Audrey Hepburn’s oldest son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer, made a remarkable discovery as a teenager. “I was back home in Switzerland. [I found that] my mother kept all her awards, film memorabilia, costumes and photographs in the attic,” he tells exclusively tells Closer Weekly, on newsstands now. “That’s how I first discovered her films.”
In 1967, not long after she became one of the highest-paid women in Hollywood, Audrey walked away from making movies to become a full-time mother. She was so successful at it that her two sons, Sean, 60, and Luca Dotti, 51, didn’t understand how famous she was for many years. “My mother was very present — picking me up at school, worrying about education, things like that,” Lucca, whose father was Audrey’s second husband Andrea Dotti, tells Closer.
During her first marriage to actor Mel Ferrer, Audrey suffered several heartbreaking miscarriages before Sean was born in 1960. “When I had to go to school and could no longer travel to be with her on the set, she gave up her career,” explains Sean. “She felt the most valuable thing was family.”
By all accounts, Audrey settled very contentedly into domestic life in her Swiss farmhouse. “It’s sad if people think that’s a dull existence,” she said. “It’s the flowers you choose, the music you play, the smile you have waiting. I want [home] to be gay and cheerful, a haven in this troubled world.” Her sons say she succeeded. “I think she was very happy at home with her dogs and her cooking,” says Sean. “Her secret to happiness was simple and unpretentious. She had a beautiful house, would pick fruit and make jams, run the dogs in the fields, have a whiskey at 5 o’clock and cook a great plate of pasta. It wasn’t complicated.”
Audrey didn’t drive, but she loved to walk. “She loved having conversations as she walked,” recalls Lucca. And she spent a great deal of time in her garden. “The joy of things blooming after a strong winter — in Switzerland we have hard winters — that was something she liked to share with us a lot,” he says.
As a little boy, Sean recalls being shown his mother when one of her movies was on television, but he didn’t make the connection. “We had one old black and white TV, and she didn’t look like my mother at home,” he says. “I didn’t realize it was her.”
It was only after his mother’s death in 1993 that Sean began to truly understand the magnitude of Audrey’s stardom. “We needed a rock concert-style parking lot for her funeral in a little village of 600 people!” he recalls. “I think that’s the greatest gift she gave us, this normal upbringing without her fame hanging over our heads. It actually prepared us for the world.”
— Reporting by Katie Bruno
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