Grace Patricia Kelly (later Grace, Princess of Monaco; November 12, 1929 – September 14, 1982) was an Academy Award-winning American film and stage actress. Upon marrying Rainier III, Prince of Monaco in 1956, she became Her Serene Highness The Princess of Monaco, but was generally known as Princess Grace of Monaco. Princess Grace maintained dual American and Monegasque citizenship after her marriage. The principality's current Sovereign Prince, Albert II, is the son of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace. The American Film Institute ranked Kelly #13 amongst the Greatest Female Stars of All Time.
In 1925 at Margaret's christening Mary Kelly (Grace's Grandmother) was disappointed that the baby was not named Grace after her last daughter who had passed away of exhaustion whilst skating at a young age. The following year Mary Kelly (Ma Kelly) died and John Sr. vowed that the next girl he had would be named Grace to honor his late mother's wish. On November 12, 1929 John B. Kelly, Sr. honored his mother's wish with the arrival of Grace Patricia Kelly.
John Jr. won the James E. Sullivan Award in 1947 as the top amateur athlete in the country. As a wedding gift, he gave Grace his bronze medal from the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. He was a Philadelphia city councilman, and Kelly Drive there is named for him.
Two of Kelly's uncles (her father's brothers) were prominent in the arts: vaudevillian Walter Kelly and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright George Kelly, who was looked down upon by the family, apart from Grace, because of his homosexuality.
While attending the prestigious Ravenhill Academy, Kelly modeled fashions at local social events with her mother and sisters. At the age of twelve she played a lead role in a play produced by the Old Academy Players in East Falls, called Don't Feed the Animals. During high school, she acted and danced, graduating from Stevens School, a small private school in a mansion on Walnut Lane in Germantown, Philadelphia, in May 1947. Her graduation yearbook listed her favorite actress as Ingrid Bergman; her favorite actor, Joseph Cotten; her favorite summer resort, Ocean City; her favorite drink, a black and white chocolate milkshake; her favorite piece of classical music, Debussy's "Clair de Lune"; her favorite orchestra, Benny Goodman; and her favorite female singer, Jo Stafford. Written in the "Stevens' Prophecy" section was, “Miss Grace P. Kelly - a famous star of stage and screen.”
Television producer Delbert Mann cast Kelly as "Bethel Merriday", an adaptation of the Sinclair Lewis novel of the same name, in her first of nearly sixty live television programs. Success on television eventually brought her a role in a major motion picture. Kelly made her film debut in a small role in the 1951 film Fourteen Hours. The small role led to many offers, all of which she turned down for independence and another chance at the theater. She was performing in Colorado’s notable Elitch Gardens when she received a telegram from Hollywood producer Stanley Kramer, offering her the starring role opposite Gary Cooper in High Noon. According to biographer Wendy Leigh, at age 22 Kelly had an off-set romance with both Cooper and director Fred Zinnemann. High Noon would go to be a popular film of the 1950s.
After the heightened success of Mogambo, Kelly starred in a TV play The Way of an Eagle, with Jean-Pierre Aumont before being cast in the film adaptation of Frederick Knott's Broadway hit Dial M for Murder. Alfred Hitchcock was slated to direct the film and would become one of Kelly's last mentors. Hitchcock also took full advantage of Kelly's virginal beauty on-camera. In a scene in which her character Margot Wendice is nearly murdered, a struggle that breaks out between her and her would-be-killer Tony Dawson clearly accentuates her curves and statuesque figure, which is closely hugged by a flimsy nightgown as she kicks her legs and flails her arms attempting to fight off her killer. Dial M for Murder opened in theaters in May 1954 to both positive reviews and box-office triumph. The role of Margot Wendice was a beginning for Kelly as a poised and confident role-playing actress.
Kelly began filming scenes for her next film, The Bridges at Toko-Ri, in January 1954 with William Holden. The role of Nancy, the cordially wretched wife of naval officer Harry (played by Holden), proved to be a minor but pivotal part of the story. Released in January 1955, The New Yorker wrote of Kelly and Holden's unbridled onscreen chemistry, taking note of Kelly's performance on part "with quiet confidence."
