Grace Kelly, Beautiful Serenity
Her Serene Highness
Grace Kelly was Hollywood's beautiful, elegant and glamorous fairy-tale princess who upon marriage to Rainier III, Prince of Monaco in 1956, became Her Serene Highness The Princess of Monaco, but was generally known as Princess Grace of Monaco. She also won 2 Best Actress awards for her work.
Both as an actress and as a Princess, Grace brought a sense of style and class to everything she did, setting the fashion standards for the next decades. The American Film Institute ranked her #13 amongst the Greatest Female Stars of All Time.
She was one of the most intriguing American women of the 20th century. Despite her untimely death at the age of 52, her legacy lives on today
Grace Kelly was born in Philadelphia, on November 12, 1929 into a wealthy family. With two sisters and a brother, she spent her childhood in the Kelly home on the hill above East Falls, 3901 Henry Avenue.
She started school in the autumn of 1934, at the Academy of the Assumption, Ravenhill, Philadelphia, in the parish of St. Bridget's. Whilst there she modelled fashions at local social events with her mother and sisters. In 1943 she transferred to the Stevens School in Germantown, where she graduated in May 1947. Her graduation yearbook listed her favorite actress as Ingrid Bergmann.
She left for New York City where she and worked as a model and attended the American academy of Dramatic Arts.
After making her stage debut in Strindberg's The Father Kelly caught the eye of television producer Delbert Mann, who cast her as Bethel Maraday in her first of nearly 60 live television programs. Television success eventually brought her a role in the 1951 film Fourteen Hours which led to many offers. 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.
Her next film, Mogambo (1953), was a drama set in the Kenyan jungle which centers on the love triangle portrayed by Kelly, Clark Gable, and Ava Gardner. Whilst filming this movie she had an affair with Gable later memorably commenting "What else is there to do if you're alone in a tent in Africa with Clark Gable?" The movie earned Kelly an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, but the award went to Donna Reed for her role in From Here to Eternity.
Grace was now an established actress but it was her work with director Alfred Hitchcock, which began with Dial M for Murder in 1954, which made her a star. Her standout performance in Rear Window (1954) brought her to real prominence. As Lisa Fremont, she was cast opposite James Stewart, who played a crippled photographer who witnesses a murder in the next apartment from his wheelchair. In 1955, she was awarded the Academy Award for Best Actress for The Country Girl. While it was being filmed, she was romanced by co-star Bing Crosby, a fellow Irish Catholic, (who had recently lost his wife) but Kelly always denied that they had an affair.
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In 1955, Grace once again teamed with Hitchcock in To Catch a Thief (1955) co-starring Cary Grant. In 1956, she played Tracy Lord in the musical comedy High Society (1956) which also starred Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. The whimsical tale ended with her re-marrying her former husband, played by Crosby. The success of the song "True Love" from the movie earned Grace a gold record and in 1956, she was voted the Golden Globe's World Film Favorite Actor, Female.
High Society was well received and has proved to be a perennial favourite. It also turned out to be her final acting performance.She had recently met a handsome Prince Charming who was about to change her life forever.
Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier met in May, 1955, when Grace was attending the Cannes Film Festival and had agreed to be photographed with the Prince for "Paris Match." She was 26 years old. The Prince was just a few days shy of being 32 and had recently broken off plans to marry a film actress girlfriend because she was apparently infertile. (She later married and had a baby.) After the photo shoot, the Prince, known as the wealthiest bachelor in the world, and Grace visited the Prince's gardens and small zoo.
Their second meeting was a dinner date and a meeting with Grace's family.
In December, 1955, the engagement of Grace and Prince Rainier was announced. He first gave her an friendship ring of diamonds and rubies. Her engagement ring was a twelve-carat emerald-cut diamond ring.
The Prince wanted a substantial dowry from Grace's wealthy family. $2,000,000 was the final amount the Kelly family agreed to. So that her brother and two sisters wouldn't be shortchanged, the funds were diverted from Grace's inheritance.
Grace was required to take a fertility test prior to their wedding and was advised not make any more movies after the marriage. Grace also signed a marriage agreement in which she agreed that if they divorced, she would relinquish all rights to their children.
The wedding, which actually comprised two ceremonies on successive days, proved one of the most lavish and reported social events of the decade.
April 18, 1956 was the civil ceremony in the palace's baroque throne room. Grace wore a pale pink taffeta dress with cream-colored Alencon lace, white kid gloves, and a Juliet cap. Rainier wore striped trousers, a white vest, gray tie, and a black morning coat. They exchanged their vows in French. There were only 80 guests at the civil ceremony. They held a reception for the citizens of Monaco after the ceremony so that each one could shake hands with the new princess.
April 19, 1956, at 9:30 a.m., 600 guests at the St. Nicholas Cathedral witnessed the religious wedding ceremony at a high mass that was celebrated by the Bishop of Monaco. The flowers decorating the altar and church included white lilacs, hydrangeas, lilies, and snapdragons. It was called "the wedding of the century" by the press. It is estimated that 30 million people watched the wedding on television.
The matron of Honor was Grace's sister, Peggy. There were six bridesmaids. They all wore yellow organdy dresses. The six junior attendants (4 girls and 2 boys) were all dressed in white.
Guests included Cary Grant, Aga Khan, David Niven, Gloria Swanson, Aristotle Onassis, Ava Gardner, heads of state, and diplomats.
The people of Monaco gave the couple a cream and black Rolls-Royce convertible. The luncheon reception was held in the Palace Court of Honor. They sliced the six-tier wedding cake with the Prince's sword.
Their honeymoon was a cruise aboard the "Deo Juvante II" with stops in Villegranche, Spain, and Corsica. Grace reportedly was frequently seasick.
Prince Rainier wore a Napoleonic military type of uniform that he designed himself.
Grace's wedding gown was a gift from the MGM Studio and designed by Helen Rose. It was a high-necked, long-sleeved gown with a fitted torso and billowing skirt made of twenty-five yards of silk taffeta, one hundred yards of silk net, peau de soie, tulle and 125-year-old Brussels rose point lace. She wore a Juliet cap that was decorated with seed pearls, orange blossoms, and a veil of 90 yards of tulle. The chief hairstylist at MGM Studios, Sydney Guilaroff, styled Grace's hair for her wedding. Grace carried a small Bible and a bouquet of lilies-of-the-valley.
In 1982, Princess Grace lost control of the vehicle in which she and her daughter were travelling. While Princess Stephanie survived the accident with minor injuries, Grace lingered in a coma for barely 24 hours, before she died on 14th September. It was later determined that the Princess had suffered a stroke which had led to the crash.
Actor Jimmy Stewart, left, gave Kelly's eulogy at her highly publicized funeral, saying, "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."
Grace Kelly Biography
- Grace Kelly
A biography and filmography of Grace Kelly, on the site, Hollywood's Golden Age.com.
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