Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn

Donald Spoto, Author
Donald Spoto, Author . Harmony $25.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-307-23758-3
Reviewed on: 07/17/2006
Release date: 09/01/2006

Celebrity biographer Spoto (The Art of Alfred Hitchcock ) offers a sparkling, fawning life of the European gamine whom America took to instantly with her 1953 debut in Roman Holiday . Hepburn (1929–1993) held the irresistible charm of a childlike star naïvely unaware of her appeal, from her first big break at age 22 when selected by Colette herself to play the Broadway version of Gigi. Born to a Dutch baroness and an English ne'er-do-well (and fascist sympathizer) who separated when she was six, Hepburn and her mother underwent horrendous deprivations during the Nazi occupation of Holland during WWII; her early ambition to become a ballet dancer was undermined by inadequate nutrition and training. Her early film successes flowed astonishingly, however, from Sabrina , Funny Face , Love in the Afternoon , Breakfast at Tiffany's and My Fair Lady to attempts at roles with more gravitas, as in The Nun's Story and Wait Until Dark . Often paired with older, avuncular leads, Hepburn was viewed as unerotic, yet Spoto tracks her steamy relationships with playboys and co-stars, and marriage to American actor-director Mel Ferrer, who often acted as her Pygmalion. Her later work with UNICEF is sketched too briefly. Spoto's previous Hollywood biographies allow the author authoritative access to Hepburn. (Sept.)

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