Grace Kelly

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Grace Patricia Kelly
Princess of Monaco
Grace Kelly MGM photo.jpg
Titles HSH The Princess of Monaco
Born November 12, 1929
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Died September 12, 1982
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Consort April 19, 1956 - September 14, 1982
Consort to Rainier III
Issue Princess Caroline, Prince Albert, Princess Stéphanie
Father John B. Kelly, Sr.
Mother Margaret Katherine Majer

Grace, Princess of Monaco, née Grace Patricia Kelly, (November 12, 1929 – September 14, 1982) was an Academy Award-winning American film actress who, upon marriage to Rainier III, Prince of Monaco on April 19 1956, became Her Serene Highness The Princess of Monaco. She was the mother of the principality's current reigning Sovereign Prince, Albert II. Princess Grace was not required to renounce her American citizenship upon her marriage. For many people, she symbolized glamor. However, her family-centered life set a high standard of public morality that few in the movie industry could match. Her screen to palace story was a real life romance that seemed to match the artificial realities of show business. Although she retired from acting when she married her Prince, she remained in the public eye due to the high profile film festival of her adopted home.

Early life

Grace Kelly was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to John Brendan Kelly, Sr., also known as Jack Kelly, and Margaret Katherine Majer Kelly, a German American Catholic convert from Lutheranism. Kelly's father's Irish American Catholic family, were new but prominent figures in Philadelphia society. The family was well-known and popular throughout the country.

Kelly's father was a self-made millionaire and a triple gold-medal-winning Olympic sculler at a time that the sport of rowing was at its zenith. He was active in politics, running for mayor of Philadelphia and serving on the Fairmount Park commission. During World War II, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed the senior Kelly as his National Director of Physical Fitness, a public relations post which allowed Kelly to use his fame to instill the virtues of physical fitness.

Her brother John B. Kelly, Jr., followed in that tradition. He won the Sullivan Award in 1947, as the top amateur athlete in the country. His rowing exploits were well-chronicled. John, Jr., gave his sister as a wedding present the bronze medal he won at the 1956 Summer Olympics. Kelly Drive in Philadelphia is named for John, Jr., who was a city councilman there.

Her father's large family included two prominent uncles in the arts: Walter Kelly, a vaudevillian, and the Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright, George Kelly. Kelly's maternal grandparents, Carl Majer and Margaretha Berg, were of German descent.


Although her parents had opposed her becoming an actress, Kelly auditioned for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, using a scene from her uncle George Kelly's The Torch-Bearers (1923). Kelly worked diligently, and practiced her speech by using a tape recorder. Although the school had already met its semester quota, she obtained an interview with the admissions department, and was admitted through George's influence. Her early acting pursuits led her to the stage, and she made her Broadway debut in Strindberg's The Father, alongside Raymond Massey. At 19, her graduation performance was as Tracy Lord in The Philadelphia Story. Her uncle continued to advise and mentor Kelly throughout her acting career.

Impressed by her work in The Father, Henry Hathaway, director of the Twentieth Century-Fox film Fourteen Hours (1951), offered her a small role in the film, opposite Paul Douglas, Richard Basehart, and Barbara Bel Geddes. Douglas commented: "In two senses, she did not have a bad side – you could film her from any angle, and she was one of the most un-temperamental, cooperative people in the business."[1]

Kelly in High Noon (1952), her first major film role

Producer Stanley Kramer offered her a role co-starring opposite Gary Cooper in Fred Zinnemann's High Noon (1952), a Western filmed in Columbia, California. She was cast as a "young Quaker bride to Gary Cooper's stoic Marshall", and wore a "suitably demure vaguely Victorian dress."[2] High Noon garnered four Academy Awards, and has been ranked by some reviewers among the best films of all time.

After filming High Noon, Kelly returned to New York City and took private acting lessons, wanting to be taken seriously as an actress.[2] She performed in a few dramas in the theater, and in TV serials.[1] She screen-tested for the film Taxi in the spring of 1952. Director John Ford noticed Kelly in the screen test, and his studio flew her out to Los Angeles to audition in September 1952. Ford said that Kelly showed "breeding, quality, and class". She was given the role, along with a seven-year contract at the relatively low salary of $850 a week (equivalent to $8,674 in 2021).[2] Kelly signed the deal under two conditions: first, that one out of every two years, she had time off to work in the theatre; and second, that she be able to live in New York City at her residence in Manhattan House, at 200 E. 66th Street, now a landmark.

