Born12 November 1929
Died14 September 1982
Who is Grace Kelly?
Grace Kelly was a renowned actress who later on went onto become the Princess of Monaco. She was born in Philadelphia, to parents who were self-made and earned recognition in their respective professions. Grace had an innate interest for acting and from her early childhood she dreamt of becoming an actress. However, her family did not approve of acting and modelling as a career, and she had to embark on this journey all by herself. She managed to enrol at the ‘American Academy of Dramatic Arts’ and after completing her course at the institute, she joined the Broadway. She had acting skills but she did not succeed at the Broadway. Soon she realised her true calling and made a shift in career by opting for roles in television. Her talent did not go unnoticed and she was soon offered roles in movies. Her first lead role was in the film ‘High Noon’ where she was cast alongside Gary Cooper. Eventually, she climbed the ladder of success and marked her position in the film industry. However, when she was at the zenith of her career, she entered the wedlock with Prince Rainier III of Monaco. She then became the Princess of Monaco and with the title came many responsibilities and obligations, owing to which she had to forget her acting career.
About Her Infancy and Early Years
On November 12, 1929, Grace Patricia Kelly was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to wealthy parents John B. Kelly, Sr. and Margaret Katherine Majer. Her father was a self-made millionaire, and also three times Olympic gold medallist in sculling. Her father made a fortune from ownership of a successful east coast construction company.
Grace had two sisters Margaret (Peggy), Elizabeth and a brother John. John followed in the athletic footsteps of his father competing in the 1948, 1952 and 1956 Olympics. He won a bronze medal in rowing 1956. Despite the sporting prowess of her family, Grace was never really interested in sport being more interested in acting and modelling. Although she did not fit seamlessly into her family, she later expressed gratitude to her parents for their open-mindedness and inspiration to aim for perfection.
She received education from institutions such as ‘Ravenhill Academy’ and ‘Stevens School’. During her school days, she participated in many fashion events and also acted in a few plays.
Her father was initially disappointed, believing acting to be a poor second choice for his daughter. Though ironically, Jack Kelly had two brothers – Walter and George Kelly (Grace’s uncles) who made an impact in cinema and drama. George Kelly won the Pulitzer Prize for drama for his comedy-drama The Show Off (1924-25), however, he became estranged from his family due to his homosexuality.
In 1947, Kelly gained admission to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York (helped through the influence of her uncle George).
In October 1947, she began her acting studies, diligently practising in her room at night; she would frequently use a tape recorder to practise her voice. She stayed at a local women’s hostel in Manhattan, and gaining little financial support from her parents, supplemented her income through taking on modelling jobs with the John Robert Powers modelling agency. She had begun part-time modelling since she was 12, and was frequently in demand for her photogenic good looks, poise and blonde hair. She was reported to be one of the highest paid models in New York at the time.
Grace Kelly's Career
She made her Broadway debut aged 19, in The Father, by Strindberg. Her stage productions attracted the attention of TV producers, who were beginning to branch out in the post-war golden era of TV drama. Delbert Mann chose Kelly to play Bethel Merriday, a drama adoption of a Sinclair Lewis novel. Kelly exposure on TV and the stage led to offers of roles in films. Her first film role was a minor part in Fourteen Hours (1951). The film gained Kelly little critical interest, however, the famous actor Gary Cooper was taken with the young and charming actress, stating that he felt she had something special that other actresses didn’t. With Cooper’s recommendation, she gained her first big role co-starring in High Noon (1952), with Gary Cooper himself.
In 1952, she got her major breakthrough into Hollywood when she starred opposite actor Gary Cooper in the film ‘High Noon’. This film earned her huge acclamation as well as a seven-year contract with the media company ‘Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’ (MGM).
The following year, she worked in the film ‘Mogambo’ along with actors Clark Gable and Ava Gardner. In this film her acting was critically acclaimed and even won her a ‘Golden Globe Award’.
She then worked in a television play ‘The Way of an Eagle’ and soon after, she earned a role in director Alfred Hitchcock’s film ‘Dial M for Murder’ which was based on Frederick Knott’s play by the same name. Her next project was ‘The Bridges at Toko-Ri’ where she worked with actor William Holden.
In 1954, she worked in the film ‘Rear Window’ which was her second collaboration with director Alfred Hitchcock. The same year, she worked in the film ‘The Country Girl’ where she played the role of Georgie Elgin. The film also cast Bing Crosby and William Holden.