In October 1954, Kelly received a telegram that Alfred Hitchcock had scheduled her a wardrobe fitting with Edith Head, arguably Hollywood's most premier and elite costume designer, for the director's next film, Rear Window. In going forth with the role of Lisa Fremont, Kelly unhesitatingly turned down the opportunity to star alongside Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront, which won her replacement, Eva Marie Saint, an Academy Award. "All through the making of Dial M for Murder, he [Hitchcock] sat and talked to me about Rear Window all the time, even before we had discussed my being in it. Much like the shooting of Dial M for Murder, Kelly and Hitchcock shared a close bond of humor and admiration. Sometimes, however, minor strifes would emerge on set concerning the wardrobe.
"At the rehearsal for the scene in Rear Window when I wore a sheer nightgown, Hitchcock called for Edith Head. He came over here and said, 'Look, the bosom is not right, we're going to have to put something in there.' He was very sweet about it; he didn't want to upset me, so he spoke quietly to Edith. When we went into my dressing room and Edith said, 'Mr. Hitchcock is worried because there's a false pleat here. He wants me to put in falsies.' Well, I said, 'You can't put falsies in this, it's going to show and I'm not going to wear them.' And she said, 'What are we going to do?' So we quickly took it up here, made some adjustments there, and I just did what I could and stood as straight as possible - without falsies. When I walked out onto the set Hitchcock looked at me and at Edith and said, 'See what a difference they make?'"
Kelly's new co-star, James Stewart, was highly enthusiastic about working with her. The role of Lisa Fremont, a wealthy Manhattan socialite and model, was unlike any of the previous women which she had played. For the very first time, she was an independent career woman. Stewart played a speculative photographer with a broken leg, bound to a wheelchair, who is curiously reduced to observing the happenings of tenants outside his window. Kelly is not seen until twenty-two minutes into the movie. Just as he had done earlier, Hitchcock provided the camera with a slow-sequenced silhouette of Kelly, along with a close-up of the two stars kissing and finally lingering closely on her profile. With the film's opening in October 1954, Kelly was yet again praised. Variety's film critic remarked on the casting, commenting about the "earthy quality to the relationship between Stewart and Miss Kelly. Both do a fine job of the picture's acting demands."
Kelly got an Oscar for the role of Bing Crosby's long-suffering wife in The Country Girl, after a pregnant Jennifer Jones bowed out. Already familiar with the play, Kelly was desperate for the part. This meant that, to MGM's dismay, she would have to be loaned out to Paramount. Kelly threatened the studio that she would pack her bags and leave for New York for good. The vanquished studio caved in, and the part was hers. The Country Girl was shot in black and white, surprising an audience that had become accustomed to seeing the blonde in Technicolor.
The film also paired Kelly again with William Holden. The wife of a washed-up alcoholic singer, played by Crosby, Kelly's character is emotionally torn between two lovers. Holden willfully begs Kelly to leave her husband and be with him. A piece of frail tenderness manages to cloak itself inside of her, even after having been demonized by Crosby, describing "a pathetic hint of frailty in a wonderful glowing man. That appeals a lot to us. It did to me. I was so young. His weaknesses seemed touching and sweet, they made me love him more." The following March, Kelly would be honored with the Academy Award for Best Actress. Her character's modest appearance and the film's demanding scenes were a departure from her on-screen persona of the graceful heiress, which she embodied through her last role in High Society, the musical remake of The Philadelphia Story.
In April 1954, Kelly flew to Colombia for a brief 10-day shoot to film her next project, Green Fire, with Stewart Granger. Kelly plays Catherine Knowland, a coffee plantation owner. In Granger's autobiography he writes of his distaste for the film's script, while Kelly later confided to Hedda Hopper, "It wasn't pleasant. We worked at a pathetic village - miserable huts and dirty. Part of the crew got shipwrecked ... It was awful. Green Fire was a critical and box-office failure.
After the back-to-back shooting of Rear Window, Toko-Ri, Country Girl and Green Fire, Kelly flew to France, along with department store heir Bernard "Barney" Strauss, to begin work on her third and final film for Alfred Hitchcock, To Catch a Thief. Kelly and her new co-star, Cary Grant, developed a mutual admiration. The two cherished their time together for the rest of their lives. Years later, when asked to name his all-time favorite actress, Cary replied without hesitation: "Well, with all due respect to dear Ingrid Bergman, I much preferred Grace. She had serenity. The fireworks scene has been the subject of much commentary, as Hitchcock subliminally peppers an undertone of sexual innuendo during the sequence.
