Yesterday one of my lovely readers, DorianTB, asked me:
How did Audrey Hepburn manage to tame her deer to the point that the critter was docile enough to lie on the couch with her? :-)Yes, she's referring to the fawn you see on my header right now (update: changed the header; the referred picture is the second in this post). Well, I had seen many pictures of Audrey and the little deer, but never quite thought about the special bond between them. So, guess what? Everything you always wanted to know about the fawn, next:
AUDREY MEETS PIPPIN
In 1958, Audrey was shooting Green Mansions, directed by her (then) husband, Mel Ferrer. In the film, Audrey plays Rima, a girl living in the Venezuelan jungle. This girl is really connected with nature and a fawn follows her everywhere. Well, in real life, the fawn was called Pippin and the trainer suggested that Audrey take the animal home with her to get to know each other. The actress nicknamed the baby fawn "Ip" and started taking care of her. For example, she mixed pabulum and milk and fed her with a baby bottle. Soon, the 3-foot-high pet was following her everywhere.
THE STORY IN THE MEDIA
The reporters of the time, covering the shooting of Green Mansions, noticed the bond between the famous actress and the little animal. Harrison Carrol wrote for the newspaper The Day:
"When I talked to her [Audrey] on the set, she was petting the fawn that will work with her in the film. It's a cute little thing. It lay contentedly in her arms, kept nuzzling her neck and trying to lick her cheek". (Sep 15, 1958)
Vernon Scott, UPI writer, even dedicated a whole article to the subject. The Bulletin, for example, entitled Scott's story as "Co-star wins heart of Audrey Hepburn" (Sep 10, 1958), but the Oxnard Press Courier printed the full article:
(...) The diminutive actress cuddles the animal as if it were a child. In return, "IP" (Audrey's name for the fawn) bathes her face with kisses and runs to her side when she calls.
"I've fallen in love with her", Audrey said, holding IP in her lap between takes. "Lord knows what I'll do when the picture (Green Mansions) is over and they take her away".
Ip fell to chewing on Audrey's blouse. She set the fawn down on her dressing room floor and the 3-foot-high pet proceeded to dampen the rug.
Audrey wasn't fazed, but her Yorkshire terrier, Famous, growled from a neutral corner. His nose was definitely out of joint, but Audrey soothed him with a pat on the head.
"They get along pretty well," she said. "And Mel is just as crazy about IP as I am."
Audrey referred to her husband Mel Ferrer who is directing his wife in the picture.
"At the end of the day we all ride home together," she continued, "We have a two-seat sports car. Mel drives, Famous sits between us and IP falls asleep in my lap. She has the run of the house and garden at home: I feed her with a baby bottle. IP doesn't have any teeth yet, but she loves to nibble on everything."
Learning from IP
Audrey drew a large plastic knitting needle from her purse and IP chomped on it contentedly. "I've been working for years and living in small apartments, so I could never own pets. Now I'd like to have dozens, but we still travel a great deal and Famous is as much as I can handle."
"Ip is a European deer. When she is fully grown she will stand only four feet high, and she'll be pure white. Fortunately Ip is a wonderful actress. In all our scenes she behaves beautifully -- never more than two takes and most of the times she comes through the very first time."
"I don't have any children of my own," Audrey said wistfully, "But I'm learning a lot from IP." It was time for the star to return to the set. When she left the dressing room she called "Here, IP, IP, IP" and the leggy little fawn trotted after her.
THE PHOTOGRAPHER REMEMBERS
But we wouldn't picture this story if it wasn't for a man called Bob Willoughby, a photographer for LIFE magazine. He accompanied Audrey on the set of many films and Green Mansions was one of them. On 2008 The NY Daily News published an article about the book Remembering Audrey, which features Willoughby's work. And he remembered the little fawn. He wrote in the book that "It was truly amazing to see Audrey with that fawn" and:
|"While Audrey's maid had been told about the little deer, she could not believe her eyes seeing Ip sleeping with Audrey so calmly. She was shaking her head and just kept smiling."|
|"Beverly Hills habitués are fairly blasé about what they see, but Audrey being followed around town by this lovely creature stopped everyone in their tracks."|
So, DorianTB, in the last quote you have a marvelous explanation: Audrey's natural inner calmness contributed to this unique relationship :)
The information about how the story ended for the two friends is confusing. Some say they separated and some say that Audrey and Mel kept the fawn. My take is this: after Green Mansions was finished (end of 1958), Audrey and Pippin had to part ways. Audrey was heartbroken.
She started shooting Huston's The Unforgiven, but on January 28, 1959, she was thrown of a horse and suffered two fractured vertebrae (read my post about Audrey and the horse Guipago). Sadly, two months after this accident, on May, she suffered a miscarriage and was confined to bed. She was feeling very depressed, so Mel Ferrer brought Ip to cheer her up and to keep as a pet. They made a bed for him out of a bathtub.
Hope you enjoyed this cute story! If you have more details to share, don't hesitate and leave a comment :)
More pictures of Audrey and Ip :