{great love stories № 06 | audrey hepburn & robert wolders}

by joey bailey for {this is glamorous} | editing & image compilation by roséline | view previous articles


Companion : /kəmˈpanjən/ one that is closely connected with another

A waifish figure and large, brown, doe-like eyes; a tiny, cinched in waist and sweet, elfin features; a willowy dancer's body, slight but strong from years of ballet training—always graceful and ever ladylike—it is difficult to believe that this beautiful woman, both inside and out, would wait almost her entire life to find true love but—when she did find it, it was truly great . . .


Audrey had previously been married twice, both relationships formed over a common interest. Her third and greatest love, Robert Wolders, began no differently—both had experienced tragedy in their life, and both wanted to help people. They had both acted and both decided they preferred the simpler life.

Above: Audrey in her dressing room during the filming of Sabrina, 1954; her famous embellished flats are sitting on the chair on the right. Photographed by Mark Shaw.


First meeting in 1980 at a dinner party held by a mutual friend, Robert (or Robbie as Audrey so fondly called him) was suffering after the recent death of his wife, and Audrey, by her own account, was ‘not in a happy place’. They immediately bonded, and realised remarkably, how much they had in common. They stayed in close contact after that night and finally, six months later, announced to the media they were an ‘item’.


"We met at a time when we each had gone through trials, but we knew exactly what we wanted—togetherness."

— Robert Wolders


"Whether Audrey was in jeans and a bandana or all dolled up for the Oscars—she was so beautiful that you couldn't bear it."

— André Previn


March 21, 1956: (L-R) Award presenters Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly waiting backstage at the RKO Pantages Theatre, during the 28th Annual Academy Awards. Photographed by Allan Grant for LIFE magazine.

La Paisible, "the place of peace", the home where Audrey spent the last 30 years of her life


Moving to Audrey’s estate, La Paisible, in Tolochenaz, Switzerland [a remote village in the foothills of the Alps], the pair lived a somewhat quiet & simple life -- raising Audrey’s youngest son Luca, tending to the large gardens on the estate, and eventually, as Luca grew older, dedicating much of their time to UNICEF. Robert described their routine as: rising at 7:30am to a piece of toast spread with Audrey’s homemade jam, until noon working in the dining room on UNICEF matters -- lunch consisted of greens from their own vegetable garden, a slice of gruyere & crusty bread -- then in the afternoon, a nap and a brisk walk through the vineyards across the street.

Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn rehearsing for Funny Face (1957). Photographed by Richard Avedon.


"If I'm honest I have to tell you I still read fairy-tales and I like them best of all."

At La Paisible, her home in Switzerland, Hepburn photographed with her son Luca Dotti

"The best thing to hold onto in life is each other." —
Audrey Hepburn

Roman Holiday, 1953


Their life was peaceful, uncomplicated, and most importantly, they felt ‘safe and hidden from the world’-- which, considering a life previously hounded by the media and paparazzi, was beyond perfect for Audrey.


Above & below: Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1961


With George Peppard, kiss in the rain in the final scene of Breakfast At Tiffany’s, 1961


Despite their now trouble-free and intensely private life, the media still often speculated over the possibility of the two marrying. In 1989, in an interview with Barbara Walters, Audrey described the nine years she had spent with Robbie as the happiest years of her life, before exclaiming “Took me long enough!’ Walters then proceeded to ask why they never married, to which Audrey coyly replied “We are married, just not formally”.

Photographed by Bob Willoughby


In 1987, Audrey’s two sons had both moved away from home, and Audrey was officially appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. Robbie accompanied Audrey on all of her UNICEF missions, and often documented the trips by taking numerous photographs of Audrey working tirelessly on the field trips. With most of their years spent assiduously working for children’s rights the pair slowly began to tire -- Audrey’s eldest son, Sean recalls how Audrey would half-heartedly vow to cut back on UNICEF then say, "but I’ve just got to do this one trip".

In the famous blue silk cloak, back of a taxi with Fred Astaire, Funny Face, 1957


In September 1992, after returning from relief work in Somalia, Audrey felt awful and believed she had contracted a stomach-bug. After a few days, the pain had become so intense, that Robbie rushed her to the hospital for testing . . . The results were bleak -- the doctors had discovered cancer of the appendix, which had spread through Audrey’s abdominal area. Doctors immediately performed surgery, however, even after, announced she had little time left.

"I believe in manicures. I believe in overdressing. I believe in primping at leisure and wearing lipstick. I believe in pink. I believe happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day, and... I believe in miracles."

Photographed by Mark Shaw

Audrey’s only desire was to return to La Paisible for her last few weeks, but she was too weak to fly on a commercial aircraft -- instead, Robbie arranged with Audrey’s dear friend, designer Hubert De Givenchy, to borrow his private jet to transport her home. The entire jet was filled with fresh flowers, and Robbie stayed by Audrey’s side the entire flight home.

