What Happened When Katie Met Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Breakfast at Tiffany's


“I really felt like I was in the presence of royalty.”

Anyone who loves Katie knows how much she loves Audrey Hepburn! (So much so that she held her 50th birthday party at Tiffany’s, as a tribute.) Today, on the 60th anniversary of the premiere of Breakfast at Tiffany’s — the 1961 film that turned Audrey into an international icon — Katie shares a memory of meeting this elegant actress for the first time in person.

One of my favorite people to interview (on a very, very long list) was definitely Audrey Hepburn.

She was in New York City to receive the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Chaplin Award and stopped by the Today Show that morning. I was a huge admirer of hers — I loved her in Sabrina, Funny Face, Roman Holiday, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Wait Until Dark. 

The morning she walked into the studio, she took my breath away. She was as exquisitely beautiful and elegant as you might expect, but it was her warmth and graciousness that really bowled me over. She walked around and shook everyone’s hand — every single person, from the cameraman to the production assistant. I really felt that I was in the presence of royalty. She was that captivating.  

I also deeply admired her work with UNICEF. When it was announced that I’d be serving as a UNICEF ambassador, she sent me a beautiful card that she hand-painted, along with a lovely note, which I framed and have hanging in my house. 

When she died of cancer in 1993, I was overcome with grief. We ran a tribute to her on the show, and I was so choked up, Bryant [Gumbel] had to take over and throw to commercial after the piece ran. I was just so heartsick. Every time I watch an Audrey Hepburn movie, I think of how honored I was to have witnessed her magic in person.

And watch the #SeeHer video tribute (narrated by Katie, of course) to Audrey, right here: