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Monday, June 16, 2014

Audrey Hepburn

"I love people who make me laugh.  I honestly think it's the thing I like most, to laugh.  It cures a multitude of ills.  It is probably the most important thing in a person."

— Audrey Hepburn
British Actress
1929 - 1993

I am by nature a very serious person.  Laughter does not come easy for me.  Yet, I agree whole-heartedly with Audrey Hepburn — laughter cures a multitude of ills.  My wife, on the other hand, is the family comedian and is always making people laugh.  She is the life of the party.  She is always telling me to smile more and I keep telling her to be more serious.  Yet it is probably our ability and willingness to laugh together that has helped our marriage to last more than forty years.

One of our daughters is like my wife.  She does silly things to make people laugh and she is always trying to make me laugh.  She gets excited when she discovers something that make me laugh.  She finds joy in living.  

What I have discovered is that I have a unique sense of humor.  Much of what others find funny I do not laugh at.  I don't laugh at slapstick comedy and I find most sitcoms boring. Yet, someone can say something that is not meant to be funny and I will laugh.  I often find satire to be very funny.

I have slowly learned to incorporate humor into my workshops and seminars, but I don't and can't tell jokes.  I don't have it in me.  Yet, I have found that I can play off the humor that is within every group.  I listen to what others say and spontaneously create short responses that continue and extend the humorous point that someone made.

I believe we have to be able to laugh at life.  Even the best laid plans of mice and men will and often do go astray.  The creative leader has to learn to laugh when things go wrong.  We have to learn not to take ourselves too seriously because in the end it doesn't matter when we are six feet under.  Humor is the key to survival in this difficult and challenging world in which we live.

What makes you laugh?  Do you laugh often?  Do you have those deep belly laughs where everything shakes and tears fill your eyes?  Laughter helps us to relax and unwind and frees up the creative juices.  Most of us serious folks need to learn to laugh more and enjoy ourselves.

Audrey Kathleen Ruston was the daughter of Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston, a British subject, and Baroness Ella van Heemstra, a Dutch aristocrat.  Although she was born in Belgium, Audrey Hepburn held British citizenship through her father.  Hepburn spoke five languages: English, Dutch, French, Spanish and Italian.  Her parents divorced when she was a young girl.

The eleven-year-old Hepburn was living in the Netherlands when Germany invaded in 1940.  During the war, she suffered from malnutrition, developed anemia, respiratory problems and edema.  She secretly danced for groups of people to raise money for the Dutch resistance.  She occasionally  was a courier for the resistance, delivering messages and packages.

During the Dutch famine in the winter of 1944, Hepburn and her family resorted to making flour out of tulip bulbs to bake cakes and biscuits.  She passed the time by drawing.  After the war ended, Hepburn, who had studied ballet since she was five, took ballet lessons for three years from a leading figure in Dutch ballet.  

Hepburn moved to London to work as a chorus girl.  She performed in musical theater revues in 1948, 1949 and 1950.  In 1951, she acted in several British films.  Her big break came when she was selected to play Gigi in the Broadway play in November of 1951 which ran for 219 performances and earned her a Theatre World Award.

In 1953, William Wyler cast Hepburn in the starring role of Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck.  The film garnered her critical and commercial success including Academy Award for Best Actress.  She was signed to a seven picture contract with Paramount.  She starred opposite several of Hollywood's best actors including, Humphrey Bogart, William Holden, Henry Fonda, Fred Astaire, Cary Grant and Gary Cooper.

Here is Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in the movie Sabrina.