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Belgian-born American actress, Audrey Hepburn (1929 - 1993), wearing a white blouse with pink flowers, circa 1963. (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)
Where Audrey Hepburn’s Stage Name Really Came From
History - Science
Now a household name, actress Audrey Hepburn had an unconventional childhood during World War II. Her Dutch mother and her English father were both Nazi sympathizers, and they influenced her stage name before she embarked on her career in show business.
Hepburn’s father was born Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston, but he changed his surname to Hepburn-Ruston, because he believed he could trace his family’s lineage to James Hepburn, the husband of Mary, Queen of Scots. Audrey Hepburn started using this name before her Broadway debut, as it gave her a degree of separation from her parents’ Nazi ties.
According to different sources, Hepburn’s full birth name was either Edda van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston or Audrey Kathleen Ruston (Audrey being the English version of the Dutch name Edda). During World War II, Hepburn’s mother changed her daughter’s surname to van Heemstra to hide her father’s British heritage while they were living in the Netherlands.