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. The movie earned Kelly a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and her first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.

Kelly and James Stewart in Rear Window

After the success of Mogambo, Kelly starred in the television play The Way of an Eagle with Jean-Pierre Aumont, before being cast in the film adaptation of Frederick Knott's Broadway play Dial M for Murder, opposite Ray Milland and Robert Cummings. She was subsequently loaned by MGM to work in several Hitchcock films, which would become some of her most critically acclaimed and recognized work: Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, and To Catch a Thief.

Kelly then played the role of Bing Crosby's long-suffering wife, Georgie Elgin, in The Country Girl (1954), for which she was awarded the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Her final role was in Charles Walters's musical film High Society, a re-make of MGM's The Philadelphia Story (1940). She portrayed Tracy Lord, opposite Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Celeste Holm.


Kelly headed the U.S. delegation at the Cannes Film Festival in April 1955. While there, she was invited to participate in a photo session with Prince Rainier III, the sovereign of the Principality of Monaco, at the Prince's Palace of Monaco. After a series of delays and complications, she met him at the palace on May 6, 1955.

They married on April 19, 1956, after a year-long courtship.[3]

The Napoleonic Code of Monaco and the laws of the Catholic Church necessitated two ceremonies, civil and religious. The 16-minute civil ceremony took place in the Palace Throne Room of Monaco on April 18, 1956,[3] and a reception later in the day was attended by 3,000 Monégasque citizens.[4] The 142 official titles that she acquired in the union (counterparts of her husband's) were formally recited. The church ceremony took place the following day at Monaco's Saint Nicholas Cathedral, the Cathedral of Monaco.[3]

The wedding was estimated to have been watched by over 30 million viewers on TV, and was described by biographer Robert Lacey in 2010 as "the first modern event to generate media overkill."[4] Her wedding dress was designed by MGM's Academy Award-winning Helen Rose,[4] using over 400 yards of fabric and involving the entire MGM wardrobe department in creating a “fairy-princess” look for the soon-to-be real life princess.[5] The couple left that night for their seven-week Mediterranean honeymoon cruise on his yacht.[4]

Princess of Monaco

The Prince and Princess of Monaco arrive at the White House for a luncheon, 1961

Princess Grace gave birth to the couple's first child, Princess Caroline, on January 23, 1957. Their next child and the heir to the throne, Prince Albert, was born on March 14, 1958. Their youngest, Princess Stéphanie, was born on February 1, 1965.

During her marriage, Grace gave up her acting career. Instead, she performed her daily duties as princess and became involved in philanthropic work. As princess consort, she became the President of the Red Cross of Monaco (with her sister Peggy Davis and sister-in-law Princess Antoinette as the Vice-Presidents) and the Patron of Rainbow Coalition Children, an orphanage which was run by former dancer Josephine Baker. She hosted an annual Christmas celebration with presents for orphaned children in Monaco.[6] The Princess also served as president of the Garden Club of Monaco, and president of the organizing committee of the International Arts Foundation.[7]

Grace and her husband visited Ireland on three occasions, and in 1976 she purchased her family's ancestral homestead in Drimurla, near Newport, County Mayo.[8]

Grace founded AMADE Mondiale, a Monaco-based, non-profit organization which is recognized by the UN, after she witnessed the plight of Vietnamese children in 1963.[9] The organization retains consultative status with UNICEF, UNESCO, and the United Nations Economic and Social Council, alongside participative status with The Council of Europe. AMADE promotes and protects the "moral and physical integrity" and the "spiritual well-being of children throughout the world, without distinction of race, nationality or religion, and in a spirit of complete political independence."[10]

Princess Grace at Floriade garden exhibit, 1972

Princess Grace was active in improving the arts institutions of Monaco, forming the Princess Grace Foundation in 1964 to support local artisans.[11] In 1965, she accepted the invitation to be an honorary member of La Leche League, a worldwide mother-to-mother support group which focuses on mothering through breastfeeding. She was a speaker at their 1971 conference in Chicago, addressing 1,400 mothers, 1,600 fathers and babies. Grace was a known advocate of breastfeeding, and successfully fed her three children.[12] In 1975, Grace helped found the Princess Grace Academy, the resident school of the Monte Carlo Ballet.[13] She later advocated to preserve the Belle Époque-era architecture of the principality. Grace hosted a yearly American Week in Monaco, where guests would play baseball and eat ice cream. The palace also celebrated American Thanksgiving annually.[14]

