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Delving into the Love Life of Hollywood Icon: Audrey Hepburn’s Two Husbands, Fiance, Lovers and Family

Dive deep into the life of Audrey Hepburn, exploring her numerous relationships, two marriages, the legacy she left behind through her children, and her commendable career highs. Join us as we unfold poignant chapters in the life of this remarkable Hollywood legend.
by Rob Gillham | Dec 7 2023
Credits: Wikipedia

Audrey Hepburn, a timeless emblem of elegance, captured hearts with her roles in classic films like Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Roman Holiday. Beyond her illustrious career, Hepburn’s personal life, especially her role as a wife and mother, equally piques intrigue.

This article delves into various aspects of her personal life, exploring her romantic relationships, her children, intriguing details, and the profound quotes that represent the persona of Audrey Hepburn. 

James Hanson: Audrey Heburn’s One-Time Fiance 

Audrey Hepburn’s first serious relationship began during the production of her debut major motion picture, Roman Holiday. Hepburn juggled between shooting scenes with the renowned Gregory Peck and organizing her impending wedding to the affluent British businessman James Hanson.

As a prospective lord, Hanson was exhilarated about tying the knot with the budding Hollywood sensation. However, despite participating in numerous fittings with designer Zoe Fontana for her exquisite ivory satin wedding gown, accentuating her petite waist and boasting an elegant boat-neck front, Hepburn’s uncertainties about the marriage led her to cancel the wedding.

Audrey Hepburn’s First Husband: Mel Ferrer

Audrey Hepburn tied the knot twice in her lifetime. Her first marriage was to the American actor Mel Ferrer in 1954.

The seed of their romance was sown during the Broadway production of Ondine in 1954, where their on-stage chemistry overflowed into real life. Her love for Ferrer deepened as Hepburn’s fame skyrocketed, with a Tony nomination and an Academy Award for Roman Holiday.

By the end of the year, Hepburn resulted in marrying him in an intimate ceremony in Switzerland, away from the public limelight.

While Hepburn’s career flourished, her personal life encountered some turbulence. Eager to start a family, Hepburn fell pregnant but suffered a miscarriage in 1955 – a tragedy she sadly faced multiple times in the coming years.

However, amidst the sorrow, there was a ray of happiness when Hepburn and Ferrer welcomed their first and only child, Sean Hepburn Ferrer, in 1960.

From the outside, Hepburn and Ferrer were Hollywood’s golden couple, but their marriage was fraught with complications. They announced their divorce in 1968, marking the end of Hepburn’s fourteen-year-long love saga. 

Hepburn’s Secret Love Affair With Her Co-Star William Holden

1954 was a significant year in Audrey Hepburn’s life. Not only did she get married to Mel Ferrer and receive two prestigious awards, but she also delivered a standout performance in Billy Wilder’s film, Sabrina, starring alongside fellow screen icons Humphrey Bogart and William Holden.

Hepburn’s portrayal earned her another nomination for the esteemed Academy Award.

However, it wasn’t just her cinematic prowess making headlines that year. A passionate off-screen romance was also brewing between Hepburn and her co-star Holden during the production of Sabrina.

Hepburn and Holden, despite the latter being eleven years her senior and married with three children, succumbed to a secret Hollywood affair fuelled by an intense, mutual attraction.

Author Edward Z. Epstein, in his 2015 biography, ‘Audrey and Bill,’ conveys Hepburn’s affection for her co-star, describing Holden as “the most handsome man she’d ever met.” Yet, although Hepburn was deeply infatuated with Holden, she was equally passionate regarding her desires for marriage and children.

A devastating revelation marked the demise of their romance when Hepburn discovered Holden had undergone a vasectomy, shattering her dreams of sharing a family with him. Consequently, Hepburn felt compelled to end their relationship.

Eight years later, in the summer of 1962, the former lovers were reunited professionally, starring in the film Paris When it Sizzles. Daily Mail recounts Holden’s poignant reflection on his arrival in Paris for the movie shoot, revealing his apprehensions about facing both his relationship with Hepburn and his personal struggles with alcohol.

