The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,387 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,656 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! ~MaryJane
Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life …
For this week’s Each Other/Her-Story Intermediate Level Merit Badge, I got to pick another woman who was influential and powerful and inspiring (this time, living or dead) in my country. I had so many to choose from, it was hard to pick! It was like being in the line at the ice cream parlor … how to choose, how to choose? Which explains why I usually get three scoops. Which explains why my pants don’t button. Ahem.
But back to the badge, Madge!
I decided to go with someone I’d admired all my live-long days, and who I had originally thought of back during my Beginner Level badge earning: Audrey Hepburn.
After all, she seemed a practically perfect woman in every way (much like Mary Poppins, only, you know, real). She had style and grace, charm and wit, sure, but she did so much more!
In particular order, here are the most amazing things I found out about my dear Audrey:
- Audrey spoke fluently Dutch, Italian, Spanish, German, French, and English. I, myself, speak three languages: English, sarcasm, and whale.
- She is one of the few people who are a true EGOT, winning Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards.
- She was sent away to boarding school at the ripe old age of 5.
- Once the Germans invaded the Netherlands where Audrey lived, she became a member of the Dutch Resistance, where she delivered messages and packages and performed in clandestine performances of ballet for fundraising.
- During the Occupation, Audrey would make cakes and breads out of ground tulip bulbs. This affected her health and she developed anemia, and also had a hard time gaining weight for the rest of her life. She was told she would not be strong enough to continue with ballet dancing, and began to concentrate more on acting.
- Despite her father being a Nazi sympathizer and having left their family when Audrey was a child, she reached out to him in the sixties and supported him financially until his death.
- The dress she wore in Breakfast at Tiffany’s is considered the most iconic dress of all time, and is the inspiration behind the term ‘little black dress.’
- Cary Grant was quoted as saying, ‘All I want for Christmas is to be in another picture with Audrey Hepburn.’ Incidentally, I’ve been quoted as saying, ‘All I want for Christmas is Cary Grant.’
- She was appointed Goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF and United States President George H. W. Bush presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her work with UNICEF.
- The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences posthumously awarded her the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her contribution to humanity, with her son accepting on her behalf. Grateful for her own good fortune after enduring the German occupation as a child, she dedicated the remainder of her life to helping impoverished children in the poorest nations. Though she had done work for UNICEF in the 1950s, starting in 1954 with radio presentations, this was a much higher level of dedication. Her family said that the thoughts of dying, helpless children consumed her for the rest of her life.
- In 2002, at the United Nations Special Session on Children, UNICEF honored Hepburn’s legacy of humanitarian work by unveiling a statue, “The Spirit of Audrey”, at UNICEF’s New York headquarters. Her service for children is also recognized through the U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s Audrey Hepburn Society.