May 4th: Audrey Hepburn!

Things have been pretty quiet around here at Speaking Up — because things have also been quiet for Google Doodles, at least in the United States. I’m very happy to announce the Doodle that drew me back to the Speaking Up project:

Today, Google is honoring the incomparable Audrey Hepburn, about whom I first wrote back on May 4th, 2012. Two years later, her 85th birthday (she was born May 4, 1929) has brought her to the front page of the most visited website in the world.

A Google Doodle honoring Audrey Hepburn, posted on May 4th, 2014.

A Google Doodle honoring Audrey Hepburn, posted on May 4th, 2014.

Below the fold, I’ll share the same enthusiastic endorsement of Hepburn’s Doodle-worthiness that I wrote in 2012.

“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 long career as a film actress.

Audrey Hepburn in one of her best-loved roles, as Holly Golightly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

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, plus the Hersholt Humanitarian Award), 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 have 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. This Doodle is both well-deserved and long overdue!

Hepburn was also, as I’ve mentioned, a humanitarian, and she’s a big deal in that realm even if you completely ignore her cinematic star status. Audrey was a young girl living in the Netherlands when it was occupied by Nazi forces during World War II. During that time she suffered from malnutrition and anemia, while also risking her life and safety to collect 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 the essential 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. Three cheers to the Doodles team for finally correcting this long oversight!

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