Birth and Childhood
On November 12 of 1929, a new star was born in the city of Philadelphia. Grace Patricia Kelly entered the world and would go on to lead an extraordinary life, starring in many movies, getting awards, and ultimately becoming a real-life princess. She is considered as one of the true icons of the Golden Age of cinema and inspired crowds of fans and followers all over the earth until her premature death. Consistently ranked as one of the greatest actresses of all time, despite a relatively brief cinematic career, Grace Kelly left an unmatched legacy through her inner and outer beauty and remarkable talents.
Monaco, April 1958. (Photo by Emilio Ronchini/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Her parents consisted of an Olympic athlete father and a physical education instructor mother. The Kelly family was wealthy and had good connections, but weren’t keen to hear about young Grace’s aspiration of becoming an actress. Grace’s father, in particular, famously opined that acting was barely better than being a ‘streetwalker,’ even though his brothers Walter and George, had enjoyed much success in the movie-making business working in acting and directing, respectively.
Chasing the Dream
Unperturbed by her parents’ disapproval, Grace set out to become an actress and auditioned to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. Her uncle George helped to get her a spot, but Grace wasn’t going to get by on nepotism alone. She worked hard, practicing and sharpening her acting skills each day until making her Broadway debut in ‘The Father.’
Alfred Hitchcock USA 1954 Produced by: Warner Bros. Pictures Vintage property of ullstein bild (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
More stage appearances followed until Kelly caught the eye of a TV producer named Delbert Mann. Mann gave Grace her first big break, and she went on to work in many television productions, eventually catching the eye of Hollywood.
A Short But Stellar Movie Career
Grace’s appearances in films ran from 1951 to 1956. It was a short movie-making career, but an exceptional one. She appeared in a couple of minor roles at first, before a turn in 1953’s Mogambo really made her a major name, with an Oscar nomination. She then caught the eye of Alfred Hitchcock, with whom she would forge a fruitful partnership.
Grace Kelly, Clark Gable, Ava Gardner and others sit around a table drinking wine in a scene from the film ‘Mogambo’, 1953. (Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)
Kelly appeared in three Hitchcock films, including the highly successful Rear Window and became one of Hitchcock’s many muses. She also starred in 1954’s The Country Girl, for which she was awarded an Academy Award for Best Actress.
Her Final Role
As the years flew by, it seemed like Grace Kelly could do no wrong. With everynew film that came out, she was receiving more award, nominations, and plaudits. She was on her way to becoming the Queen of Hollywood, but her movie career was unexpectedly about to end with one final appearance in the 1956 film High Society.
American actors Frank Sinatra as Mike Connor and Grace Kelly as Tracy Lord in the musical film ‘High Society’, 1956. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
This was an MGM musical comedy production featuring Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra alongside Kelly herself. Kelly could surely have gone on to star in many more films and won a long list of awards, but her career came to a close as she met the love of her life, Prince Rainier III of Monaco.
A Match Made in Heaven
Kelly met Prince Rainier III at his palace in Monaco while visiting France for the Cannes Film Festival. She was dating a French actor at the time but was swiftly smitten with the prince. The pair spent a whole year courting one another before getting married in 1956, with a huge ceremony watched by more than 30 million people on live TV.
Grace Kelly and Prince RainierThe couple announced they would be married shortly after Easter.
Some of the celebrity guests at the wedding included Cary Grant, David Niven, and Ava Gardner, and the happy couple spent seven weeks on their honeymoon aboard the prince’s yacht.
The Life of a Princess
It was quickly announced that Grace was pregnant and the couple welcomed their first child, Caroline, into the world in January of 1957. Two more children, Albert and Stéphanie, followed in later years.
(Photo by Rene Maestri/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)
Due to her ties in Monaco, Grace had to abandon her Hollywood career. To replace this aspect of her life, she became a philanthropist, founding a non-profit organization named AMADE Mondiale to help children around the world, along with the Princess Grace Foundation to boost art and crafts in Monaco. The Princess was also a fashion icon, with a high global interest in her outfits and outings.
Last Persuasion Effort to Return to the Game
Alfred Hitchcock got in touch with Grace Kelly in 1962, offering her the starring role in his new film. The Princess of Monaco was tempted by the part and a return to her acting career, but there was much anger among the Monégasque people about a member of their royal family playing such an unusual role. Kelly was offered additional roles later on as well but never went back to the movies. She did, however, work alongside her husband on a short independent film in 1979.
American actress Grace Kelly on the set of Dial M for Murder, directed and produced by British Alfred Hitchcock. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
The couple hoped to work with ABC to extend the project, but it never came to pass due to a tragic event in 1982.
Death is Unfortunate and Inevitable
On September 13 of 1982, Kelly was driving home when she suffered a stroke, losing control of her vehicle and driving off the side of a cliff road, falling some 120 feet. She was rushed to Monaco Hospital with brain damage and broken bones and sadly passed away the next day. Her daughter, Stéphanie, was also in the car but suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
(Photo by Bertrand LAFORET/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Grace Kelly’s funeral was held a few days later, on September 18. Many celebrities and famous people from around the world like Princess Diana and Cary Grant attended. Many years later, Prince Rainier was buried beside his wife after dying in 2005.
An Undying Legacy
Grace Kelly left an incredible legacy behind her. An icon in the worlds of fashion, acting, and philanthropy, she was a woman who could seemingly do no wrong and had lived a real-life fairy tale. She was an inspiration to countless people, with many statues, memorials, and even films in her honor like Grace of Monaco (2014) and Grace Kelly (1983).
Grace KellyAmerican actress Grace Kelly (1929 – 1982), circa 1955. (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)
Even now, many years after her passing, she remains a symbol of Hollywood’s Golden Age and is ranked as one of the greatest actresses to have ever lived. The Princess Grace Rose Garden is maintained in her honor Monaco, featuring 4,000 roses and a statue of Kelly in the center.