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Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburnby Donald Spoto
Synopses & Reviews
Her name is synonymous with elegance, style and grace. Over the course of her extraordinary life and career, Audrey Hepburn captured hearts around the world and created a public image that stands as one of the most recognizable and beloved in recent memory. But despite her international fame and her tireless efforts on behalf of UNICEF, Audrey was also known for her intense privacy. With unprecedented access to studio archives, friends and colleagues who knew and loved Audrey, bestselling author Donald Spoto provides an intimate and moving account of this beautiful, elusive and talented woman.
Tracing her astonishing rise to stardom, from her harrowing childhood in Nazi-controlled Holland during World War II to her years as a struggling ballet dancer in London and her Tony Award–winning Broadway debut in Gigi, Spoto illuminates the origins of Audrey’s tenacious spirit and fiercely passionate nature.
She would go on to star in some of the most popular movies of the twentieth century, including Roman Holiday, Sabrina, Funny Face, The Nun’s Story, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and My Fair Lady. A friend and inspiration to renowned designer Hubert de Givenchy, Audrey emerged as a fashion icon as well as a film legend, her influence on women’s fashion virtually unparalleled to this day.
But behind the glamorous public persona, Audrey Hepburn was both a different and a deeper person and a woman who craved love and affection. Donald Spoto offers remarkable insights into her professional and personal relationships with her two husbands, and with celebrities such as Gregory Peck, William Holden, Fred Astaire, Gary Cooper, Robert Anderson, Cary Grant, Peter O’Toole, Albert Finney and Ben Gazzara. The turbulent romances of her youth, her profound sympathy for the plight of hungry children, and the thrills and terrors of motherhood prepared Audrey for the final chapter in her life, as she devoted herself entirely to the charity efforts of an organization that had once come to her rescue at the end of the war: UNICEF.
Donald Spoto has written a poignant, funny and deeply moving biography of an unforgettable woman. At last, Enchantment reveals the private Audrey Hepburn—and invites readers to fall in love with her all over again.
“She was as funny as she was beautiful. She was a magical combination of high chic and high spirits.” —Gregory Peck
“In spite of her fragile appearance, she’s like steel.” —Cary Grant
“Audrey was known for something which has disappeared, and that is elegance, grace and manners . . . God kissed her on the cheek, and there she was.” —Billy Wilder
“There is not a woman alive who does not dream of looking like Audrey Hepburn.” —Hubert de Givenchy
“Her magnetism was so extraordinary that everyone wanted to be close to her. It was as if she placed a glass barrier between herself and the world. You couldn’t get behind it easily. It made her remarkably attractive.” —Stanley Donen
“She has authentic charm. Most people simply have nice manners.” —Alfred Lunt
"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 navely 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.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The bouts of depression and the chain-smoking are covered, but Spoto clearly reveres Hepburn, ultimately rendering her a symbol of superhuman goodness." Kirkus Reviews
With unprecedented access to studio archives, friends, and colleagues who knew and loved Audrey Hepburn, bestselling author Donald Spoto provides an intimate and moving account of this beautiful, elusive, and talented woman. 16-page photo insert.
About the Author
Donald Spoto received his Ph.D. from Fordham University. He is the author of twenty-one books, including internationally bestselling biographies of Alfred Hitchcock, Tennessee Williams, Marlene Dietrich, Laurence Olivier, Marilyn Monroe and Ingrid Bergman. He is married to the Danish school administrator and artist Ole Flemming Larsen; they live in a quiet village, an hour’s drive from Copenhagen.
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