While Audrey Hepburn may have been praised for her effortlessly slim figure, her son recently revealed the truth behind the star's thinness.
While we assumed that Hepburn's ballet training kept her so slender, her youngest son Luca Dotti, 45, writes in his new book, Audrey at Home: Memories of My Mother's Kitchen, that the star's physique was the result of malnourishment. In an interview with People, Dotti said:
%shareLinks-quote="From the time she was 9 to 16, during World War II, she was extremely malnourished. The time she most needed nourishment, she didn't have enough food." type="quote" author="Luca Dotti" authordesc=""%
In an excerpt of his book, Dotti further explains how his mother came to be so malnourished. He writes:
"When the Nazis locked down Holland in 1944, they called it the Winter of Hunger and my mom didn't have enough to eat. Almost to the point of her body failing."
Hepburn survived that troubling time by eating endive and tulip bulbs that she dug herself. She took to reading to distract herself from the constant hunger. Dotti writes:
"She would spend entire days in bed with a book, thus hoping to expel from her mind obsessive thoughts about food."
By the time she was 16 years old, Hepburn weighed only 88 points at 5-foot-6. Because she was extremely underweight, the star suffered many illnesses and unhealthy side effects. Dotti writes:
"She suffered from asthma, jaundice, and other illnesses caused by malnutrition including acute anemia and a serious form of edema which Mum explained like this: 'It begins with your feet and when it reaches your heart, you die. With me, it was above the ankles when I was liberated.'"
The actress remained thin for the rest of her life despite eating much more in adulthood. Dotti notes that his mother always had a plate of spaghetti al pomodoro when she arrived home from a trip. She often consumed large portions. While she had a naturally small frame, her childhood malnourishment likely contributed to her slim physique as an adult.
Click through this slideshow to see pictures of Audrey Hepburn throughout the years:
Watch this video to find out more secrets literature reveals about Audrey Hepburn: