The dramatic love life of Audrey Hepburn

The dramatic love life of Audrey Hepburn

For most of her career, the iconic, doe-eyed Audrey Hepburn was positioned as the antithesis of Marilyn Monroe. Despite this, the Belgian-born actress had just as tumultuous a love life as the bombshell. Hepburn had tied the knot twice times in her life, and was engaged three times.

Each wedding featured a stunning gown that has inspired many brides, including Megan Markle. We take a look at the Breakfast at Tiffany’s star’s love life that was just as dramatic as the characters she portrayed onscreen.

1952: James Hanson

A pre-fame Hepburn was engaged to British wealthy businessman Lord James Hanson while filming her breakout first major motion picture, Roman Holiday, for which she would later win an Oscar. However, the budding Hollywood star had her reservations, and ended up calling off the wedding. In later years, Hepburn explained that their busy work schedules were to blame.

“My schedule commits me to a movie here, then back to the stage, then back to Hollywood. [James] would be spending most of his time taking care of business in England and Canada. It would be very difficult for us to lead a normal married life,” she said in an interview.

Her mid-length, boatneck silk dress designed by the Rome-based Fontana sisters had already been made at the time the wedding was called off, so Hepburn had the designers donate the gown to a bride in need.

 “I want my dress to be worn by another girl for her wedding, perhaps someone who couldn’t ever afford a dress like mine, the most beautiful, poor Italian girl you can find,” she had told them. Amiable Altobella from Borgo Carso in the Province of Latina won a radio contest and became the lucky bride to wear this iconic gown to her own farm wedding.

In 2009, the dress sold at an auction for $23,000.

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1954: Mel Ferrer

Hepburn met her future first husband, actor, stage and film director Mel Ferrer at a party a year after her first engagement ended. Fellow actor and Roman Holiday star Gregory Peck introduced them to one another.

The twice divorced father of four was 12 years Hepburn’s senior, but that did not phase the couple.

For their big day, Hepburn stunned in a Balmain tea-length flared dress with a satin sash, a high neckline and balloon sleeves  that she accessorised with elbow-length gloves. The pair married in Burgenstock, Switzerland in an intimate ceremony on September 25, 1954.

Their marriage, however, was not the stuff of fairytales. Hepburn struggled to carry a child and reportedly suffered four miscarriages throughout the marriage. The pair were also plagued by infidelity rumours, as both were said to have had affairs. Hepburn had a much publicised love affair with Sabrina co-star William Holden, who at the time was also married. In later years, Holden called Hepburn the love of his life, and tried to win her back after she married her second husband.

In 1960, Hepburn gave birth to her first son, Sean Ferrer. The couple divorced in 1968 after 14 years of marriage.

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1969: Andrea Dotti

Heburn met and fell in love with Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti in 1968 while on a meditteranean cruise. The air married in 1969 at a town hall in Switzerland. Hepburn wore a pink woolen Givenchy minidress featuring long-sleeves and a funnel neck. She accessorised with white tights, white gloves, a woolen headscarf and ballet flats.

At the age of 39, Hepburn gave birth again, this time to second son Luca Dotti. She then took a break from Hollywood to focus on her family. However, she did not have an easy time. she would go on to have another miscarriage after her second son’s birth. Both Hepburn and Dotti reportedly had affairs throughout their marriage. Hepburn is said to have had an affair with Bloodline co-star Ben Gazzara, while Dotti garnered much publicity for his affairs with young women. The couple divorced in 1982 after 14 years of marriage.

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Robert Wolders
Hepburn’s final love was Dutch actor Robert Wolders, who she met at a party in 1980. While she never married Wolders, Hepburn said in an interview with Barbara Walters that her time with him marked the happiest years of her life. Her relationship with Wolders continued until her death in 1993. On why they never married, Wolders explained it never felt necessary.

“I felt she had two unhappy marriages, it was wonderful the way it was,” he said in an interview with People magazine. “When Audrey would be asked, she’d also say, ‘Why mess with a good thing?’ I remember her saying to one interviewer it’s more romantic this way because it’s not another piece of paper, but out of loyalty to each other that binds us together. Had we been younger and wanted to have children, it might have been different, but that’s just not the case.”

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