She starred in the film ‘Green Fire’ in 1954, directed by Andrew Marton. The following year, she worked in the film ‘To Catch a Thief’ which was released in 1955, and this too was directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
Kelly abandoned acting while she was at the pinnacle of her career. Her marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco obliged her to renounce the American citizenship and her works were banned in her adopted homeland.
Marriage to Prince Rainier III
In 1955, she met the Prince of Monaco – Prince Rainier III whilst visiting the principality as part of the Cannes Film Festival. Later in December 1955, Prince Rainer visited America and again met with Grace Kelly. After meeting her family and spending just three days with Grace Kelly, he proposed marriage – which Kelly accepted.
The marriage would effectively end Grace Kelly’s film career because marrying into European Royalty, she would undertake many new Royal duties, which precluded being a film star. Kelly had mixed emotions about retiring as an actor. Part of her disliked the Hollywood treadmill, (she had turned down some lucrative film options).
Princess Grace of Monaco
The wedding took place on April 19, 1956, and was dubbed the “Wedding of the Century” generating intense media interest and speculation. Kelly’s family had to provide $2 million as a dowry to marry Prince Rainier.
The marriage gave Kelly 142 titles (counterparts of her husband’s). Titles which were read out in the ceremony. The title most used was Princess Grace of Monaco; she also received the title “‘Her Serene Highness The Princess of Monaco”.
The wedding ceremony was attended by many of the greatest celebrities of the day and was watched by record viewing figures on TV. 20,000 people lined the streets of Monaco to see the couple.
Her final film ‘High Society’ (1956) was released that year – filmed during her engagement.
The couple had three children – Caroline, Princess of Hanover; Albert, (current ruler of the Principality of Monaco) and Princess Stephanie.
Tragedy struck on September 13, 1982, when Princess Grace and her younger daughter were driving along the steep cliffs of the Côte d'Azur region of southern France. She suffered a stroke and lost control of the vehicle, which spun off the cliff's edge and plunged down a 45-foot embankment. Mother and daughter were rushed to a hospital, where Princess Grace spent 24 hours in a coma before being taken off life support, at the age of 52. Princess Stéphanie suffered a hairline fracture of a vertebra but survived the crash.
Grace Kelly remained in the public eye for most of her life. Her on-screen beauty, self-confidence and mystery enchanted the world, and her serenity and poise as a princess piqued the media's attention. Of this attention, she remarked with typical humor and grace, "The freedom of the press works in such a way that there is not much freedom from it."
Shortly after her death, The Grace Kelly Story (1983) aired as a TV movie, starring Cheryl Ladd. Years later, Nicole Kidman took on the role of the Hollywood icon turned princess in the biopic Grace of Monaco (2014).
Awards, Achievements & Legacy
In 1954, she became a recipient of the ‘Golden Globe Award’ in the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ category. The same year, she won the ‘Academy Award’ for the film ‘The country Girl’ in the ‘Best Actress’ category.
Her role in the films ‘Dial M For Murder’, ‘Rear Window’, and ‘The Country Girl’, she was awarded the ‘New York Film Critics Circle Award’ in the Best Actress category.
After her marriage she abandoned her acting career and embarked into philanthropic works.
She founded the charitable organization named ‘AMADE Mondiale’ which was also recognized by the UN as an NGO.
In 1964, she established the ‘Princess Grace Foundation’ to help the local craftsmen. She was also a supporter of the organization ‘La Leche League’ which promotes breastfeeding.
On 13th September, 1982, this Princess of Monaco breathed her last, when she met with an accident on her way back to Monaco from her residence located in Roc Agel. The hospital where she was admitted was later renamed after her, as ‘The Princess Grace Hospital Centre’.
“I’ve been accused of being cold, snobbish, distant. Those who know me well know that I’m nothing of the sort. If anything, the opposite is true. But is it too much to ask to want to protect your private life, your inner feelings?”
“Emancipation of women has made them lose their mystery.”
“I would like to be remembered as a person who did her job well. An understanding, kind and decent human being.”
“Getting angry doesn't solve anything.”
“For to have complete satisfaction from flowers you must have time to spend with them.”
“You don't get anything for nothing. Everything has to be earned, through work, persistence and honesty.”
“I would like to be remembered as someone who accomplished useful deeds, and who was a kind and loving person.”
“It was thanks to Alfred Hitchcock that I understood that murder scenes should be shot like love scenes and love scenes like murder scenes.”