Audrey Hepburn

Hepburn in trailer for ”Roman Holiday”, 1953

Birth Name: Audrey Kathleen Ruston

Date of Birth: 4 May, 1929

Place of Birth: Ixelles, Belgium

Date of Death: 20 January, 1993

Place of Death: Tolochenaz, Vaud, Switzerland

*father – English, Czech, one quarter Ashkenazi Jewish
*mother – Dutch [including Frisian], as well as 1/128th French, remote English

Audrey Hepburn was a Belgian-born, Dutch-raised, British actress, model, dancer, and humanitarian. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for Roman Holiday (1953). Her films also include Sabrina (1954), Funny Face, The Nun’s Story, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Charade, My Fair Lady, Wait Until Dark, and Robin and Marian. She appeared in the documentary series Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn. She often worked with UNICEF, and was a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

Audrey’s father, Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston, was born in Úžice/Auschiz, Bohemia, and was of English, Czech, and at least one quarter Ashkenazi Jewish, descent. He was Honorary British Consul in Semarang in the Dutch East Indies, and worked for a trading company and a loan company. He later changed his surname to Hepburn-Ruston, though there is no evidence of a Hepburn name in his family tree. Through him, Audrey was a British citizen.

Audrey’s mother, Ella, Baroness van Heemstra, was Dutch. Audrey’s mother was of almost entirely Dutch descent, including Frisian, and had some remote non-Dutch roots; Audrey’s mother had 1/128th French ancestry, as well as English roots on a similarly distant level. Audrey had stated that she was of half Irish and half Dutch descent, though she was evidently not of Irish ancestry.

Audrey spent time in Belgium, England, and the Netherlands during her childhood, including attending boarding school in Kent, England, in the late 1930s. She was in the Netherlands during WWII, and performed ballet to raise money for the Dutch Resistance. She studied ballet after the war. Audrey had a son, producer and writer Sean Hepburn Ferrer, with her former husband, American actor, director, and producer Mel Ferrer; and a son with her former husband, Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti. Audrey’s granddaughter is model and artist Emma Ferrer.

Audrey was sometimes said to have had some degree of Jewish ancestry on her mother‘s side. This does not appear to be accurate.

Audrey’s paternal grandfather was Victor John George Ruston (the son of Joseph John Ruston and Barbara Victoria Belha). Joseph was English, and is usually stated as having been born in London or in Poplar, near London, the son of John Joseph Ruston and Ann Smith.

Audrey’s paternal grandmother was Anna Juliana/Julianna Franziska/Francisca Karolina/Carolina Wels/Wells/Welsová (the daughter of Johann Anton Wels/Wedeles and Carolina Clara Schütz). Anna was born in Kovarce, south-western Slovakia. Johann was born in Prague, Czechia, the son of Jewish parents, Nathan Wedeles and Judith Julie Porges. Carolina was born in Zářečí, Březová Nad Svitavou, Czechia, the daughter of Karl Wenzel Ignatz Schütz and Franziska Josepha Burschwal.

Audrey’s maternal grandfather was Aarnoud Jan/Johan Anne Aleid, Baron van Heemstra (the son of Willem Hendrik Johan, Baron van Heemstra, and of Wilhelmina/Wilhelmine Cornelia de Beaufort). Aarnoud was born in Vreeland, Utrecht. He was a nobleman, jurist, and politician, who served as mayor of Arnhem, from 1910 to 1920, and Royal Governor of Suriname, twice, between 1921 and 1928. Audrey’s great-grandfather Willem was the son of Frans Julius Johan van Heemstra, Baron van Heemstra, and of Henriëtta Philippina/Philippine Jacoba, Baroness van Pallandt. Wilhelmina was the daughter of Arnoud Jan de Beaufort and Anna Aleida Stoop.

Audrey’s maternal grandmother was Elbrig Wilhelmina/Wilhelmine Henriette, Baroness van Asbeck (the daughter of Gerrit Ferdinand, Baron van Asbeck, and of Caroline/Carolina van Hogendorp/Hoogendorp). Elbrig was born in Almelo, Almelo, Overijssel. Gerrit was the son of Tjalling Minne Watze van Asbeck, tot Bergen en Munsterhausen, and of Elbrig Roos van Bienema. Caroline was the daughter of Graaf Dirk/Willem van Hogendorp/Hoogendorp and Marianne Cathérine van Hogendorp.

