AUDREY HEPBURN by Warren G. Harris (Simon & Schulster, 319 pp.) is the latest in a long string of Hepburn biographies. Unfortunately, it isn't one of the best.
Harris is a good writer, and an even better researcher. His Hepburn story is a pastiche of quotes and clippings that reads like an intensified movie biog, though he certainly weaves into it a host of good and colorful anecdotes which are meant to explain Hepburn's meteoric rise and her great personal appeal.
What is missing here is the personal touch a writer gets when he knows his subject and has interviewed that person. Harris says he became smitten with Hepburn when he saw Roman Holiday back in 1953, and she instantly became his favorite movie actress.
Since Harris is such a good writer, and he certainly knows how to string his facts together, his book recreates Audrey's life with a good deal of feeling for his subject. He is particularly successful in describing her youth in Holland, and her experiences under the Nazi occupation. One is struck by the fact that both her parents were strong Fascist sympathizers - her father was actually jailed in England as a rabid supporter of Oswald Mosley's Fascist party - and she never saw him again.
Also astonishing are Audrey's various affairs (with William Holden, Albert Finney, possibly Peter O'Toole) and her lack of success in two marriages (to Mel Fetter and Italian psychiatrist/playboy Andrea Dotti). But it's all done at a distance, and Harris, lacking personal knowledge, transposes his own reactions to hers throughout the book. Interestingly, when Audrey hears of President...