Upon returning to America, Kelly began work on The Swan, in which she coincidentally portrayed a princess. Meanwhile, she was privately beginning a correspondence with Rainier. In December, Rainier came to America on a trip officially designated as a tour, although it was speculated that Rainier was actively seeking a wife. A 1918 treaty with France stated that if Rainier did not produce an heir, Monaco would revert to France. At a press conference in the United States, Rainier was asked if he was pursuing a wife, to which he answered "No." A second question was posed, asking, "If you were pursuing a wife, what kind would you like?" Rainier smiled and answered, "I don't know—the best." Rainier met with Kelly and her family, and after three days, the prince proposed. Kelly accepted and the families began preparing for what the press called "The Wedding of the Century." The wedding was set for April 19, 1956.
News of the engagement was a sensation even though it meant the possible end to Kelly's film career. Industry professionals realized that it would have been impractical for her to continue acting and wished her well. Alfred Hitchcock had quipped that he was, "very happy that Grace has found herself such a good part."
Preparations for the wedding were elaborate. The Palace of Monaco was painted and redecorated throughout. The voyage of the American contingent to Monaco was an ordeal. On April 4, 1956, leaving from Pier 84 in New York Harbor, Kelly, with her family, bridesmaids, poodle, and over eighty pieces of luggage boarded the ocean liner SS Constitution for the French Riviera. Some 400 reporters applied to sail, though most were turned away. Thousands of fans sent the party off for the 8 day voyage. In Monaco, more than twenty-thousand people lined the streets to greet the future princess consort.
That same year, MGM released Kelly's final film, the musical comedy High Society (based on the studio's 1940 comedy Philadelphia Story). One highlight of the film was when Kelly sang a duet with Bing Crosby, "True Love," with words and music by Cole Porter.
Kelly's wedding was a 40-minute civil ceremony that took place in the Palace Throne Room, and was broadcast across Europe. To cap the ceremony, the 142 official titles (counterparts of Rainier's) that Kelly acquired in the union were formally recited. The event concluded the following day with the church ceremony at Monaco's Saint Nicholas Cathedral. Kelly's wedding dress, designed by MGM's Academy Award-winning Helen Rose, was worked on for six weeks by three dozen seamstresses. The 600 guests included Hollywood stars David Niven and his wife Hjordis, Gloria Swanson, Ava Gardner, the crowned head Aga Khan, and Conrad Hilton. Frank Sinatra initially accepted an invitation but at the last minute decided otherwise, afraid of upstaging the bride on her wedding day. Queen Elizabeth II flatly refused to attend on the grounds of there being "too many movie stars." The ceremony was watched by an estimated 30 million people on television. The prince and princess left that night for their 7-week Mediterranean cruise honeymoon on Rainier's yacht, Deo Juvante II.
After the marriage, Prince Rainier banned the screening of Kelly's films. Hitchcock offered Kelly the lead in his film Marnie in 1962. She was eager, but public outcry against her involvement made her reconsider and ultimately reject the project. Director Herbert Ross attempted to lure Princess Grace for his 1977 film The Turning Point, but Prince Rainier quashed the idea. Later that year, Kelly returned to the arts in a series of poetry readings on stage and the narration of the documentary The Children of Theater Street. She also narrated ABC's made-for-television film The Poppy Is Also a Flower (1966).
As princess, Kelly was active in improving the arts institutions of Monaco, and eventually the Princess Grace Foundation was formed to support local artisans. She was one of the first celebrities to support and speak on behalf of La Leche League, an organization that advocates breastfeeding; she planned a yearly Christmas party for local orphans, and dedicated a Garden Club that reflected her love of flowers.
In 1981, the Prince and Princess celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.
Kelly and the Shah of Iran became acquainted near the end of 1949 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel during the Shah's official visit to America. Kelly's childhood friend (and later, her bridesmaid) Maree Frisby Rambo said in an interview with biographer Wendy Leigh that Kelly and the Shah had gone on at least six dates. The Shah had been the ruler of Iran since 1941, and was thirty years old at the time. The Shah besieged Kelly with vast amounts of jewellery including: a gold birdcage housing a diamond sapphire bird, a gold vanity case with a clasp set with thirty-two diamonds, and a gold bracelet with an intricate pearl and diamond face. Kelly, however, had no intentions of marrying the Shah, and immediately sent the gifts back. She decided to keep the jewels and later presented the pieces to her bridesmaids as keepsakes on the eve of her wedding. Despite the alleged brutality of the Shah's regime, Kelly fiercely defended him until his death.
