Why Holden Refused To Give Her a Baby
Daily Express 1st January 1993
AUDREY HEPBURN made a string of films which won her Oscar nominations as Best actress memorably as Truman Capote's heroine Holly Golightly in Breakfast At Tiffany's, The Nun's Story, Wait Until Dark and Billy Wilder's Sabrina.
It was in Sabrina that she became involved with Hollywood's legendary actor, boozer and womaniser William Holden.
Holden died drunk and alone after a fall in his seafront Santa Monica apartment in November, 1981. But he had recalled in a biography his troubled romance with Hepburn.
"We did all kinds of romantic things. Sometimes at night I'd get a portable record player and we'd drive out to the country to a little clearing we'd found. We'd put on ballet music.
"Audrey, who was a wonderful dancer, would dance for me in the moonlight. Some of our most magic moments were there."
Holden was married but he still took Hepburn home to meet his wife, Ardis: "We both felt terribly guilty sitting at the dinner table. We felt sure Ardis knew what was going on. Audrey was 11 years younger than me. She kept asking me to settle down, talking of the babies we could have together. The constant talk of marriage and babies was getting on my nerves, I went out and got a vasectomy — I was half-drunk at the time.
"I did it to shut her up talking about babies. Audrey was shocked. She broke down and cried and our romance crashed. Audrey left me. About a year later, I was at a dinner party with Ardis when Audrey announced her intention of marrying Mel Ferrer.
"I was filled with a jealous rage. I got the studio to send me on a round-the-world promotion tour. Trying to get her out of my system, I made love to dozens of women in many countries. When I came back, I told Audrey about my rampage. She sneered, 'I suppose you were drunk most of the time'. I felt terribly ashamed and had to nod agreement."
But it was his inability to father children rather than his drinking that drove Hepburn into the arms of Mel Ferrer. Hepburn had been entranced by Holden's charm, quiet humour and Golden Boy looks.
They romanced at Paramount Studios — they had next-door caravans — and elsewhere, but finally she decided that after his $75 vasectomy — no babies, no Bill. Earlier, she had broken off an engagement to James Hanson, who later became industrialist Lord Hanson.
Mel Ferrer was 37 and the father of four children when he married the 25-year-old Hepburn in 1954. They had a son Sean, who is now a tall (6ft 3ins) strapping 32, but during the marriage, which ended when she asked for a divorce in 1968, she suffered four miscarriages.
It had always been her dream to have a large family but, like her ballet career, fate intruded.
UNTIL recently, she had never discussed the anguish that her parents' divorce brought to her, but time has softened if not healed the pain: "My parents' divorce was
the first big blow I had as a child. It certainly has stayed with me the rest or my life.
"I worshipped my father and missed him terribly from the day he disappeared. Having my father cut himself off from me when I was only six was desperately awful.
"If I could just have seen him regularly I would have felt he loved me and I would have felt I had a father.
"But as it was I always envied other people's fathers, came home with tears because they had a daddy. I don't feel bitter toward him. What could I do? He has gone now but he lived to be 94."
Mel Ferrer had taken Hepburn to live in Switzerland for privacy and her asthma. "We lived in a fairyland on top of a mountain," recalls the actor-director. "We stayed 10 years. After the divorce, I didn't really hear from her. It seems a long time ago now. It's all terribly upsetting."
On screen, Hepburn enjoyed another kind of "marriage" — this time with the grandpappy of couture, Hubert de Givenchy. Audrey and Hubert were introduced on the set of Sabrina. A bond was struck and they created a liaison that was to last a lifetime.
"With her broad shoulders and boyish hips, Audrey could wear anything," Givenchy is on record as saying. "Whenever a film required some contemporary costumes, Audrey called me." Together, the two created the
famine look that became Hepburn's signature, featured in Funny Face, Breakfast At Tiffany's, Charade, and How To Steal A Million.
The admiration is mutual, as Hepburn has explained: "Ours is a love that has lasted 40 years, and will last for ever ... it's a love that has to do with the eyes and heart, with respect and admiration. It's friendship in its purest form."
When Hepburn split from Ferrer, she was making Two For The Road with a young British actor, Albert Finney. You can see the attraction. The film's storyline involved them in an unexpected romance — and the gossip columns mirrored that.
