Thursday, June 4, 2009
Poll Results: Audrey Hepburn
“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”
The May poll results (82 total votes):
Audrey Hepburn- 26 (32%)
Marilyn Monroe- 19 (23%)
Grace Kelly- 18 (22%)
Doris Day- 11 (13%)
Elizabeth Taylor- 8 (9%)
I’ll admit that these polls are merely an excuse for me to ramble on about whoever the winner is. I always hope that someone reading might agree with what I say, or, even better, provide an eye-opening point of view that I hadn’t previously considered. I know very little about these actresses, and what I believe is largely based on my perceptions of them onscreen. So feel free to jump in and share what it is you like about them (or dislike; just be nice) I’m also willing to welcome someone passionate enough about their choice to invite them as a guest blogger here. Okay? Great!
I thought that the May poll question, “Who do you think is the quintessential 1950s actress?” would be handily won by that ever-popular cultural icon, Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn has all the snapshot images: the white dress blowing up, the kiss from the window, entertaining the troops in that slinky black dress in Korea, the bleach-blonde hair and the endless commercialization of said images.
Perhaps Doris Day might have emerged victorious, given her status as the prototypically 1950s “Girl Next Door.” But Day is a polarizing figure and has as many detractors as she does admirers, though she performed respectably in the poll.
Grace Kelly had a stellar year in 1954, even winning an Oscar (and beating out Audrey). But she beat it out of Hollywood in 1956 and married that schlubby prince.
Elizabeth Taylor had the movie star pedigree: the child star that came of age in the 1950s and was also the one with all the Oscar nominations earning consecutive nods in 1957 through 1960.
However, the clear winner is Audrey Hepburn, who, despite trailing early in the voting, emerged as the majority’s choice as the quintessential 1950s actress. I still believe that she won because in the view of many classic movie lovers, Audrey has more substance than Marilyn, even if we know virtually every detail of the latter’s perpetual unhappiness and early death. Marilyn longed to be considered a “serious” actress and an intellectual. That never happened. It would also seem that the Audrey fans out there stuffed the Hollywood Dreamland ballot box! Her fans are legion; just look at the amount of blogger profile pictures that use Hepburn as their avatar.
I have a theory about Audrey’s popularity, and I’ve commented on it before when her role as Princess Ann in Roman Holiday won March’s poll:
Audrey isn’t the sex goddess Marilyn is, she’s not the goody-goody Doris’ public image made her out to be, she didn’t have Grace Kelly’s royal, icy aloofness, and she wasn’t shrill and mean as Liz Taylor could be in her films. Audrey happened to just happened to carry herself like a princess, was beautiful like a porcelain doll, but emotional, sensitive, and above all—accessible. This is speculation, but I think that Audrey, regardless of her beauty and ability, had whatever the heck it was that most any girl out there understood: uncertainty, the feeling of being alone in the world. Marilyn Monroe, who obviously felt that way in her personal life, never conveyed those feelings onscreen. Audrey was able to show happiness tinged with an ever-present sadness. It was often seen in her movies as a moment of joy quickly replaced by her sad knowledge of the world, and of her own condition. This isn't present with any other actress and Audrey used that and made it her—I use this word too much---persona.
Of course, there's not a single, definitive reason that Audrey has become as popular as she has. When I was growing up, Marilyn Monroe was the star that girls idolized. MM’s popularity has dimmed since that time, but clearly a new awareness of Audrey Hepburn’s appeal has made itself known. Whatever it is, there wasn’t anything in the popular culture to catapult Audrey above these other actresses, so I’d be interested in knowing what makes Audrey so special to you. As for those that didn’t win, do chime in on what it was that made you vote the way you did.