May 4th: Keith Haring & Audrey Hepburn

At this point, I honestly cannot imagine the shock I’ll feel some morning when I wake up and Google has finally posted a Doodle honoring a woman. Today, they are honoring Keith Haring, an artist and social activist known for his pop/graffiti art style, who iconic images are extremely well-known and recognizable in the U.S. I was introduced to Haring’s work years ago by a cousin who is an artist and graphic designer herself, and today on the blog, I’m going to highlight another iconic figure introduced to me by my family when I was quite young: Audrey Hepburn (born May 4, 1929)!

Audrey Hepburn as I love her best: in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

“Iconic” doesn’t even begin to describe the weight of Hepburn’s status in our culture. I think it’s fair to say that she is equally significant for her humanitarian and philanthropic work as for her acting.

But here, we’ll start with her film work. She’s known for her turns in Roman Holiday (which netted her an Academy Award for Best Actress), Sabrina (which led to a second nomination in that category), Funny Face, The Nun’s Story (another Academy Award nomination!), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (. . . another!), Charade, My Fair Lady, Wait Until Dark (one more!) and How to Steal a Million (apologies if I’ve left out your personal favorite Hepburn film).

In case you weren’t counting, that was 5 Academy Award nominations (1 win), and she also earned 5 BAFTA nominations (3 wins), 10 Golden Globe nominations (3 wins), along with two Tony Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Grammy, and an Emmy. She’s one of only 14 entertainers known as “EGOTs” — people who won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar (Academy) and Tony awards — joining the lofty ranks of such performers as John Gielgud, Mel Brooks, and Barbra Streisand. To sum up: she’s kind of a big deal.

Hepburn was also, as I’ve mentioned, a humanitarian, and she’s a big deal in that realm even if you completely ignore her star status. Audrey was a young girl living in the Netherlands when it was occupied by Nazi forces during World War II, and during that time she suffered from malnutrition and anemia, while also collecting money for the Dutch Resistance. She credited these experiences with inspiring her humanitarian work, much of which was focused on child welfare around the world. Later in her career, she was heavily involved with the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, serving as a Goodwill Ambassador and traveling to 20 countries, including Ethiopia, Turkey, Venezuela, Ecuador, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Sudan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Somalia. She dedicated five years of her life to interacting with children and families living in war and disaster zones, and communicating her findings in the media and directly to world leaders. Her ability to do this work was bolstered by her skill with languages, as she was fluent in English, Dutch, French, Italian, Spanish, and German. In 1992, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S., for her UNICEF efforts.

And for all of this, she is beloved, both an American and a worldwide treasure — like many women before her and since her. It’s 2012, and Google can’t come up with a single example of someone like this to include in their Doodles series.

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One thought on “May 4th: Keith Haring & Audrey Hepburn

  1. Pingback: May 4th: Audrey Hepburn! | Speaking Up

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