During the making of Dial M for Murder, her co-star Ray Milland attempted to seduce her. Milland was 22 years older than she, but just as charming and suave as he was when she swooned over him years earlier as a teenager watching The Lost Weekend. Milland was married to Muriel Milland for thirty years, and the two had a son. Milland assured Kelly that he had left his wife, which she would later find out to have been a lie. After Muriel Milland found out about the alleged affair, she and Ray Milland no longer went on dates and Kelly was branded a homewrecker. Muriel Milland was one of the most popular wives in Hollywood and had the support of many friends, including gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. After Kelly gave a press interview explaining her side of the story, the town seemed to lose interest in the scandal. But it was never proven that Kelly actually succumbed to Milland's advances; in fact, her friends at the time, such as Rita Gam, believed she had little interest in him.
It was reported to the press that Kelly and Bing Crosby met for the first time when they were introduced during the making of The Country Girl. This, however, was untrue. Sue Ladd, the widow of Alan Ladd, told Kelly biographer James Spada that while Bing's then-wife Dixie was battling terminal cancer, Bing and Kelly had been trysting in the Ladds' home. What Kelly didn't know was that by the time filming commenced on The Country Girl, Crosby had already been dating actress Kathryn Grant. Three days before the date scheduled for Crosby's marriage to Grant, he confessed to having had an affair with Kelly and that he no longer wished to marry her. Unbeknownst to Kelly, Bing had continued to express his love for Grant throughout their affair despite Kelly's determination to become Crosby's wife. Crosby later reconciled with Kathryn Grant and proposed to her once again, explaining to her that he had broken off the relationship with Kelly.
In a strange twist of fate, Russian fashion designer Oleg Cassini, having just seen Mogambo earlier that evening, encountered Kelly having dinner at Le Veau d'Or. Cassini, who was raised in Florence, having an abundance of charm and courtliness and whose ex-wife was actress Gene Tierney,(whose was the original choice for the role of Linda Nordley in Mogambo) became just as captivated by Kelly in person as he had previously watching her in the film. Kelly's curiosity was soon piqued when she began receiving a bouquet of red roses every day. Cassini's persistence paid off when Kelly accepted his invitation to lunch, with the provision that she bring her sister Peggy along. Cassini and Kelly became engaged within the first month of meeting. Their desire to marry quickly was later revealed to have been prompted by the fact that she was pregnant. "The couple planned to have a small secret wedding, with Kelly taking time off to have the baby," John Glatt wrote. "But at the last minute she changed her mind. Torn between her devout Catholic upbringing, her movie career and her love of Cassini, Kelly decided she could not risk a scandal. So, instead of going through with the marriage, she had an abortion." When Cassini was asked by Glatt about the abortion, he remained defensive and evasive, commenting that, "It's too delicate a matter. I don't have to answer this and I will make no comment about that. Absolutely no comment. Let people think what they want to think," Cassini explained.
In a 1960s interview, Kelly explained how she had grown to accept the scrutiny as a part of being in the public eye, but expressed concern for her children’s exposure to such relentless scandalmongering. After her death, celebrity biographers chronicled the rumors with renewed enthusiasm.
Interviewed for British television by Michael Parkinson, David Niven recalled an awkward conversation with Prince Rainier in which the latter asked him who had been his most exciting lover. Niven began to say "Grace Kelly," but caught himself in time and answered "Gra..cie Fields." Fortunately, Rainier had never heard of Fields and didn't realise how absurd the suggestion was.
In 1951, the newly famous Kelly took a bold stand against a racist incident involving Black American expatriate singer/dancer Josephine Baker, when the Sherman Billingsley's Stork Club in New York refused Baker as a customer. Kelly, who was dining at the club when this happened, was so disgusted that she rushed over to Baker (whom she had never met), took her by the arm, and stormed out with her entire party, vowing never to return (and she never did). The two women became close friends after that night. A significant testament to their close friendship was made evident when Baker was near bankruptcy, and was offered a villa and financial assistance by Kelly (who by that time had become The Princess of Monaco), and her husband Rainier III of Monaco. The princess also encouraged Baker to return to performing, and financed Baker's triumphant comeback in 1975, attending the opening night's performance.
