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1958: Hepburn gets second wind

A look back at the actress and 'Nun's Story'

June 19, 1958

GOOD MORNING from Rome: Audrey Hepburn in her nun’s costume and chalk-white makeup looks more fragile than ever. She was ready to fold a couple of weeks ago. “I think I’ve gotten my second breath now,” she said, “I’ll make it.” She’ll need a second breath. “Nun’s Story ” is skedded to shoot until July 15 — that’s when hubby Mel Ferrer opens “Green Mansions.” However, he’s trying to set the pic’s opening sans Hepburn. She’s in every scene in “Story” but has it a little easier in “Mansions.” … As for “L’Aiglon” to be done by William Wyler, Miss H. says “I hope we make it some day soon — or else I’ll be too old to play it.” P.S. She plans a long rest following “Mansions.” … Fred Zinnemann, directing “Nun’s Story,” has no excuses for the film’s delays. “We’re just behind schedule” … (2008 update: Audrey Hepburn’s “Nun’s Story” performance has been named the best of her career. “Green Mansions,” directed by Ferrer, was not one of her best. He bought her the tiny fawn from the movie and they kept it as a pet in their Beverly Hills home. Hepburn and Ferrer divorced in 1968 after 14 years of marriage She then married Andrea Doti and after his death was partnered with Rob Wolders until her death Jan. 20, 1993. Her (and Ferrer’s) son Sean continues to oversee the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund. Mel Ferrer continued his full career performing on the big and small screens for 40 years. His lifelong friend Efrem Zimbalist Jr. reminded me Mel also produced the 1967 “Wait Until Dark” in which he (Zimbalist) costarred with Hepburn. Mel married Lisa Soukhotine in 1971. They live on a beautiful ranch in Carpenteria. Ferrer, 91, underwent surgery on Jan. 29 for a broken intestine, Lisa told me. He was then stricken with double pneumonia but, she said, he is on the road to recovery and is in a convalescent home. I was able to speak to him briefly on the phone and he sounded exceedingly happy to hear from me after these many years. I also spoke with his son Mark, 63. He and his family, live within 400 feet of Mel’s house. He told me his father has written a wonderful autobiography. “But no publisher has bought it — it’s not scandalous.”)

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