“All the times I watched ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’ and I never realized she was an escort!” Someone said this to me recently. I’ve only seen the movie once. Audrey Hepburn is superb playing the role of a delightful young woman: pretty and a bit flighty. She can barely complete a sentence before changing the subject. Everything amazes her. She believes everyone.
But she is an escort. Or, as the book’s author, Truman Capote put it, she’s a “modern day geisha”. A modern day courtesan might be a better description. Courtesans were paid for their companionship, you might say. The payment could have been primarily money, but generally it involved moving in the higher social circles. Like Holly Golightly (how’s that for a “hooker name”?), the character Hepburn plays in the movie, the courtesan entertained and amused her benefactor and well, sometimes satisfied other needs.
“Pretty Woman” Vivian Ward, played by Julia Roberts (also superb) was a prostitute turned courtesan/escort. Pretty and a bit flighty, she surely prepared for the role by studying Hepburn’s Holly Golightly, as well as Hepburn’s performance of Eliza Doolittle (these names!) in “My Fair Lady”, where she was not really a courtesan, but there is a striking similarity between these films, in any case.
Interesting note regarding Hepburn playing the lead in “Breakfast At Tiffany’s”, which was actually tailored for Marilyn Monroe, but Monroe rejected the role as bad for her image, of all things. And when Hepburn played the lead in “My Fair Lady”, it caused quite a stir because the lead in the play had been Julie Andrews, who had been nominated for a Tony award for her performance. Although Andrews didn’t get to be in the movie version of “My Fair Lady”, she did get to play in a different movie that year (1964), as Mary Poppins. That performance won her the Oscar, and Hepburn had to settle for a nomination.
The director of “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” was Blake Edwards, who is also known for creating, writing and directing the Pink Panther movies and TV show, writing and directing “10”, and dozens of other movies. And being married to Julie Andrews.