The iconic actor, haunted by his past, tried to rekindle his romance with Hepburn. However, she was satisfied with her existing marriage to Ferrer.

After an eventful life, Holden passed away in 1981 at 63. Ironically, Hepburn also lived to the same age, leaving the world in 1993.

A New Romance During War And Peace: Robert Anderson

Hepburn rose to fame after landing a role in Fred Zinnemann’s The Nun’s Story not long after sharing screen space with her Mel Ferrer in War and Peace. As she devoted herself to the project, she developed an intimate bond with Robert Anderson, the film’s scriptwriter.

Speculation was abuzz about an alleged romantic liaison between the two. According to the author of Audrey and Bill, Edward Epstein, rumors were circulating about Ferrer’s extramarital relationships.

Hepburn got wind of these speculations, leading her to question her own marriage. It’s believed that such rumors might have significantly swayed Hepburn’s decision to start an affair with Anderson.

Amid the rife gossip about Ferrer’s unfaithfulness, she allegedly found solace in the affections of Anderson, leading to their rumored secret affair.

Finding Love Again: Hepburn’s Marriage To Andrea Dotti 

Following her separation, Audrey Hepburn opened a new chapter by marrying the Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti in 1969. After shifting their residence to Rome, Italy, the couple shared the joyful news of expecting a baby just six months into their marriage.

In February 1970, they welcomed a son, Luca Dotti, into the world. However, their marital journey did not prove to be smooth sailing.

Over their 12-year union, Hepburn and Dotti weathered numerous matrimonial storms. Apart from another painful miscarriage, there were persistent speculations about Dotti’s alleged infidelities with younger women, according to Harper’s Bazaar.

As a result, the couple concluded their marriage in 1982 after enduring more than a decade of turbulence.

Robert Wolders: Audrey Hepburn’s Last Great Love

Audrey Heburn’s last great love came during her marriage to Dotti. In 1980, Audrey Hepburn met Robert Wolders, a widowed Dutch businessman and television actor, courtesy of a mutual friend. 

Despite Hepburn’s marital status, Wolders gathered the courage to invite her out on their first encounter, only to be informed of her unavailability due to a night shoot. This was amidst her ongoing marriage to Andrea Dotti.

When Hepburn’s relationship with Wolders started to take a serious turn, her marriage with Dotti had already deteriorated entirely. However, Hepburn sought to cushion the impact of her new love on Dotti and Luca, cautiously nurturing them to accept her new relationship.

Upon learning about Hepburn’s newfound love, Dotti reacted positively, reassuring Hepburn with kind words and acknowledging her radiance. This marked the commencement of over a decade of unwedded bliss for Hepburn and Wolders as they navigated through career challenges and romantic milestones.

Despite never formalizing their union with marriage, Hepburn and Wolders perceived themselves as a marital couple, with Hepburn frequently introducing him as “my husband, Rob.” Their love story lasted until Hepburn’s premature demise in 1993 due to a rare form of abdominal cancer.

Following her death at home on January 20, 1993, at the age of 63, an emotional funeral service four days later commemorated the Hollywood star’s remarkable life.

Audrey Hepburn’s Sons, the Fruit of Her Love

Audrey Hepburn’s eldest son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer, has had a career that spans several aspects of the film industry, though he is currently focused on philanthropy. This commitment is particularly channeled through the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund and the Audrey Hepburn Society of UNICEF, demonstrating his dedication to continuing his mother’s humanitarian legacy.

These organizations aim to provide education, health services, and emergency relief to children in need worldwide. Meanwhile, Hepburn’s younger son, Luca Dotti, who originally trained as a graphic designer, now works to manage his mother’s image and safeguard her legacy.

He has even turned to writing to share personal stories about his mother. His book, “Audrey at Home: Memories of My Mother’s Kitchen,” dives into anecdotes and recipes that show his mother’s passion for cooking and life at home.

Luca and his brother jointly manage their mother’s estate and were closely involved in the creation and premiere of the recent Audrey Hepburn exhibition in 2021. Audrey Hepburn’s life was as fascinating as the roles she immortalized on screen.

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