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Grace Kelly, Actress to Princess

Updated on May 26, 2013

Grace Kelly Modeling

Grace Kelly & Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock once described Grace Kelly as a woman with 'sexual elegance." She was fire under ice. Coolly sophisticated, every inch a well-bred lady.

She is an icon in the fashion world. Her classic wedding dress is copied by numerous June Brides each year, who haven't forgotten the image of the elegant Grace Kelly ever since watching clips of her royal wedding on television.

Though not lacking a fairy tale element she did, after all marry a prince, Grace Kelly's story is far from being one of rags to riches. She was born in November 1928 into a wealthy Philadelphia family and had a privileged, if somewhat strict Catholic upbringing.

Grace's grandfather had come from Ireland. His children did very well for themselves in America and Grace's father owned a successful construction company.

When she decided on an acting career, her family led by her industrialist father was not exactly pleased. Even so, as a student at the American Academy of Dramatic Art, she showed enough promise to be offered a film contract. This she turned down to follow in her mother's footsteps and become a model.

In 1949, after several television appearances, she appeared on Broadway in The Father, opposite Raymond Massey. Her performance won her another offer from Hollywood which this time which this time she accepted, making the the first of her 11 films, Fourteen hours in 1951.

Grace Kelly becomes Princess of Monaco

Grace Kelly's Fame Leads to Royal Wedding

Her best performances were without doubt under the direction of Alfred Hitchcock, for whom she starred in: Dial M for Murder and Rear Window both in 1954. He cast her in roles to which she would lend a high moral and sophisticated tone, while appearing almost provocatively attractive.

Grace Kelly was not really a sex symbol. She was above that. Her screen characters were all reflections of her off-screen persona - cool, calm and sophisticated. Hollywood did not really know what to make of her, with only rare mentions in the gossip columns. apart from a brief, but well publicized affair with designer Oleg Cassini in 1954. The Kelly family disapproved of the liaison because Cassini was divorced and not Catholic.

Kelly's first encounter with the Prince who was to change her life was set up as part of the publicity machine of the 1955 Cannes Film Festival. He was captivated her beauty and sparkling conversation and she, in turn, by his suave yet direct manner. The happy couple married with the eyes of the world upon them. Monaco had gone into severe decline after its pre-war glory days as a playground for the very rich Prince Rainier could not have chosen a better bride than Grace Kelly to help him restore the principality to its former brilliance. Under their guidance tourism increased and Monaco became a solvent little Mediterranean jewel. The fabulous royal wedding took place in April 1956 and, to the delight of the Prince's subjects, Princess Grace gave birth to a son and heir, Prince Albert, in 1958.

The Princess was once tempted to return to the film world, in 1962, after reading the script of Hitchcock's Marnie. The Pope himself expressed the hope that she would set a good example to Catholic families everywhere by not leaving her children to return to work, and her 24 000 Monegasque subjects made it plain that it was their wish that she remain a princess. She acceded.

The conscientious but easy manner with which she carried out her duties, whether fund raising, organizing old people's homes or flower shows, consolidated the genuine rapport Princess Grace had established with her subjects.

Though discreet, her influence in matters of state was nonetheless real. At the time of trouble with France over the imposition of French tax laws in the Principality, she and Prince Rainier dined with General de Gaulle in Paris. The Prince allegedly found it very difficult to communicate with the lofty General. Not so the Princess, and the main points of the dispute were settled amicably and swiftly.

Shortly before the fatal car crash in September 1982, Princess Grace unwittingly composed her own epitaph: "I'd like to be remembered as a decent human being and a caring one." Her charity work assures her of this, but it is above all as the radiant and dignified Princess that Grace Kelly who will be most be remembered: the role seemed born to play. After the death of Princess Grace the world went into mourning along with Monaco.

Classic Grace Kelly


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