At Le Paisible, white wicker filled the master bedroom & fresh sprig blue Porthault linens covered the bed

"As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others." —Audrey Hepburn

The next few weeks were spent exactly as Audrey wanted -- with her beloved Robbie and two sons by her side, short walks in her garden, and a traditional family Christmas. Robbie & Audrey talked, contemplated life and love, and came to terms with their future.

The library at La Paisible took its colors from the painting of watermelon slices by Rufino Tamayo over the pink sofa; a modern Parsons table and desk are paired with a Spanish rug in pinks, woven stools and a Windsor chair.


Audrey died on the 20th of January 1993, quietly in her sleep -- and Robbie, despite knowing it was inevitable, was heartbroken.


Funny Face, 1957


Shortly after her death, Audrey’s friend and co-star, Gregory Peck recited Audrey’s favourite poem, which she herself had recited to Robbie many times before:

I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.

Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, it's age-old pain,
It's ancient tale of being apart or together.
As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,
Clad in the light of a pole-star piercing the darkness of time:
You become an image of what is remembered forever.

You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount.
At the heart of time, love of one for another.
We have played along side millions of lovers, shared in the same
Shy sweetness of meeting, the same distressful tears of farewell-
Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.

Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you

The love of all man’s days both past and forever:
Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life.
The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours –
And the songs of every poet past and forever.

Unending Love by Rabindranath Tagore


The love story between Audrey Hepburn & Robert Wolders was not filled with grand gestures and showy displays of affection -- it was a companionship between two people who had experienced tragedy and heartache, and realised the most simple things in life are the most important. Their great love story was built on friendship, a gentle passion, and a deep appreciation of love in its purest form.





* great love stories № 01 : grace kelly & prince rainer III of monaco
* great love stories № 02 : nacho figueras & delfina blaquier
* great love stories № 03 : shah jahan & mumtaz mahal
* great love stories № 04 : elizabeth taylor & richard burton
* great love stories № 05 : prince william & kate middleton



[image sources & credits : all posters via audrey /// marta ibarrondo /// image & text, all about audrey /// bio ///webring /// in love♥ with audrey hepburn /// in love♥ with audrey hepburn /// s'marvelous audrey /// moon river // audrey /// kingdom by the sea /// image & text, all about audrey /// emma tina illustration /// little augury /// elegant hepburn /// audrey /// sofeminine.co.uk /// audrey /// little augury /// journey through life /// moon river /// gif /// audrey /// audrey /// teenage wasteland /// audrey /// all about audrey /// audrey /// audrey /// lexicon-foto.euweb /// doctor macro /// penny dreadful vintage /// audrey /// audrey /// give him heart and soul /// little augury /// little augury /// yellow sofa /// adoring audrey /// chrysa serdari /// caitlin joan /// idul basut /// lauri haddock /// gina howse /// anli wang /// advantage bridal /// Stage 16, Warner Bros Burbank Studios, California, 1964: Audrey is dressed as Eliza on the ballroom set of My Fair Lady for the Embassy Ball, the shadows of aristocrats marking the wall behind her. via all about audrey]


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Anonymous High Style said...

Great post, I love it so much! ;)

May 05, 2012  
Blogger Kate said...

I saw Audrey Hepburn's name in the title of this post, and was immediately intrigued! I love this beautiful love story, the images are just lovely. Such a romantic way to end a Saturday afternoon! x

Kate {Something Fabulous}

May 05, 2012  
Blogger CINCHED AT THE WAIST said...

always perfectly cinched, ahhh i can't ever get enough inspiration from aubrey's style

great images,

May 05, 2012  
Blogger lorenabr said...

Your post is lovely and the images wonderful! She aged beautifully :)

Have a great Sunday!

May 05, 2012  
Anonymous Forever Favelle said...

Lovely post. A great tribute to a wonderful woman. Thankyou :)

May 05, 2012  
Blogger shararehali said...

ooooh your writing is very good! giving emotions to rise...

May 05, 2012  
Blogger Sin Yee said...

This was beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.

May 05, 2012  
Blogger Julie Strieter said...

She is one of my absolute favorite people. Fabulous post!


May 05, 2012  
Blogger whereORwhat said...

Hello! I just came across your wonderful blog and was wondering if we could follow each other?
whereORwhat.blogspot:Ilustrations, design and creativity.


May 05, 2012  
Blogger Sarah said...

Such a lovely post, she is so eternally beautiful and such a style icon. Thank you putting together such a lovely post xx

May 05, 2012  
Blogger Supal said...

This was a beautiful post! The best one of all, but I say that about all of them don't I? I actually always tell myself that what Audrey Hepburn and Robert Wolders had was exactly what I want in my marriage [in the far, far future]. It brings tears to my eyes because I really wish they had met earlier. They were so active and happy together. Thanks Joey for an outstanding post!

