Since I was a kid I’ve loved Audrey Hepburn. My father showed us her movies when my sisters and I were just kids, so I grew up watching Sabrina and My Fair Lady and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, as well as my other favorites like Charade and How To Steal A Million (great great movie). Audrey Hepburn was my idol when I was a kid: I loved her accent and her short bangs, and especially her style and elegance. I wanted to be her.
Contrarily, my love for Marilyn Monroe was a slow burn. I never knew much about her and always believed the misconceptions about her: that she was dumb and not a good actress, that she was suicidal. Maybe it’s impossible to know her for real but I gained new perspective and cherished a new love for Marilyn Monroe when I read a biography by Daniel Spoto. I learned about her insecurity and vulnerability, about her determination and her natural flair for comedy, and most importantly, her intelligence. I also sort of grew to hate Arthur Miller (but that’s a different story).
These two women are infinitely interesting because of the influence they have had and continue to have on our culture, but I admire them for personal reasons. I admire them because they were wise and intelligent, because they challenged norms and forged their own paths. Marilyn was instrumental in destroying the studio system that contracted Hollywood actors in the 40s and 50s. She was brave and stronger than people believe, and she was a loving person that others constantly took advantage of. Audrey became a philanthropist after her film career and became an ambassador for UNICEF. She also founded a foundation now called the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund.
Also–they both read. A lot. Marilyn was obsessed with Walt Whitman and she grew to love Arthur Miller from afar from reading his plays. Audrey was a self-proclaimed bookworm who translated her love for stories to a love of film. Also, and I mean this goes without saying, these women were fashion goddesses. Givenchy may as well have been named Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe’s signature look is still copied the world over. I look up to these women a lot.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from both of them:
“If I’m honest I have to tell you I still read fairy-tales and I like them best of all.”
“The most important thing is to enjoy your life—to be happy—it’s all that matters.”
“I don’t want to be alone, I want to be left alone.”
“Let’s face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people; it does for me.”
“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul.”
– Audrey Hepburn
“I am good, but not an angel. I do sin, but I am not the devil. I am just a small girl in a big world trying to find someone to love.”
“It’s better to be unhappy alone than unhappy with someone.”
“Boys think girls are like books, if the cover doesn’t catch their eye they won’t bother to read what’s inside.”
“I read poetry to save time.”
“Here is [James] Joyce writing what a woman thinks to herself. Can he, does he really know her innermost thoughts? But after I read the whole book, I could better understand that Joyce is an artist who could penetrate the souls of people, male or female. It really doesn’t matter that Joyce doesn’t have… or never felt a menstrual cramp.”
– Marilyn Monroe