Alfred Hitchcock offered Princess Grace the lead in his film Marnie in 1962. She was eager, but public outcry in Monaco against her involvement in a film where she would play a kleptomaniac made her reconsider and ultimately reject the project. She did however narrate ABC's made-for-television film The Poppy Is Also a Flower (1966) and in 1977, she performed a series of poetry readings on stage and narration of the documentary The Children of Theatre Street.

Grace joined the board of the 20th Century Fox Film Corporation in 1976, becoming one of its first female members. In 1980, she published My Book of Flowers with Gwen Robyns, detailing her sense of floral aesthetics, symbolism, and flower pressing.[15] Grace and Rainier worked together on a 33-minute independent film titled Rearranged in 1979, which received interest from ABC TV executives in 1982 after its premiere in Monaco, on the condition that it be extended to an hour. Before more scenes could be shot, Grace died and the film was never released.[16]


On September 13, 1982, Grace suffered a mild cerebral hemorrhage while driving back to Monaco from her country home in Roc Agel. As a result, she lost control of her 1971 Rover P6 3500 and drove off the steep, winding road and down the 120-foot (37 m) mountainside. Her teenage daughter Stéphanie, who was in the passenger seat, tried but failed to regain control of the car.[17] The Princess was taken to the Monaco Hospital (later named the Princess Grace Hospital Centre) with injuries to the brain and thorax and a fractured femur. She died the following night at 10:55 p.m. after Rainier decided to turn off her life support.[18]

Grave of Princess Grace of Monaco

Stéphanie suffered a light concussion and a hairline fracture of a cervical vertebra, and was unable to attend her mother's funeral.[17]

Princess Grace's funeral was held at the Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate in Monaco-Ville, on September 18, 1982. After a Requiem Mass, she was buried in the Grimaldi family vault. Over 400 people attended, including Cary Grant, Nancy Reagan, Danielle Mitterrand, Empress Farah of Iran, and Diana, Princess of Wales.[19]

Rainier, who did not remarry, was buried alongside her after his death in 2005.


Grace Kelly was an Oscar-winning American movie star who married a European monarch, Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, giving up her acting career to fulfill her responsibilities as the consort of her husband, the ruler of Monaco. As a royal, she modeled leadership, generosity, and style, an example for all in how to live one's best life, fulfilling her hopes for her life:

I would like to be remembered as someone who accomplished useful deeds, and who was a kind and loving person. I would like to leave the memory of a human being with a correct attitude and who did her best to help others.[20]

Kelly's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Kelly left a lasting legacy as a theater artist, television actress, and iconic Hollywood film star,[1] one of the most elegant women in cinematic and world history.[21]

In 1982, the Princess Grace Foundation-USA was established by her husband to continue the philanthropic work 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 800 artists at more than 100 institutions in the U.S. with more than $15 million.

After her death, Grace's legacy as a fashion icon lived on. Modern designers, such as Tommy Hilfiger and Zac Posen, have cited her as a fashion inspiration. Numerous exhibitions have been held of Kelly's life and clothing. The Philadelphia Museum of Art presented her wedding dress in a 2006 exhibition to mark the 50th anniversary of her marriage, and a retrospective of her wardrobe was held at London's Victoria and Albert Museum in 2010.

In 2007, Monaco hosted an international-scale exhibition in honor of Princess Grace, named "The Grace Kelly Years, Princess of Monaco," containing letters, personal belongings, fashion accessories, and sound recordings on display. A rose garden in Monaco's Fontvieille district is dedicated to the memory of Kelly, opened in 1984 by Rainier. A hybrid tea rose, named Rosa 'Princesse de Monaco', was named after her. She is commemorated in a statue by Kees Verkade in the garden, which features 4,000 roses. Prince Rainier also established the Princess Grace Irish Library in her memory, containing her personal collection of over 9,000 books and sheet music. Avenue Princesse Grace, "the most expensive street in the world," is named for her, as is Boulevard Princesse Grâce de Monaco in Nice, France.