May 05, 2012  
Blogger barefoot duchess said...

amazing photo material, great article!! thanks for sharing =)

May 05, 2012  
Blogger Karena said...

My dear you have won my affections forever!! Audrey is my icon and I have always been so happy that she found the love of her life!

I have featured an Interview with Tina from The Enchanted Home...


Art by Karena

May 05, 2012  
Blogger Carlye Ignatenko said...

This is such a beautiful story! Thanks for sharing!

May 05, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this was so lovely to read, thank you kindly.

May 05, 2012  
Anonymous urban explorer said...

i've loved audrey since i was a little girl. thanks so much for sharing this beautiful story!

May 05, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post made me emotional too! The images and story came together beautifully. Success in life should be measured by the relationships we have with our families and loved ones ... Im so happy she had found her great love, a companion to enjoy the simple things in life with.

May 05, 2012  
Blogger SAM said...

oh god, i adore her. she truely is lovely, just like this blog post.

May 05, 2012  
Blogger vutruthoigian said...

thank you for the beautiful story. she is the definition of true beauty. true beauty never ages.

May 05, 2012  
Anonymous Monica said...

This has brought a tear to my eye. I wish one day I will be as lucky as she was.

May 06, 2012  
Anonymous stacy said...

this is such a lovely post on audrey. i have not seen many of these photos. what a treat! thank you~!

May 06, 2012  
Anonymous design elements said...

wonderful story!

May 06, 2012  
Blogger Michaela said...

I love this post! There's just one small error: the moving image of Audrey in a tiara and ballgown is from her role in Roman Holiday, not My Fair Lady.

May 06, 2012  
Blogger {this is glamorous} said...

michaela -- thank you :) had noticed it was mislabelled earlier, but had not had a chance to change until now xo

May 06, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a lovely poem!
Thanks for the post

May 06, 2012  
Blogger indie by heart said...

I think I've never seen pictures of aged Audrey, she was still absolutely gorgeous lady. Beautiful post. x

May 07, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful post!! Love Audrey Hepburn and this story.

May 07, 2012  
Blogger Paulina said...

I don't know if it's the hormones or if I miss my husband who is out of town, but that poem did me in...

May 07, 2012  
Blogger Eloquent English said...

One word - stunning.......... xoxo A-

May 07, 2012  
Anonymous Mrs. Châtelaine in Paris said...

It's lovely to be reminded of Audrey's eternal elegance and poise. Such an amazing woman!!

xox Mrs. Châtelaine in Paris

May 07, 2012  
Anonymous Beckie Gregory said...

What a fabulous post - she is such a beautiful timeless lady. I have never seen a bad photo of her!

I did not know she died of cancer - so sad.

Beckie :) x

May 07, 2012  
Blogger Lisa said...

aww this made me cry...


May 07, 2012  
Anonymous Carla Coulson said...

Crying.....a beautiful post and such a fantastic collection of pics put together, just had to link and share it on FB. my favourite so far in a lovely series
Carla x

May 08, 2012  
Blogger This is Belgium said...

hey and I like to add that Audrey was born in Brussels, in May 1929 in a house not very far from where I live ! there is a little sign on the wall commemorating her birth
greetings to all from Brussels

May 08, 2012  
Blogger Cynthia said...

THis is by far one of the most beautiful posts I've ever read. Just beautiful. It moved me to tears.

May 08, 2012  
Blogger Miss Hepburn said...

Ohhhhhh just beautiful!!

May 09, 2012  
Blogger TheBeautyFile said...

Oh I love this!!!!!

May 09, 2012  
Blogger Looking Glass said...

Beautiful post! That poem is just perfect.

~ Clare x

May 10, 2012  
Blogger Audrey said...

Love this post! great story about this beautiful lady!

May 10, 2012  
Blogger primpeony said...

Had not seen the shot of grace and audrey before. I idolise them both but feel audrey truly outshines even someone as beautiful as grace kelly. That profile! Stunning!

May 14, 2012  
Blogger Charm Flakes Group said...

I am so glad to have found your blog! I am now addicted after being here for several hours! I didn't know much about Audrey's final years. Thank you for the beautiful blog and stories.

June 10, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love love love this post! Thank you so much !

October 30, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Audrey Hepburn, she is my inspiration and idol. She had such a kind heart and was so graceful and gorgeous. Thanks for this post!

January 13, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this photo makes me feel sad. the way robert is staring at audrey's bust in switzerland. you can see the longing in his eyes for her.


January 27, 2013  
Blogger {this is glamorous} said...

anonymous -- how utterly heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time -- thank you so much for sending x

January 28, 2013  
Blogger yuri balayan said...

thank you for your soft and tender attitude to this miraculum mundi...

February 22, 2013  

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