January 10, 1994 12:00 PM

by Diana Maychick

In this loving tribute, no one utters an unkind word about Audrey Hepburn except Humphrey Bogart, and Maychick, a former New York Post entertainment columnist who interviewed the actress for nearly nine months before her death last winter, makes it clear there’s something wrong with him for not liking her.

The most intriguing chapters focus on Hepburn’s traumatic childhood in Holland. Her father abandoned his family when Audrey was 6, and for a time they were so poor they survived on tulip bulbs. As a teenager during World War II, Hepburn carried coded messages for the Resistance before her rapid rise from awkward ballerina to overnight sensation.

We learn that the elegant actress thought herself unattractive; that she battled eating disorders and depression through much of her life; that William Holden was her great love; and that she played doormat to her first husband, Mel Ferrar, and rejected spouse to her second husband, Dr. Andrea Dotti. (In 1981 she became involved with Merle Oberon’s former companion, Robert Wolders, with whom she lived until her death.)

The magnetic star, the tireless UNICEF worker, the gushing quotes from pals—it’s all here, plus a string of “beloveds” from Maychick: Hepburn in her beloved Givenchys, tending her beloved lilies, on the arm of her beloved Robbie. This biography cries out for a second opinion and childhood photos. How much more gratifying it would have been, for example, to see Hepburn as a chubby baby, than to hear it from the starstruck author. (Birch Lane. $21.95)

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