One of Audrey’s maternal six times great-grandfathers, Henri Collot D’Escury, was French. One of Audrey’s maternal eight times great-grandfathers, George Clifford, was English. Adurey’s mother had another line of English ancestry on a similarly distant level.

Audrey’s matrilineal line can be traced to her great-great-great-great-great-grandmother, Clara Maria Christoffers.

Sources: Genealogies of Audrey Hepburn –

Information on Audrey’s paternal grandmother, Anna Juliana/Julianna Franziska/Francisca Karolina/Carolina Wels/Wells/Welsová –

Baptismal record of Audrey’s paternal grandmother, Anna Juliana/Julianna Franziska/Francisca Karolina/Carolina Wels/Wells/Welsová –


Curious about ethnicity

156 Responses

  1. andrew says:

    When was this profile updated?

    Carolina Schütz hometown, Březová Nad Svitavou, was populated by Germans in the1800s [Sudeten Germans].

  2. andrew says:

    Btw, a turnaround by People about her mother’s side: from “part Jewish” (article above) to Nazi supporter:

  3. FLASHP01NT says:

    Based on her appearance, IMO, Audrey Hepburn is at least 10-20% Jewish. It’s especially visible in her nose. Additionally, her face has many asian features: including a forward set eye and flat browridge, a lateral flare and a Mesorrhine nose. Based on her own comments: her extended family was of partial Jewish ancestry and her immediate family was forced to lie about their ethnicity to avoid persecution during the holocaust.

    • passingtime85 says:

      The family’s Jewish roots were never confirmed, not even by the Nazis.

    • alexgxo says:

      The only “Asian” features you must be talking about are East Asians. I don’t think you have South Asians and West Asians (i.e – Middle East minus Egypt) in mind when talking about “Asian features”. And even then, there are many Native American or Polynesians who have “Asiatic” features.

      I don’t think she ever claimed to have Jewish ancestry while alive. She stated she was half-Irish and half-Dutch, but the Irish ancestry doesn’t seem to true. And the claims of her mother’s side being part-Jewish were just rumours. Rather, her father was the one with likely part-Jewish ancestry.

      Interestingly, Lily Collins has always been compared to her and they’re both a quarter Jewish and have British Isles/Germanic ancestry. Plus, they both have British citizenship.

      • andrew says:

        It’s possibile than her father had some family roots in Ireland. There were plenty of English people in Ireland (called Anglo-Irish).

    • andrew says:


      She is 12,5% Jewish so you were right

  4. jonasbttencourt says:

    I would put just german instead of this “Austrian and/or German” mess. Austrians have almost always been ethnically german, especially back in the day (in this case, Audrey’s recent ancestry). Austrians who are non-german ethnically are still a minority today, and were even smaller then. It’s the same case of the whole “northern Irish” business, it’s pretty much just scottish people living in Ireland. Austrians, for the most time, are just germans living in a smaller, cozier spot nearby their homeland.

    • andrew says:

      When will you stop trolling European citizens? Get back to the favela.

      • jonasbttencourt says:

        Ownn you are adorable, im afraid i can’t “go back to the favela” since i never been to one, see, if this was suppose to be a joke, i must they you that it did not worked, you just came across as an overly emotional, ignorant xenofobe who just can’t stand others outside your little echo chamber having the right to an opinion. You, and the other members of my fan club on this site can keep crying again, and again, and again. Nobody is gonna intimidate me or insult me out of this site, i will keep posting comments whenever i want. The completely gratuitous insults from you and others that i suffer on this site basically every time i post something mildly provocative (especially in regards to the “immaculate” europeans) really shows that i am not the troll here at all. This type of behavior serves as a remider of the everlasting prejudice that north america and europe always held against the lower half of the world. I only hope that you guys can read history a little more and try to be happier, instead of this bunch of bitter, aggressive, and bigoted young men.

      • md65 says:

        jonas says a lot of bull—-, but that’s xenophobia. tone down.

      • angiemorton says:


  5. Gavinboi says:

    Might be a better clearer to read if parent specific::

    *father – English, Austrian/German, possibly Czech
    *mother – Dutch [including Frisian], as well as 1/256 French, remote English

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