Career Profile: Audrey Hepburn

Ingenue, gamine, elfin - words which seem like they were invented just to describe Audrey Hepburn. A defining figure of Hollywood movies and style, her deft comic touch and radiant beauty spellbound many an audience throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s, until her death from colon cancer in Switzerland in 1993.

Born Edda van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston in Brussels in 1929, to a Dutch baroness and English banker, she grew up in England, only to move to Holland when her parents split up. She had her first taste of performing when the Nazis invaded, featuring in underground revues to rally support for the Dutch resistance.

In 1948, she changed her name to Audrey Hepburn and travelled once again to England to study ballet. However, her break of a lifetime came in 1951, when the author of "Gigi" became the first to spot her star quality and chose her to star in the play on Broadway.

Stardom beckoned - and became a reality after she appeared in the romantic comedy "Roman Holiday" (1953). The classic movie earned her an Oscar and paraded what ended up her trademark traits: a flirty, yet not overwhelming sensuality; sly wit and dazzling sense of style. Indeed, she defined an era of clothes and fashion in Tinseltown - off-setting the big-haired, sirenesque Monroe and beginning the trend for the "waif" look, with short hair and little make-up.

She didn't make a lot of films, her quiet, affectionate demeanour instead often concentrating itself on charitable causes. Those she chose to participate in however, remain classics. Holly Golightly in "Breakfast At Tiffany's" (1961), opposite Cary Grant in the mystery "Charade" (1963), and of course Eliza Doolittle in "My Fair Lady" (1964) - a role she snaffled from under the nose of Julie Andrews and for which she famously did not sing a note.

Married and divorced twice, she moved to Switzerland in 1964, returning to Hollywood occasionally to star in movies like "Wait Until Dark" (1967), which secured her a fifth Oscar nomination. Worthy reward for a true star.