#WCW is a take on the “Women Crush Wednesday” internet trend. In this post I’m turning the focus on four of my favorite actresses who were more than just pretty faces.
She’s undoubtedly one of the most popular women in pop culture history but instead of the beautiful violet eyes and multiple marriages what I admire most about Miss. Taylor are her tireless efforts to fight for those with HIV and AIDS. Taylor gave a voice to the voiceless in the mid 80’s during the frightening early days of the AIDS epidemic. She founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research in 1983. For Taylor, the epidemic hit close to home. Her friend and costar Rock Hudson died from it and her daughter-in-law was also diagnosed. The nonprofit is dedicated to AIDS research, treatment, education and advocacy. Since its inception, amfAR has raised millions in hopes of finding a cure. In a career that spanned six decades and two Oscars, it’s clear her greatest role was as an activist.
Audrey Hepburn’s charm captivated audiences when the first took notice of her on Broadway in Gigi then became an international star with her first film, Roman Holiday. These days she’s mostly known as the girl behind the big wayfarer glasses galivanting around New York City thanks to her iconic role as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I love that she is a symbol of elegance and sophistication. I love that young girls continue to have her poster hanging in their rooms but at some point it becomes problematic for me because they’re not getting what Audrey Hepburn was all about. You see Audrey Hepburn was much much more than a classy lady. Yes, she was a fashion icon but her “classiness” wasn’t about fancy clothes, it was about helping others. Audrey was a child during World War II and lived in hiding in the Netherlands. She suffered malnutrition, eating tulip bulbs in order to survive. She was a ballet dancer and secretly danced for groups of people to raise money for the Dutch resistance. When the Netherlands was eventually liberated, the United Nations delivered food and other essentials to help those in need. Audrey never forgot that and it inspired her to get involved in UNICEF, which she did during her later years. She was appointed as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in the late 80’s and continued her role up until her death.
Natalie Wood’s big brown eyes and seamless transition from child star to ingenue made her a beloved actress in Hollywood. Unfortunately, the secrets surrounding her tragic death seem to overshadow many of her accomplishments. I recently read Suzanne Finstad’s biography of Natalie Wood titled “Natasha” and was deeply moved by her story. Natalie’s life wasn’t an easy one. She endured tremendous pressure to grow up quickly as a child actress due to her overbearing stage mother but accounts by those closest to her say you would never know it because she lived life with grace and the utmost professionalism. Behind those dark eyes was a survivor. She was a survivor of a drunken father, abuse from her mother, and a rape in her teens but she didn’t let that define her. Natalie also spoke out about psychoanalysis in a time where it wasn’t really discussed. Natalie went to therapy for years and was always very open about her time in television interviews. Natalie was not afraid and from her courage she continues to help others like me who are captivated by her films and are inspired by her spirit.
Hedy Lamarr was once declared the world’s most beautiful woman. Yes, the “world.” But she also had the brains to match. Hedy was not only an Austrian leading lady, she was also an inventor. She co-invented the technology for spread spectrum and frequency hopping communications essentially paving the way for something we call wifi today.