American actress and Princess consort of Monaco. In April 1956 Kelly married Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, and became styled as Her Serene Highness The Princess of Monaco, and was commonly referred to as Princess Grace.
After embarking on an acting career in 1950, at the age of 20, Grace Kelly appeared in New York City theatrical productions as well as in more than forty episodes of live drama productions broadcast during the early 1950s Golden Age of Television. In October 1953, with the release of Mogambo, she became a movie star, a status confirmed in 1954 with a Golden Globe Award and Academy Award nomination as well as leading roles in five films, including The Country Girl, in which she gave a deglamorized, Academy Award-winning performance. She retired from acting at 26 to enter upon her duties in Monaco. She and Prince Rainier had three children: Caroline, Albert, and Stéphanie. She also retained her American roots, maintaining dual US and Monégasque citizenships. She died on September 14, 1982, two months before her 53rd birthday, when she lost control of her automobile and crashed after suffering a stroke. Her daughter Princess Stéphanie, who was in the car with her, survived the accident. In June 1999, the American Film Institute ranked her #13 in their list of top female stars of American cinema.
A native of Philadelphia, Grace Kelly was born to John Brendan "Jack" Kelly (October 4, 1889–June 20, 1960), and his wife, Margaret Katherine Majer (December 13, 1898–January 6, 1990). The newborn was named in memory of her father's sister, who had died at a young age. She was raised Catholic by her Irish Democrat parents. Before her marriage, Margaret Majer studied physical education at Temple University and later became the first woman to head the Physical Education Department at the University of Pennsylvania. Jack Kelly was a local hero as a triple Olympic-gold-medal-winning sculler, and subsequently became a self-made millionaire, with his brick business rising to prominence as the largest such enterprise on the East Coast. Registering as a Democrat, he obtained the party's nomination for mayor in the 1935 election and lost by the closest margin for any Democrat in the city's electoral history. In later years, he served on the Fairmount Park Commission and, during World War II, was appointed by President Roosevelt as National Director of Physical Fitness.
When Grace was born, the Kellys already had two children, Margaret Katherine, known as Peggy (June 13, 1925–November 23, 1991) and John Brendan, Jr., known as Kell (May 24, 1927–May 2, 1985). Another daughter, Elizabeth Anne, known as Lizanne (June 25, 1933–November 24, 2009), was born three and a half years after Grace.
At Margaret's baptism in 1925, Jack Kelly's mother, Mary Costello Kelly, expressed her disappointment that the baby was not named Grace in memory of her last daughter who died young. Upon his mother's death the following year, Jack Kelly resolved that his next daughter would bear the name and, three years later, with the arrival of Grace Patricia in November 1929, his late mother's wish was honored.
Following in his father's athletic footsteps, John Jr. won in 1947 the James E. Sullivan Award as the country's top amateur athlete. Also, similar to his father's gold medals in rowing at the 1920 and 1924 Summer Olympics, he competed in the sport at the 1948, 1952 and the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne where, on November 27, seven months after his sister's Monaco wedding, he won a bronze medal, which he gave to her as a gift of the occasion. He also served as a city councilman and Philadelphia's Kelly Drive is named for him.
Two of Grace Kelly's uncles were prominent in the arts; her father's eldest brother, Walter C. Kelly (1873–1939), was a vaudeville star whose nationally known act, The Virginia Judge, was filmed as a 1930 MGM short and a 1935 Paramount feature, and another older brother, George Kelly (1887–1974), estranged from the family due to his homosexuality, became renowned in the 1920s as a dramatist, screenwriter and director with a hit comedy-drama, The Show Off, in 1924–25, and was awarded the 1926 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his next play, Craig's Wife.
from the film To Catch a Thief
|Born||Grace Patricia Kelly|
TheatreBecause of low mathematics scores, Kelly was rejected by Bennington College in July 1947.To the dismay of her mother, Kelly decided to pursue her dreams of a career in the theater. For an audition into the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York she used a scene from her uncle's 1923 play The Torch-Bearers. Although the school had already selected its semester quota, Kelly wrangled an interview with the school's admission officer, Emile Diestel. Alumni of the school include Lauren Bacall, Gene Tierney, and Spencer Tracy. Living in Manhattan's Barbizon Hotel for Women, a prestigious establishment which barred men from entering after 10 p.m., and working as a model to support her studies, Kelly began her first term the following October. A diligent student, she would use a tape recorder to practice and perfect her speech. Her early acting pursuits led her to the stage, most notably a Broadway debut in Strindberg’s The Father alongside Raymond Massey. At 19, her graduation performance was in The Philadelphia Story, a role with which she would also end her film career, in the MGM musical film version High Society.
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. She was noticed during a visit to the set by Gary Cooper, who subsequently starred with her in High Noon. Cooper was charmed by Kelly and said that she was "different from all these actresses we've been seeing so much of." However, her performance in Fourteen Hours was not noticed by critics, and did not lead to her receiving other film acting roles. She continued her work in the theater and on television.
She was performing in Colorado’s Elitch Gardens when she received a telegram from Hollywood producer Stanley Kramer, offering her a co-starring role opposite Gary Cooper in High Noon.
