Movie Millisecond and The Way They Were: William and Audrey edition


William Holden and Audrey Hepburn as David Larrabee and Sabrina Fair(child).

Isn’t that always the way of it? Sabrina (Billy Wilder, 1954).

William Holden and Audrey Hepburn fell in love on this set and began a very passionate affair.

“Before I even met her, I had a crush on her, and after I met her, just a day later, I felt as if we were old friends, and I was rather fiercely protective of her though not in a possessive way.

(William Holden, qtd. in William Holden: A Biography. Michelangelo Capua. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2010. p. 79.)



“She was the love of my life. Sometimes at night, I’d get a portable record player and drive out to the country to a little clearing we’d found. We’d put on ballet music. Some of our most magic moments were there.”

(Ibid. p. 81)


Audrey and William on location in Lower Manhattan for Sabrina, 1953.

Supposedly Holden wanted to officially leave his wife Ardis, from whom he was separated for the majority of his marriage, and be with Audrey, but she turned him down because he’d had a vasectomy and being a mother was essential to her. I’ve never really seen that 100% substantiated. In any case, Audrey allegedly announced her engagement to Mel Ferrer at a party the Holdens were hosting. And you thought you’d been through bad break-ups.

Audrey married Mel Ferrer in 1954, Holden became an alcoholic who grew difficult to insure on pictures, and they did not see each other for a decade, until they were paired again in 1963 to film Paris When It Sizzles.


“I remember the day I arrived at Orly Airport for Paris When It Sizzles. I could hear my footsteps echoing against the walls of the transit corridor, just like a condemned man walking the last mile. I realized that I had to face Audrey and I had to deal with my drinking. And I didn’t think I could handle either situation.”

(William Holden.)

He was right in that assessment. Hollywood legend has it that William Holden tried repeatedly, with horrible results, to win back the woman he cited as the love of his life.

According to scriptwriter George Axelrod, Holden often showed up on set drunk and, on one occasion, climbed a tree by a wall leading up to her room. Hepburn leaned out the window to find out where the noise was coming from when Holden grabbed and kissed her. He then slipped out of the tree and landed on a parked car below.

(Martin Gitlin. Audrey Hepburn. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. 2009. p. 72.)


Audrey’s interest in men, according to the few who got to know her intimately during her career, though strong, was intermittent. She had affairs when passing through emotionally tense times. She had a preference for men who made the first move, who were bold, … and [who] didn’t appreciate her rare nature. Observers were surprised at Audrey’s tolerance of her lovers’ habits, their bluntness and sometimes crude languge: the opposite of her composed nature. Perhaps that was where their attractiveness lay.

(Alexander Walker. Audrey: her real story. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994. p. 90-91.)

Audrey died of cancer January 20, 1993. As for William Holden,

On November 12, 1981, Holden was alone and intoxicated in his apartment in Santa Monica, California, when he slipped on a throw rug, severely lacerated his forehead on a teak bedside table, and bled to death. Evidence suggests he was conscious for at least half an hour after the fall. It is probable that he may not have realized the severity of the injury and did not summon aid, or was unable to call for help. His body was found four days later.

(the wiki.)

R.I.P. to both.

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15 Responses to “Movie Millisecond and The Way They Were: William and Audrey edition”

  1. bishop2 Says:

    So interesting the way you tell the story, so interesting this human parts from that time… thank you!!!

  2. bishop2 Says:

    sorry… these instead of this 🙂

  3. bishop2 Says:

    better…this human people…my English continues far from perfect…greetings!

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Cliff Robertson has explained Bill’s not calling for help when he injured himself. He wasn’t too stubborn to call for that help, he was ‘too proud’.

  5. alice Says:

    What a sad end for an excellent actor!
    I found out from pictures that he was so very handsome when he was younger. His wife Brend Marshall was beautiful.
    I thank all the actors who entertained us in movie theaters and in our living rooms via TV. They certainly brought joy to our lives.

  6. claravw Says:

    Reblogged this on Not of This Century.

    • alice ling Says:

      I remember William Holden.
      I remember him in ‘Sabrina’ (with Audrey Hepburn)
      in ‘love is a many splendored thing’ (with Jennifer Jones)
      in ‘the world of Suzie Wong’ (with Nancy Kwan)
      also in an earlier movie I saw on TV ‘Rachel and the stranger’.

      He was marvellous! RIP

  7. Priscilla Karam Says:

    I have always felt that beautiful people like them should never die. Its strangely fulfilling how we come to love them so much because they have given us so many beautiful moments, and savored them with much affection. William Holden was perfect, no less than Audrey. It pains me every time when I see people like them grow old with age and wither. I’m not a sentimentalist, but its impossible not to become one when it comes to the Golden Boy. Thank you for the post.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    It is amazing how the public can ideolize a star such as William Holden, only to discover that his life was very horrible. But he was great when he was normal.

    Praise God!

  9. St. Clair Wesley Dorant Says:

    It is amazing how the public can ideolize a star such as William Holden, only to discover that his life was very horrible. But he was great when he was normal.

    Praise God!

  10. Tally Haugen Says:

    He loved her… I don’t think he should be penalized for that or for being HUMAN..I wish EARLY, it had worked out for both of them…

  11. Kiran Bhalla Says:

    Kiran Bhalla
    31st July 2014

    What a way for such a great actor to go. Still see your movies love you in all of them. R.I. P.

  12. Celine Says:

    I knew nothing about Bill Holden until I watched PICNIC a few weeks ago and now I’m obsessed with him. Gosh he was one sexy man in that dance with Kim Novak. My friends are not happy about always having to hear about Bill Holden in every conversation. lol.

  13. Kiran Bhalla Says:

    William Holden was and is still my favourite actor I still see all his movies over and over again I wish some one who knows him would write something about him his likes and dislikes his habits etc. I have read the book written by Stephanie Powers,She has written more about herself then him
    Could you suggest where I could get
    to read about him

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