Blessed with huge, dark eyes - 'enormous heron's eyes', Cecil Beaton called them - delicate bone structure and engaging, elfin smile, she radiated a fragile, sparrowish beauty which won admiration without either giving or receiving menace.
Fred Astaire, for example, was nearly 30 years her senior in Funny Face (1956); Gary Cooper was 57 to her 27 in Love in the Afternoon (1957); and Cary Grant 25 years older when they starred together in Charade (1963).She was adept at leading rakes back to righteousness, a pattern established with her first leading role, in Roman Holiday (1953), which made her a star overnight.Hepburn was exquisite as Higgins's creation, attired in Beaton's sumptuous costumes, particularly in the Ascot scene when she was wrapped up like a box of chocolates, complete with feathers, ribbons, bows and lace.Beaton had two full days to photograph her in all Eliza's dresses; and she looked stunning in all 350 exposures.She was conspicuous for not winning an award in the film - and it cannot ha ve helped that the Oscar for Best Actress that year went to Miss Andrews for Mary Poppins.
The only daughter of a Dutch aristocrat and her Anglo-Irish husband, she was born Edda Van Heemstra Hepburn Ruston in Brussels on May 4, 1929.
Educated in Holland and Britain, she dreamed of becoming a ballet dancer.
When she was six her parents were divorced and she went to live with her father.
Sensitive, introverted and elusive, she evolved gently, almost imperceptibly, from a genuine ingenue into an adult one.
There was something of Cinderella about her - a modern Cinderella whose Prince Charmings were usually old enough to be her father.
But she was unconvincing in the film's earlier scenes as a Cockney flower girl.