Actress for MGMGolden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and her first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
To audition for the role of Linda Nordley in MGM's production of Mogambo, the studio had Kelly flown to Los Angeles in September 1952. Gene Tierney was initially cast in the role, but due to emotional problems dropped out at the last minute. Kelly won the role, along with a 7-year contract, although she was hired at a relatively low salary of $850 a week. Kelly signed the deal under two conditions: First that, one out of every two years, she have time off to work in the theater and second, that she be able to live in New York City, at the now-landmarked Manhattan House, at 200 E. 66th Street. Just two months later, in November, the cast arrived in Nairobi to begin production. She later told Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper, "Mogambo had three things that interested me. John Ford, Clark Gable, and a trip to Africa with expenses paid. If Mogambo had been made in Arizona, I wouldn't have done it." The filming timetable afforded her opportunity to indulge in types of activities that undoubtably would not have been broadcast to the likes of Hedda Hopper or her reading public. Kelly and Mogambo co-star Ava Gardner enjoyed a break in the production schedule to journey to Rome and spent time there "brothel-hopping."
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 breaks out between her and her would-be-killer Tony Dawson 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.
Kelly began filming scenes for her next film, The Bridges at Toko-Ri, in January 1954 with William Holden. The role of Nancy, the wife of naval officer Harry (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 on-screen chemistry, taking note of Kelly's performance of the part "with quiet confidence."
In committing to the role of Lisa Fremont in Rear Window, 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 strife 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 won the role of Bing Crosby's long-suffering wife, Georgie Elgin, 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 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."
As a result of her performance in The Country Girl, Kelly was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. Her main competitor for the prize was Judy Garland's much heralded comeback performance in A Star Is Born; playing not only the part of an up and coming actress-singer, but also ironically, the wife of an alcoholic movie star. Although Kelly won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for best actress for her performances in her three big movie roles of 1954 (Rear Window, Dial M For Murder, and The Country Girl), she and Garland both received Golden Globe Awards for their respective performances.
By the following March, the race between Kelly and Garland for the Oscar was very close. On the night of the Academy Awards telecast, March 30, 1955, Garland was unable to attend because she was in the hospital having just given birth to her son, Joseph Luft. However, she was rumored to be the odds-on favorite, and NBC Television cameras were set up in her hospital room so that if she was announced as the winner, Garland could make her acceptance speech live from her hospital bed. However, when William Holden announced Kelly as the winner, the technicians immediately dismantled the cameras without saying one word to Garland. Garland was reported not to have been very gracious about Kelly's win, saying in later years, "I didn't appreciate Grace Kelly taking off her makeup and walking away with my Oscar."
In April 1954, Kelly flew to Colombia for a 10-day shoot on 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.
France, along with department store heir Bernard "Barney" Strauss, to begin work on her third and last film for Alfred Hitchcock, To Catch a Thief. Kelly and her 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, Grant 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.
Kelly headed the US delegation at the Cannes Film Festival in April 1955. While there, she was invited to participate in a photo session at the Palace of Monaco with Prince Rainier III, the sovereign of the principality. After a series of delays and complications, Kelly met the prince in Monaco.
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 as a result of the Monaco Succession Crisis of 1918. 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 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." Kelly and her family had to provide Prince Rainier with dowry of $2,000,000 USD in order for the marriage to go ahead. The religious 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."
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 eight-day voyage. In Monaco, more than 20,000 people lined the streets to greet the future princess consort.
That same year, MGM released Kelly's last film, the musical comedy High Society (based on the studio's 1940 comedy Philadelphia Story). One highlight of the film was Kelly's duet with Bing Crosby, singing "True Love," with words and music by Cole Porter.
As is customary in some countries, Kelly and Rainier had both civil and religious weddings. The 40-minute civil ceremony took place in the Palace Throne Room of Monaco on April 18, 1956, 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 following day the church ceremony took place 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 bridesmaid's gowns were designed by Joe Allen Hong at Neiman Marcus after Lawrence Marcus visited Monaco. The 600 guests included Hollywood stars David Niven and his wife Hjördis, Gloria Swanson, Ava Gardner, the crowned head Aga Khan, Gloria Guinness, Daisy Fellowes, Etti Plesch, Lady Diana Cooper, Enid, Lady Kenmare, Loelia, Duchess of Westminster 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. The ceremony was watched by an estimated 30 million people on television. The prince and princess left that night for their seven-week Mediterranean honeymoon cruise on Rainier's yacht, Deo Juvante II.
As Princess of Monaco, she founded AMADE Mondiale, a Monaco-based non-profit organization eventually recognized by the United Nations as a Non-Governmental Organization. According to UNESCO's website, AMADE promotes and protects the "moral and physical integrity" and "spiritual well-being of children throughout the world, without distinction of race, nationality or religion and in a spirit of complete political independence." Her daughter Princess Caroline carries the torch for AMADE today in her role as President.