On September 13, 1982, while driving with her daughter Stéphanie to Monaco from their country home, Princess Grace suffered a stroke, which caused her to drive her Rover P6 off the serpentine road down a mountainside. Princess Grace was pulled alive from the wreckage, but had suffered serious injuries and was unconscious. She died the following day at the Monaco Hospital (renamed Centre Hospitalier Princesse Grace (in English - The Princess Grace Hospital Centre) in 1958), having never regained consciousness. It was initially reported that Princess Stéphanie suffered only minor bruising, although it later emerged that she had suffered a serious cervical fracture. It was rumored that Princess Grace had been driving on the same stretch of highway that had been featured in her 1955 movie To Catch a Thief; but, her son has always denied it.
Princess Grace was buried in the Grimaldi family vault on September 18, 1982, after a requiem mass in Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Monaco. Prince Rainier, who did not remarry after Kelly's death, was buried alongside her following his death in 2005. The 400 guests at the service included representatives of foreign governments and of present and past European royal houses (Diana, Princess of Wales was the only member of the British royal family to attend), as well as several veteran US film stars. Nearly 100 million people worldwide watched her funeral.
In his eulogy, James Stewart said: "You know, I just love Grace Kelly. Not because she was a princess, not because she was an actress, not because she was my friend, but because she was just about the nicest lady I ever met. Grace brought into my life as she brought into yours, a soft, warm light every time I saw her, and every time I saw her was a holiday of its own. No question, I'll miss her, we'll all miss her, God bless you, Princess Grace."
The Princess Grace Foundation was founded in 1964 with the aim of helping those with special needs for whom no provision was made within the ordinary social services. In 1983, following Princess Grace's death, Caroline, Princess of Hanover assumed the duties of President of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation. Albert II, Prince of Monaco is Vice-President.
On June 18, 1984, Prince Rainier inaugurated a public rose garden in Monaco in Princess Grace's memory due to her passion for the flower.
In 1993, Princess Grace became the first U.S. actress to appear on a U.S. postage stamp.
In 2003, 83 years after Olympic Gold Medalist John Kelly, Sr. entry was rejected at the most prestigious rowing event in the world, the Henley Royal Regatta renamed the Women's Quadruple Sculls after his daughter, "Princess Grace Challenge Cup". Princess Grace was invited to give out the prizes at the Henley Royal Regatta in 1981 as a peace offering by the Henley Stewards to put a long conflict (61 years) between the Kelly family and stewards to rest. Kelly's brother John Kelly, Jr. won the Diamond Sculls at the Henly Royal Regatta in 1947 and 1949 as well as a Bronze Medal in the single sculls at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne. In 2004, Kelly's son Prince Albert gave out the prizes at the Henley Royal Regatta.
On April 1, 2006, The Philadelphia Museum of Art presented an exhibition entitled, Fit for a Princess: Grace Kelly's Wedding Dress, that ran through May 21, 2006. The exhibition was in honor of the 50th anniversary of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier's wedding.
To commemorate the 25th anniversary of her death €2 commemorative coins were issued on July 1, 2007 with the "national" side bearing the image of Princess Grace.
Princess Grace's legacy of supporting the arts is realized through the Princess Grace Foundation-USA. Established in 1982, the Foundation's grants program, the Princess Grace Awards, supports emerging artists in theater, dance, and film. As a public charity, the Princess Grace Foundation-USA relies on the support of the general public to provide the funds for its Awards program.
|1951||Fourteen Hours||Louise Ann Fuller||Henry Hathaway||Paul Douglas, Richard Basehart, Barbara Bel Geddes|
|1952||High Noon||Amy Fowler Kane||Fred Zinnemann||Gary Cooper, Katy Jurado, Lloyd Bridges, Thomas Mitchell|
|1953||Mogambo||Linda Nordley||John Ford||Clark Gable, Ava Gardner|
|1954||Dial M for Murder||Margot Mary Wendice||Alfred Hitchcock||Ray Milland, Bob Cummings, John Williams|
|1954||Rear Window||Lisa Carol Fremont||Alfred Hitchcock||James Stewart, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter, Raymond Burr|
|1954||The Country Girl||Georgie Elgin||George Seaton||Bing Crosby, William Holden|
|1954||Green Fire||Catherine Knowland||Andrew Marton||Stewart Granger|
|1954||The Bridges at Toko-Ri||Nancy Brubaker||Mark Robson||William Holden, Fredric March, Mickey Rooney, Earl Holliman|
|1955||To Catch a Thief||Frances Stevens||Alfred Hitchcock||Cary Grant|
|1956||The Swan||Princess Alexandra||Charles Vidor||Alec Guiness|
|1956||High Society||Tracy Samantha Lord||Charles Walters||Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Celeste Holm|
|Golden Globe Award|