Always an odds-on MVP

Times Staff Writer

Super Bowl? How could anyone possibly be interested in oversized, sweaty men butting heads when AMC is offering an Audrey Hepburn marathon at the same time?

"Breakfast at Tiffany's," "Roman Holiday," "Sabrina," "My Fair Lady" and other Hepburn hits will be broadcast throughout Super Bowl Sunday, so why not gather some friends for an all-about-Audrey party? Here are suggestions for ways to kick-start the fun.

Costumes

If your friends are up for it, invite them to dress as characters from Hepburn films. You never know who will put on a Chanel suit and sweep their hair up to be Holly Golightly or unearth some Cockney finery, including raggedy dress, lace-trimmed hat and fingerless gloves, to be Eliza Doolittle. Costumes for the title character from "Sabrina" or Nicole Bonnet from "How to Steal a Million" would be the easiest to pull off. Just don some classy '50s or '60s ingenue wear: tight skirts, capri pants, perky scarves and flashy costume jewelry. Guys might come as Henry Higgins, wearing cardigans and carrying pipes. Or drive up on a Vespa dressed as Joe Bradley from "Roman Holiday": vintage suit or jacket and slacks.

If full-on costumes seem too much, suggest guests dress retro and you provide the accessories. Fill a big plastic bowl with cat's eye glasses, cigarette holders fitted with candy cigarettes, fedoras and rhinestone tiaras.

Decor

Gussy up your front door with a star and the name "Miss Hepburn" across the top. Lay a red carpet in the entry and station someone to snap photos with a disposable camera as each "star" enters. As for the room, go for glamour. Hepburn was a true blueblood, the daughter of an English banker and a Dutch baroness. Shine with glitter or acrylic crystals and candles on the buffet table. Arrange fresh or silk tulips in vases: During World War II Hepburn was so hungry she ate tulip bulbs; by 1990, after nearly four decades as a major celebrity, a breed of tulip was named for her.

As party favors, print out Internet pictures of Hepburn or give something inexpensive but fashion-forward to take home, like trial-size lipsticks in hip shades or evening bags or gloves from a 99-cent store.

Food

Serve chocolates in honor of her native Belgium and Eliza Doolittle, who loved them. Otherwise, make it easy on yourself, because you won't want to be warming cheese puffs when you could be watching her on TV. Get takeout or make it a potluck affair, but theme the food according to her movies.

For "Roman Holiday," pour red wine or Asti and lay out an Italian buffet. For "My Fair Lady," make it an English tea party with scones, sandwiches and sweets or serve ales and pub fare, fish and chips, meat pies, an English cheeses tray. If your favorite film is "Breakfast at Tiffany's," that's a no-brainer: European roast coffee, bagels, lox, doughnuts, quiche, fruit -- any and all breakfast foods. But no danish; Hepburn didn't care for it, and that made shooting the opening scene of "Tiffany's" a challenge for her.

Games

If guests are dressing up, have a costume contest. If not, the party will be a perfect time to test your guests' knowledge of Audrey trivia. The Google search engine turns up 793 Web sites devoted to the star's life and works. Hand out a quiz at the beginning of the party and have a couple of guests volunteer to judge toward the end. Award a bottle of sparkling wine, a "My Fair Lady" soundtrack CD or an Audrey video to the winner.

Fitting Tribute

Hepburn loved children. According to the Internet Movie Database, she fell in love with William Holden during the filming of "Sabrina" but didn't marry him because he couldn't have kids. Eventually she married Mel Ferrer and they had a son, Sean H. Ferrer. She had another son, Luca Dotti, with her second husband, Andrea Dotti.

But there were many more children in her life. She served as an ambassador for the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund from 1988 until her death. A bronze sculpture dedicated to her was unveiled last May at the UNICEF House in New York City and she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992, largely for her work with UNICEF.

If you and your friends are feeling generous, take up a collection and make a small gift to her favorite charity. Log on to www.supportunicef.org or www.unicef.org to find out how to help.

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'Absolutely Audrey'

Broadcast times for AMC's "Absolutely Audrey" marathon Sunday:

"Funny Face," 1 p.m.

"Breakfast at Tiffany's," 3:10 p.m.

"Sabrina," 5:35 p.m. and 4:15 a.m.

"My Fair Lady," 8 p.m.

"Roman Holiday," 11:20 p.m.

"How to Steal a Million," 1:45 a.m.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Audrey Hepburn

Born: May 4, 1929, in Brussels, Belgium

Died: Jan. 20, 1993, in Tolochenaz, Switzerland

Languages: English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Italian, Flemish

Turned down roles: in "Gigi," "The Turning Point" and "The Diary of Anne Frank." (She thought it would bring back too many painful memories of life in Holland during World War II; she had witnessed Nazis executing people in the streets and herding Jews onto railroad cars bound for death camps.)

Studied ballet: on scholarship in London.

Sang: in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "Funny Face," but her voice was dubbed (by Marni Nixon) in "My Fair Lady." She fought to keep "Moon River" from being cut from "Tiffany" and was upset about not singing in "My Fair Lady."

Salary: She was paid $12,500 for "Roman Holiday" and $15,000 for "Sabrina," while co-stars William Holden and Humphrey Bogart made $150,000 and $300,000, respectively. But for "My Fair Lady," she earned $1.1 million, while Rex Harrison received $250,000.

Academy Awards: Gregory Peck insisted she get prominent billing for her first major role, in "Roman Holiday," correctly predicting she would win the best actress Oscar in 1953. In 1993, she received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award posthumously. She received four other Oscar nominations.

Miscast: Hepburn felt she was miscast as Holly Golightly; Truman Capote had originally envisioned Marilyn Monroe in the role.

Source: Internet Movie Database

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