Apr 18, 2011

The Story of Audrey Hepburn's deer Pippin (aka "Ip")

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".
Terrier Growls
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."

Beverly Hills, California, 1958: ‘Pippin, the little fawn deer, sleeping in Audrey Hepburn’s arms. It felt safe and secure with Audrey, whose natural inner calmness contributed to this unique relationship. The deer lived with Audrey for weeks before filming would begin on Green Mansions, so it would follow Audrey in the film.’  

So, DorianTB, in the last quote you have a marvelous explanation: Audrey's natural inner calmness contributed to this unique relationship :)

EPILOGUE


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 :

17 comments:

  1. Clara, thank you for sharing the charming story of the lovely Audrey and the enchanting Ip! Your account of the bond between the actress and the deer touched my heart and made me smile, as well as proving all the more that Our Ms. Hepburn was a perfect fit for the role of Rima the Bird Girl! :-) I still remember actually reading GREEN MANSIONS in a Reader's Digest edition when I was a kid. You're very kind to credit me for prompting you to tell this lovely story, and in turn, I'm grateful to you for sharing this wonderful bit of Audrey Hepburn history -- thanks, Clara!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ahhh that is where I read the story .. was trying to remember...

      Delete
  2. I heard once that Audrey eventually gave Pippin up because Mr. Famous was jealous and her lifestyle didn't work well for a pet deer.

    But photos of her & a little Pippin are some of my very favorites -- probably because they are a bit rare. It's always struck me as odd that few Audrey fans seem to know about Pippin at all, and that the full story remains something of a mystery. Thanks for shedding a little light on all of this, Clara!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Emm, Clara, I agree that it's surprising that Pippin -- Ip to her pals :-) -- seems to have been something of a secret to us Audrey Hepburn fans. But hey, these little tidbits are the sort of lore that makes us love her all the more, right? :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I always wondered about the pictures of her with the deer. Thank you for the background info! So interesting. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm glad you enjoyed this post, girls! Thanks a million for sharing your thoughts :)

    Oh, Emm, that's sad :( It was the cutest deer ever!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Those are such sweet photos. I knew she had a deer and it was from "Green Mansions" but I didn't know too much about it.

    Thanks for the beautiful post!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I always wondered about the pictures of her with the deer. Thank you for the background info! So interesting. :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Clara, thank you for sharing the charming story of the lovely Audrey and the enchanting Ip! Your account of the bond between the actress and the deer touched my heart and made me smile, as well as proving all the more that Our Ms. Hepburn was a perfect fit for the role of Rima the Bird Girl! :-) I still remember actually reading GREEN MANSIONS in a Reader's Digest edition when I was a kid. You're very kind to credit me for prompting you to tell this lovely story, and in turn, I'm grateful to you for sharing this wonderful bit of Audrey Hepburn history -- thanks, Clara!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Best thing ever. I really think I am in love with her, and we never get to meet. I just watch her longingly on the screen, and know that she was real.... and that I will likely never truly meet a woman in real life that I could love so naturally. Then I even get a little sad. Oh Audrey. I'd work it out so you could keep the dear. We'd get a house in the country. I could write. You could act. I also like that I just naturally trust her. If I lived back then, I don't think I'd ever have to worry about her cheating on me, no matter how many Gregory Pecks or Gary Coopers or Peter Otooles flew her way. If she ever left me, it would just destroy me. Truly, a light would go out. I suppose the only good news about my living today instead of then is that she can't, after my desprete cross country race to her, eye me as though I am "awfully silly" and walk away, never knowing how much I loved her. If Audrey turned me dow, while I fumbled with my hat and nothing to say, it would likely be the saddest day of my life.

    I feel silly having written that. Oh Audrey, where are you?

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am happy to have learned the story of Pippin, it only adds to Audrey's mystique :) I know she was an animal lover

    ReplyDelete
  11. Love this woman, more for her realness, her "goundedness" & her work as a philanthropist than anything, but after reading the story of Audrey & her Pippin, I love her all the more for her love of animals. She is the epitome of being being beautiful on the outside & on on the inside too, (where we all know, it counts the most.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Love this woman, more for her realness, her "goundedness" & her work as a philanthropist than anything, but after reading the story of Audrey & her Pippin, I love her all the more for her love of animals. She is the epitome of being being beautiful on the outside & on on the inside too, (where we all know, it counts the most.

    ReplyDelete
  13. FYI--- The Venezuelan word for deer is "cha'cha ro"

    ReplyDelete
  14. I LOVE Audrey, but it hurts that I have to share my admiration for her with the rest of the world. I was so young when she passed away, (16) so I never have known the personal pleasure of meeting her. However I am so extremely jealous of any man who got to simply stand in her mere presence, therefore I sincerely detest each and every one of her lovers!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Fascinating story about miss Hepburn and her gentle little pet fawn. Such gentleness is as a rare a commadity today as it was then. But what became of IP?

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...