It was twenty years ago today, on 20 January 1992, that Audrey Hepburn died from abdominal cancer. The date is significant to me not simply because Audrey Hepburn is one of the great icons of film. It is not even simply because she is one of my favourite actresses. Quite simply, it is significant to me because Audrey Hepburn was my first classic film crush.
It all began when I was around 8 years old. My Fair Lady was on television that night. Being a typical lad of my generation and thinking that musicals were for girls, I did not particularly want to watch it. Fortunately for me, outside of Westerns, musicals were my father's favourite film genre, although I did not realise it at the time. My father convinced me that I should give My Fair Lady a chance, as I might like it. In the end, watching My Fair Lady would have two results. First, it convinced me that musicals are not just for girls and I have enjoyed the genre ever since. Second, I fell hopelessly and irrevocably in love with Audrey Hepburn. It is something from which I have never quite recovered.
In those days when we had neither cable television (we lived on a farm, where the cable companies did not reach) nor a VCR, it would be some time before I would see Breakfast at Tiffany's. When I did, however, my infatuation with Audrey would only grow deeper. This process would repeat itself when I saw Sabrina, Romany Holiday, Funny Face, and her other movies. While many boyhood crushes fade with time, I cannot say that my infatuation with Audrey Hepburn had ever quite done so. As an adult I actively sought out those movies starring Miss Hepburn that I had not seen. While I have not seen all of Audrey Hepburn's movies, I must say that I have seen most of them. And I own a good number of them on DVD.
Of course, Audrey Hepburn would not maintain a monopoly on my heart. Over time I would develop other classic film crushes, most notably one on Vivien Leigh the first time I saw Gone With the Wind (that crush also has never faded). But Audrey Hepburn has always maintained a special place in my heart as the first classic movie star on whom I ever had a crush. On 20 January 1992, then, I not only mourned the passing of a great actress, but also one of my first loves. When Audrey Hepburn died, part of my childhood went with her.