My Fair Lady – The Rain In Spain

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Born into a privileged life, and privately educated, hardship fell upon the star when she and her mother, Ella van Heemstra, were vacationing in Holland. It was during the Second World War when the town they were visiting was overtaken by the Nazis. Hepburn, like millions of others, nearly starved when the Nazis cut off food supplies.

A ballet dancer at the time, Time reported she said: “I did indeed give various underground concerts to raise money for the Dutch Resistance movement.

“The recitals were given in houses with windows and doors closed, and no one knew they were going on.”

Post-war, the ballet dancer returned to London, where she studied, and a producer saw the talent Hepburn could have for film.

The Belgium award-winning star is best known for classics such as Roman Holiday (1953), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), and My Fair Lady (1964).

In her later years, Hepburn became the ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the humanitarian aid organisation, no doubt encouraged by her past.

The leading lady, however, passed away at a relatively young age – 63.

Hepburn died from appendicular cancer, in Tolochenaz, Switerzland, on January 20, 1993.

The National Organisation for Rare Disease (NORD) says the “average” onset of this type of cancer is between the ages of 50 to 55.

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Explaining what the appendix is, the National Cancer Institute stated: “The appendix is a small pouch of tissue in the abdomen.

“It is part of the intestines and colon, which absorb nutrients and remove waste from the body.

“We do not know what the appendix does, but it may help the immune system.”

There are two main types of appendiceal cancer: epithelial appendiceal cancer and neuroendocrine appendiceal cancer.

Dr Gabe Mirkin proclaims that Hepburn suffered from “pseudomyxoma peritonei”.

He explained: “This is an extremely rare cancer that starts as a small polyp in the appendix.

“The cancer cells produce large amounts of mucous, called mucin, that slowly accumulate in the appendix until it bursts.”

Dr Mirkin said the cancer can lead to belly pain, constipation, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, and extreme tiredness.

He added: “Nobody knows what causes this horrible cancer, as there are no known genetic, familial or environmental factors.

“We do not know if severe food deprivation in childhood increased Hepburn’s risk for dying from cancer later in life.”

Hepburn was survived by her children, Luca Dotti and Sean Hepburn Ferrer.

Audrey Hepburn starred in My Fair Lady, which is showcasing on Sunday, March 12 on Channel 5 at 1pm.

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