  • Fourteen Hours (1951)
  • High Noon (1952)
  • Mogambo (1953)
  • Dial M for Murder (1954)
  • Green Fire (1954)
  • Rear Window (1954)
  • The Country Girl (1954)
  • The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954)
  • To Catch a Thief (1955)
  • The Swan (1956)
  • High Society (1956)
  • The Nativity (1982) [short, voice only]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Donald Spoto, High Society: Grace Kelly and Hollywood (Arrow Books, 2010, ISBN 978-0099515371).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 H. Kristina Haugland, Grace Kelly: Icon of Style to Royal Bride (Yale University Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0300116441).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 1956: Prince Rainier marries Grace Kelly BBC: On This Day. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Sandra Choron and Harry Choron, Planet Wedding: A Nuptial-pedia (Mariner Books, 2010, ISBN 978-0618746583).
  5. Grace Kelly’s Bridal Gown —And The Timeless Details That Made It An Icon Grace Influential. Retrieved August 10, 2022.
  6. 20th Century Princess Turns 21st Century Influencer Grace Influential, August 25, 2020. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  7. Grace Kelly Your Dictionary. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  8. Mary Burke, Grace Kelly, Philadelphia, and the Politics of Irish Lace American Journal of Irish Studies 15 (2019):31-46.
  9. Princess Caroline, Word from the President The World Association of Children's Friends. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  10. The World Association of Children's Friends. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  11. Princess Grace History Princess Grace Foundation. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  12. Kaye Lowman, The Revolutionaries Wore Pearls (La Leche League International, 2007, ISBN 978-0976896982).
  13. The Academy: A bit of history Ballets de Monte Carlo. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  14. What Grace Kelly Taught the World About Being a Royal Grace Influential. Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  15. Princess Grace of Monaco, My Book of Flowers (Doubleday, 1980, ISBN 978-0385140768).
  16. Thilo Wydra, Grace: A Biography (Skyhorse Publishing, 2014, ISBN 978-1629145419).
  17. 17.0 17.1 Jeffrey Robinson, Rainier and Grace: An Intimate Portrait (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1989, ISBN 978-0871133434).
  18. Wendy Leigh, True Grace: The Life and Times of an American Princess (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007, ISBN 978-0312342364).
  19. Anne Edwards, The Grimaldis of Monaco: Centuries of Scandal, Years of Grace (William Morrow & Co, 1992, ISBN 978-0688088378).
  20. Legacy Grace Influential. Retrieved August 10, 2022.
  21. Jenny Curtis, Grace Kelly: A life in pictures (NY: Barnes & Noble Books, 2002, ISBN 0760735719).

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Choron, Sandra, and Harry Choron. Planet Wedding: A Nuptial-pedia. Mariner Books, 2010. ISBN 978-0618746583
  • Curtis, Jenny. Grace Kelly: A life in pictures. NY: Barnes & Noble Books, 2002. ISBN 0760735719
  • Edwards, Anne. The Grimaldis of Monaco: Centuries of Scandal, Years of Grace. William Morrow & Co, 1992. ISBN 978-0688088378
  • Grace, Princess of Monaco. My Book of Flowers. Doubleday, 1980. ISBN 978-0385140768
  • Haugland, H. Kristina. Grace Kelly: Icon of Style to Royal Bride. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006. ISBN 0300116446
  • Kirk, Cori. Finding Grace in Monaco. Victoria, BC, Canada: Trafford Publishers, 2006. ISBN 1553953592
  • Leigh, Wendy. True Grace: The Life and Times of an American Princess. Thomas Dunne Books, 2007. ISBN 978-0312342364
  • Quine, Judy. Bridesmaids: Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, and Six Intimate Friends. 1st ed. NY: Grove Press, 1989. ISBN 978-1555840679
  • Robinson, Jeffrey. Rainier and Grace: An Intimate Portrait. Atlantic Monthly Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0871133434
  • Spoto, Donald. High Society: Grace Kelly and Hollywood. Arrow Books, 2010. ISBN 978-0099515371
  • Surcouf, Elizabeth G. Grace Kelly: American Princess. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications; Library Binding edition, 1992. ISBN 0822505487
  • Wydra, Thilo. Grace: A Biography. Skyhorse Publishing, 2014. ISBN 978-1629145419

External links

All links retrieved May 24, 2024.


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