Children and familyPrincess Grace gave birth to the couple's first child, Princess Caroline, nine months and four days after the wedding. Twenty-one guns announced the event, a national holiday was called, gambling ceased, and free champagne flowed throughout the principality. A little over a year later, 101 guns announced the birth of their second child, Prince Albert. Prince Rainier and Princess Grace had three children:
- Caroline Louise Marguerite, Princess of Hanover, born January 23, 1957, and now heiress presumptive to the throne of Monaco
- Albert II, Prince of Monaco, born March 14, 1958, current ruler of the Principality of Monaco
- Princess Stéphanie Marie Elisabeth, born February 1, 1965.
Later yearsAfter the wedding, 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 in Monaco against her involvement in a film that portrayed her as a kleptomaniac 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.
Kelly was also a member of the International Best Dressed List since 1960.
In 1981, the Prince and Princess celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.
Personal lifeKelly was the object of the tabloids and gossip throughout her life. Her love life was a particular focus of speculation. Stories of affairs circulated from her first major role in motion pictures and eventually included the names of almost every major actor at the time.
During the making of Dial M for Murder, her co-star Ray Milland attempted to seduce her. Milland was 22 years older than she. Milland was married to Muriel Milland for thirty years, and the couple had a son. Milland assured Kelly that he had left his wife, which she would later find out to have been a lie. Muriel Milland was one of the most popular wives in Hollywood and had the support of many friends, including gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. After Muriel Milland found out about the alleged affair, Kelly was branded a homewrecker. After Kelly gave a press interview explaining her side of the story the town seemed to lose interest in the scandal. 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.
Oleg Cassini, having just seen Mogambo earlier that evening, encountered Grace Kelly having dinner at Le Veau d'Or. Formerly married to actress Gene Tierney, the original choice to play Mogambo's Linda Nordley, Cassini was raised in Florence and had a cultured air with an abundance of charm and courtliness. He became just as captivated by Kelly in person as he had been while watching her in the film and soon piqued her curiosity by sending her a daily bouquet of red roses. His persistence paid off when she accepted his invitation to lunch, with the provision that her eldest sister, Peggy, join them. Ultimately, her relationship with Cassini foundered on her parents' refusal to accept a divorced non-Catholic as a future son-in-law.
When she was a princess, Prince Rainier laid down a list of strict rules when it came to the encounters with the Princess at the palace, which included, no autographs, no photographs, no audio recording devices, and nobody was allowed to leave the room for anything, unless, and until, the Princess left the room first, so that she would avoid being trapped by a mob of fans. This observation was reported in 1963.
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.
Friendship with Josephine BakerIn 1951, the newly famous Kelly took a bold stand against a racist incident involving Black American expatriate singer/dancer Josephine Baker, when 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. When Baker died, the Princess secured her burial in Monaco.
DeathOn September 13, 1982, while driving with her daughter Stéphanie to Monaco from their country home on the French side of the border, Princess Grace suffered a stroke, which caused her to drive her Rover P6 off the serpentine road down a mountainside. The accident site is located at . 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 — "The Princess Grace Hospital Centre" in English—in 1985), 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.
Grace was buried in the Grimaldi family vault on September 18, 1982, after a requiem mass in Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Monaco. The 400 guests at the service included representatives of foreign governments and of present and past European royal houses. Diana, Princess of Wales represented the British royal family. Cary Grant was among the members of the film community in attendance. Nearly 100 million people worldwide watched her funeral. Prince Rainier, who did not remarry, was buried alongside her following his death in 2005.
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.||”|
LegacyCaroline, Princess of Hanover assumed the duties of President of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation. Albert II, Prince of Monaco is Vice-President.
The Princess Grace Foundation-USA (PGF-USA) was established following the death of Princess Grace of Monaco to continue the work that she had done, anonymously, during her lifetime, assisting emerging theater, dance and film artists in America. Incorporated in 1982, PGF-USA is headquartered in New York and is a tax-exempt, not-for-profit, publicly supported organization. The Princess Grace Awards, a program of the Princess Grace Foundation-USA, has awarded nearly 500 artists at more than 100 institutions in the U.S. with more than $7 million to date. The Princess Grace Foundation-USA also holds the exclusive rights to, and facilitates the licensing of, Princess Grace of Monaco's name and likeness throughout the world. Princess Grace Foundation-USA
On June 18, 1984, Prince Rainier inaugurated a public rose garden in Monaco in Princess Grace's memory because of 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. was refused entry to 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 present 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. Her brother, John Kelly, Jr., won the Diamond Sculls at Henley in 1947 and 1949 as well as a Bronze Medal in the single sculls at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne. In 2004 her son, Prince Albert, presented 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. In Monaco (at the Grimaldi Forum) and the United States (at Sotheby's) a large Princess Grace exhibition, coordinated by the Princely Family, called "Grace, Princess of Monaco: A Tribute to the Life and Legacy of Grace Kelly", celebrated her life and her contribution to the arts through her Foundation.
In October 2009, a plaque was placed on the "Rodeo Drive Walk of Style" in recognition of Princess Grace's contributions to style and fashion.
In November 2009, to commemorate what would have been her 80th birthday TCM named her as star of the month which saw Prince Albert II pay a special tribute to his mother.