By Zachary Solomon
(JTA) Legend has it that during the Nazi occupation of Holland, a teenaged Audrey Hepburn slipped through the streets as a courier, relaying documents and money between groups of resistance fighters—all while withering from malnourishment due to the German blockage of food imports.
But what isn’t legend is that her parents were Nazi-sympathizers.
Indeed, the American Film Institute’s third Greatest Female Star of All Time was born to British and Dutch semi-royalty: Joseph Ruston and Baroness Ella van Heemstra, card-carriers of the British Union of Fascists who found common ground with Nazi ideology.
In 1935, when Hepburn was six, her mother attended the Nuremberg rally, and detailed her account with great enthusiasm for the fascist paper The Blackshirt.
“We…have heard the call of Fascism,” she wrote, “and have followed the light on the upward road to victory.”
Her father was no better. In 1938, Ruston was investigated by the British House of Commons for receiving money from Germans tied to Joseph Goebbels to start a newspaper. Eventually he was jailed as an enemy of the state for the duration of the war.
Though Hepburn denounced her parents’ ideology, Hepburn maintained contact with both of them until their deaths. Children of fascists take note: you don’t have to do as your parents do.