- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 3, 2002

TOLOCHENAZ, Switzerland The family of Audrey Hepburn, the Hollywood star famed for her beauty and elegance, has demanded the closure of a museum in her hometown, which they say is cheapening her memory and attempting to cash in on her name.
The actress' two sons say an exhibition in Tolochenaz, Switzerland, which was intended to highlight their mother's international charity work and support good causes, has instead become a ghoulish shrine along the lines of Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley.
Sean Ferrer, Miss Hepburn's son by her marriage to the actor Jose Ferrer, and his half-brother, Luca Dotti, say the town, which was their mother's home for the last 30 years of her life, has used the exhibition to boost its own tourist trade.
They have demanded the return of dozens of her personal belongings, including private letters, photographs and her Academy Award for "Roman Holiday," which were on loan to the Pavilion museum.
The museum is situated opposite La Paisible, the vine-covered house where Miss Hepburn lived until her death in 1993, and has attracted about 25,000 visitors since it opened six years ago.
In addition to the items lent by her children, it houses a collection of outfits, among them the famous black dress she wore as Holly Golightly in the 1962 film "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and items connected with her long-term work as a United Nations goodwill ambassador.
Mr. Ferrer, a film producer based in Los Angeles, said he and his brother had been supportive of the idea that an exhibition should be used to raise funds for causes his mother was passionate about, in particular, the United Nations.
He said, however, that in its eagerness to attract visitors, the town, which is in the foothills of the Alps and overlooks Lake Geneva, had lost sight of the inspiration for the exhibition.
"This is not Graceland," he said. "Tolochenaz was a place where my mother could be like everyone else, go to the market, go shopping and be treated like a normal person, not running from the paparazzi all the time."
Mr. Ferrer, 43, added: "Our intention had nothing to do with promoting the village or promoting our mother. I think the celebrity aspect of being visited by thousands of people a year the Hollywood devil got to them."
The family is furious about the sale of souvenirs, including greetings cards with prints of Miss Hepburn's childhood drawings and locally produced Audrey Hepburn jam. Franca Price, the director of the Pavilion, said the museum had raised thousands of dollars for the children's charities that Miss Hepburn supported.
"The bottom line is that we're extremely disappointed by this decision. From all the comments in the visitors' book and beautiful letters, I can only say that the Pavilion added greatly to the respect people feel for Audrey Hepburn," she said.
Residents say the Pavilion was created in response to demand after the star's death at age 63 from cancer in the town in 1993. They recall a stream of tourists who would take photographs of La Paisible, and leave flowers and notes on her grave.
Last year Miss Hepburn's sons insisted that road signs pointing the way to a grave should be removed from a public highway. They also blocked a plan to name a local road in her honor after they made it known that it was not what she would have wanted.
Miss Hepburn, who starred in such classic films as "My Fair Lady" and "Charade," worked as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations' International Children's Emergency Fund.
Her last film appearance was as an angel in Steven Spielberg's 1989 film "Always."

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide