Publisher's Letter

updated 01/01/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/01/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

There have been special PEOPLE issues devoted to everything from the Desert Storm campaign to the 50 Most Beautiful People, but this tribute to Audrey Hepburn is the first ever to commemorate a single movie star. This newsstand special appears just one week after PEOPLE dedicated its cover story to Hepburn's life and tragic death of cancer at age 63. But it was soon apparent to the staff—agonizing over which bits of information to include, which wonderful photographs would have to fall on the editing room floor—that even a cover story couldn't do full justice to this extraordinary woman. Her rich personal history included a childhood growing up in Nazi-occupied Holland and her humanitarian efforts to bring hope and comfort to the world's suffering children. And, of course, undiminished by her retirement from Hollywood, or even by time, there was that endlessly photogenic beauty. If only we had more pages—or better, an entire magazine.

The idea, it turned out, had already been discussed: to pool all PEOPLE'S resources and turn out, for the right person, at the right time, a showcase of memories, a collector's issue. "Hepburn is an international personality—famous, admired, well-liked. When we saw the spectacular pictures of her piled up on the layout table," says managing editor Landon Y. Jones, "we knew—this is the one."

Assistant managing editor Susan Toepfer, senior editor Charles Leerhsen, deputy art director Hillie Pitzer and associate picture editor Maddy Miller combed through thousands of photos of Hepburn to create a worthy tribute. "She was so beautiful," says associate publisher Jeremy Koch, "you can't not want to look through the issue, to see that ethereal quality."

Turning out a special edition in nine days is a less gossamer concept, as a crew of 45 working around the clock discovered. "I was amazed at the number of people who volunteered to work on this," says Toepfer, who oversaw the issue, "coming in over the weekend, putting in ungodly hours" and—as they surveyed the Hollywood career, remembered the romances and debated the essence of Hepburn—falling in love with her all over again.

PEOPLE will donate the first $100,000 from newsstand sales of this special issue to UNICEF in recognition of Hepburn's work with that agency. Readers who would also like to contribute may send their donations to the Audrey Hepburn Memorial Fund, U.S. Committee for UNICEF, 333 East 38th Street, New York, N.Y. 10016. Phone: 1-800-FOR-KIDS.

From Our Partners