Hepburn was a serious star. There had been the hoo-ha over her being chosen to play Eliza Doolittle over Julie Andrews in My Fair Lady, the success of the spine-tingling chiller Wait Until Dark, the divorce and now the romances.
This was paparazzi heaven — like Fergie and Di by the same swimming pool with business advisers. Hepburn was on the town with Spanish bullfighter Antonio Ordonez, Prince Alfonso de Bourbon and Prince Marino Torionia.
But it was Dr Andrea Dotti — an Italian psychiatrist — who was her most persistent suitor. He was nine years younger, they met on a Mediterranean cruise and married in February 1969. They had a son, Lucca, now 22, but sadly she also suffered another miscarriage during the marriage which ended in divorce in 1980.
SHE had wanted it all to be like a Hollywood fairy-tale but instead it unreeled like real life. She had left films for her family but returned to work in 1976 to co-star with Sean Connery in Robin And Marian in which the hero of Sherwood Forest and the love of his life came to terms with the passing of the years. Connery adored her. "A class act," he says.
But the rumours said that she had returned to work because her marriage to Dr Dotti was in trouble. She denied it then saying: "My responsibilities are to my family first. That's why, if I have to make a choice, acting loses out. I've had to cope with rumours all my life." This one turned out to be true. "Of course children suffer from divorces. I remember talking to Sean when Mel and I were divorced. Children think, 'Perhaps he didn't love* me very much, my father, if he could go away'. That's the way I felt when my father left. So, you become very insecure about affection and terribly grateful for it," she said.
"You have enormous desire to give it and receive it. Having miscarriages is heart-rending, but so is divorce. It's probably one of the worst experiences a human being can go through. I tried desperately to avoid it for my two sons' sake but I just couldn't. Could not manage that.
"1 hung on to both marriages very hard, as long as I could, /or the childrens' sake
and out of respect /or
"You always hope that if you love somebody enough everything will be all right — but it isn't always so.
"I always wanted lots of babies — that's been a conducting theme in my life. Even when I was little what I wanted most in the world was to have a child.
"That was always the real me. The movies were fairy-tales. I've never changed. A princess or a flower girl were all parts of me and I was parts of them."
Robert Wolders was the widower of another legendary star, Merle Oberon, when he met Audrey Hepburn at a dinner party in 1980.
"I was charmed with him that night, but he didn't register that much. We were both very unhappy. He was getting over the death of Merle, whom I loved very much, and my divorce. It was the worst period of my life, one of the low ebbs. We both cried into our beers."
She has been with Rob Wolders ever since. They have never married: "We have no need to be married. It wouldn't contribute anything to what we already have." She has lived with a man ever since her marriage to Mel Ferrer. Is she an expert on men? What does she know about them?
"Nothing. What can one learn about them, They're human beings with all the frailties that women have — perhaps they're more vulnerable than women. You can hurt a man so easily ..."
HER dozen years with Rob Wolders, who today is by her bedside in Switzerland, she says have been happy but she added: "It has not been Romeo and Juliet. We've had our tiffs, but very few.
"We're both patient, no huge tempers. It's a wonderful friendship. He is solid in every way. I can trust him. I trust his love. I never feel I am losing it. He's a very affectionate and Loving man and! we like the same life — being in the country, the dogs, making trips together and we're both avid readers.
"The age difference doesn't matter because he doesn't mind. If he somehow made me feel insecure because I'm eight years older then I'd feel it. He doesn't.
"I'm a romantic woman -what is there without it? Life becomes just so grey. I did not think I would have such serenity which is. very hard to come by."
In later life, she found her own serenity in helping the children of the world as the United Nations' Goodwill Ambassador. As a champion for UNICEF — along with Roger Moore, Sophia Loren and Gregory Peck — she has seen the suffering first hand.
She also got her dearest wish when the American Marines took aid into Somalia.
For the past five years she has toured the Third World, Bangladesh, Thailand, Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador, Sudan, Honduras, Venezuela, and it made her cry a lot and work even harder.
"The human obligation is to help children who are suffering. The rest is luxury. When you see what goes on in the world it makes the rest trivial.
"I'm very grateful for what God has given me."
In 1953, 40 years ago, she became a star playing a princess in what she regarded as just another Hollywood fairy-tale. All these years later she's still a princess.
This time in real life.
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