes she’s classy but not beautiful.In my opinion.

  27. Debbie says:

    So weird — I was just watching “Sabrina” last night.

    She was so crazy about William Holden, and it just blazed out of her eyes and her smile in her scenes with him. I think that’s more it that anything — she seemed a genuinely sweet, deeply-feeling person, and she was able to project that out from the screen in a way few others ever have.

  28. Carolyn says:

    Agree with others posting about how much info was hidden by studios in the old days. Grace Kelly wasn’t anything like her pristine ice-queen facade, we all know the huge PR machine that whitewashed the Kennedys (the Camelot myth has been well & truly busted), the myriad of “happily married” couples whose daliances were totally hidden.

    Yes some of these women had style or were styled impeccably and acted in some really good roles. Some of them were nice and admirable women in their private lives. To glorify them to the extent of VF and put them on magazine covers in 2013 with “never before known” details is kind of weird.

    • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:


      Some of these people were off the planet. You think January Jones is bad? Grace Kelly…my God. Her co-workers wives weren’t a fan of hers. After that dust-up with Ray Milland she was forced to be accompanied by a parent. Nuts, huh? Someone asked Judy Garland if GK was a nymphomaniac and got the response that she would be if they calmed her down. I guess karma got her if you consider that scuzzy Rainier took on three mistresses during their honeymoon. Her parents were so obsessed with status that they auctioned her off with a two million dollar dowry to someone she had known for a weeks. They told him that she was a virgin, nevermind the fact that that was carrying Oleg Cassini’s child when she got engaged to Rainier. She was actually Cassini’s fiancee for a while but her parents put the kibosh on that Catholic girls can’t marry a man who was comparatively low-born and divorced. They were all over getting her a secret abortion so the prince wouldn’t dump her.

      Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier…not great parents, if you can even them that. When they ditched their respective spouses they ditched their kids as well. Olivier officially left his wife two weeks before her due date. Vivien had bi-polar and alongside George Cuckor she would travel around, the two of them looking for young men to seduce.

      Do I even have to go into Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine? Freaking psycho! When they were teenagers Olivia jumped on Joan’s chest and broke her clavicle and Joan couldn’t disown her kids quickly enough and for no reason.

      Errol Flynn…ewwwwwwwwww.

      Clarke Gable sired an army of unacknowledged children.

  29. Lisa says:

    She wasn’t affected, she was a true aristocratic, there aren’t lady like that anymore.

  30. Tiffany :) says:

    She had such a gorgeous face, but I looooved the line of her neck. I feel like I have a short little neck, but that line from her back to the back of her head is so graceful!

    I loved that she could be beautiful without being overly sexualized. I feel like society demands women be sexual 24/7 now.

  31. Michael Kelly says:

    I think that Audrey Tatou could go head-to-head with Audrey Hepburn in every category from looks to talent to likability. I would choose Audrey over Natalie Portman as a modern day Hepburn. That is just my opinion and frankly I really like all three of these ladies.

  32. mac says:

    Is it just me or does she look a bit like Rooney Mara on the cover?

  33. ol says:

    more cute then beauty, short chin, anorexia for life..