4 May 2019

There is only one you

In his 1996 biography on Audrey Hepburn, Barry Paris stated that Audrey was not only a biographer's dream but also a biographer's nightmare. A beloved actress and a passionate advocate for children's rights, Audrey was (and still is) só admired and revered that practically nobody had anything negative to say about her. Paris found that the worst thing Audrey seemingly did was her failure to mention Patricia Neal at the 1965 Oscars (read more about that here).

Audrey is and has been an inspiration to a lot of people, even long before she reached her icon status. One of the people she inspired in the early 1960s was Cherylin Sarkisian, an insecure teenage girl who became later known as Cher.

A teenager who didn't really fit in, Cher hated high school but loved to watch movies. In 1961 she saw Breakfast at Tiffany's with Audrey Hepburn for the first time leaving her completely awestruck. At that time most of the female stars were blondes with whom Cher couldn't identify (e.g. Doris Day and Sandra Dee), but now seeing Audrey --a brunette portraying an eccentric, free spirit like she was herself-- she had found her role model. Cher became fascinated with Audrey, dressing herself and behaving like Audrey's character Holly Golightly and getting herself into trouble at school in the process.


It wasn't until many years later, after she had become an actress herself, that Cher finally got to meet her idol. The occasion was the 1988 Academy Awards Ceremony where Cher was awarded the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance in Moonstruck. Audrey loved Cher in Moonstruck and told Cher that night that she had wanted her to win. (Cher was in fact one of Audrey's favourite contemporary actresses and Audrey admired her for her "enormous scale of emotions and total lack of inhibition.")

Three years later, on 22 April 1991, Audrey herself was honoured at a gala tribute in New York. Seeing how much Audrey loved Moonstruck and the performance of leading lady Cher, Audrey's then-partner Robert Wolders suggested that Cher be a surprise guest at the tribute. Cher was invited but then two days before the event she got sick. Heartbroken that she wouldn't be able to attend and tell Audrey in person how much she meant to her, Cher took pen to paper and wrote Audrey the following letter.


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Source: Christie's

Transcript:

April 20, 1991

Dearest Audrey,

This is a very hard letter for me to write, because what I had dreamt of doing all my life was to be able to tell you all of this in person- or at least in front of hundreds of people Monday night! I bought a new dress (something I thought you would love) and was completely ready to tell my innermost feelings about you because of the profound effect you have had on my life.

On the night I won the Oscar you touched my hand and said you were glad I'd won..... you can never imagine what that meant to me. Since I was a little girl you have been my idea of a "star" and it was partly because of you that I became an actress.

You were a brilliant light for me in a sometimes dark childhood. I so wanted to be like you in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" that I put my hair in 2 ponytails, bought huge sunglasses, and wore the closest thing to "you" that I could put together. I got suspended from school for the sunglasses but never mind- I was on my way to being just like you. But as I started to grow up I realized I couldn't be you because there is only one you.

(There is no better argument for being an individual than you, being you, living your life as you do on screen (I could never presume to know the private you by your image alone))

Someone once said to me that I was like a "3rd world Audrey Hepburn"- I'm not sure how they meant it, but it's one of my favorite comments regarding me. Your work is so beautiful that it has inspired me again and again.

I love you and respect you and you will never know how sad I am to miss this golden opportunity to say it in person. I send you my love,

Cher
This post is my contribution to the AUDREY AT 90: THE SALUTE TO AUDREY HEPBURN BLOGATHON hosted by SISTER CELLULOID. Be sure to check out all the other entries here!!

14 comments:

  1. Wow, what a wonderful, touching story. I had no idea these two were friends, though they do seem like kindred spirits. Thank you so much for sharing this with us and joining the blogathon!

    Yours,

    Sister Celluloid

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    1. I didn't know about the connection between Audrey and Cher either until I came across Cher's letter. Love the story too. Thanks for hosting this blogathon in honour of a very special lady!

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  2. I was very moved by Cher's tribute to her idol.

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    1. It is quite touching indeed. And I can only imagine how upset Cher must have been becoming ill just before the event. Thanks for dropping by!

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  3. I can definitely believe that there was not much negativity around Audrey as she seemed like a genuinely marvellous woman. She had several reasons for "holding a grudge" against life but instead, she was radiant and loving, becoming an ambassador to improve the plight of others less fortunate. Audrey was correct on her appraisal of Cher's acting skills and I'm so glad to see that they had such a good connection and relationship. I really enjoyed reading your contribution, thank you! :-D

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    1. I too believe that Audrey was such a beautiful person that there was really no reason for negativity. Thanks for visiting!

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  4. Wow! This is such a lovely story I had no idea they had a mutual admiration for each other. Thanks so much for sharing this story with us!

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    1. I'm happy to share:) Thank YOU for visiting!

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  5. That's just lovely, and Cher certainly has beautiful penmanship (and I'm not just saying that because it resembles my own!). Really cool signature too. Thanks for putting a light on this cool interaction.

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    1. I love her handwriting, and yours too then:) Thanks!

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  6. Lovely post! I didn't know about the letter! Thanks for sharing ... :)

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  7. I didn't know Cher was such a fan of Audrey's or that Breakfast Tiffany's had such an impact on her. But I understand. I had the same reaction to the film and, more specifically, Holly Golightly. It's lovely that Cher was able to tell her - maybe a blessing that she was ill in a way, since she put her feelings in writing, something Audrey could keep and re-read. I'd say Cher's performance as Loretta in Moonstruck is the equivalent of Audrey's in Breakfast at Tiffany's in that it is her signature role as Holly is Audrey's.

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    1. I need to watch Moonstruck again. I only saw it once shortly after it was released. Cher was great in it, I do remember that. Thanks!

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