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Audrey Hepburn Honored at Dinner

April 28, 1993|BILL HIGGINS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Audrey Hepburn probably deserved a more well-attended tribute dinner than the one she received Sunday at Santa Monica's chic Bikini, but at least it benefited her favorite charity. More than $50,000 went to the United Nations Children's Fund for which the late actress had been a goodwill ambassador since 1988.

Beneficial though the fund raising was, what diminished the evening was meager participation by the vast number of admirers, friends and co-workers Hepburn had in Hollywood. (There will be a memorial Friday at the U.N. in New York where a stronger turnout is expected.)

On hand for the dinner were Billy Wilder, who directed Hepburn in one of her first major films, "Sabrina," and Peter Bogdanovich, who directed one of her last, "They All Laughed." Also attending was James Coburn who co-starred with Hepburn and Cary Grant in "Charade."

"Of course I was overshadowed by them," said Coburn. "But when you're overshadowed by actors that are great, you don't care."

There was an art auction at nearby Henshey's immediately preceding the dinner for works by the Finnish-born sculptor Eino. It was there that the artist unveiled his bronze bust of Hepburn. A silent auction for his works continued during dinner with a portion of the receipts to go to UNICEF. However, only two pieces were sold.

Despite the disappointing art sale, the evening did have a triumph--what might have been one of the best meals ever served at a charity dinner. Chef John Sedlar began with a fish mousse, then an entree of chicken breast with Chilean pebre sauce and finished with a chocolate tamale and berries.

Two other high points of the evening were a strong performance by the 45-member Childrens International Peace Choir from Long Beach and Bogdanovich's keynote speech on the honoree.

"Audrey Hepburn was a beacon of tasteful glamour, of sensitivity and of the integrity of youth," said Bogdanovich. "Looking back now, we can see clearly that in the last decade and a half of the golden age of Hollywood, Audrey Hepburn became the last true innocent of the American screen."

Among the 200 who heard the speech were emcee Charles Champlin, Barbara Bosson Bochco, UNICEF's Richard Gorman, Barbara Lazaroff and Hepburn's son, Sean Ferrer.

"There's not much you can say that's not been said about Audrey Hepburn," said Wilder. "She was absolutely, totally unique. Working with her, there will never be a pleasure like this again."

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