The following biography
Grace, Princess of Monaco (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.
Born November 12, 1929
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Died September 14, 1982
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Grace Kelly was born in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, to John Brendan Kelly, Sr., also known as Jack Kelly, and
Margaret Katherine Majer Kelly, a Catholic convert from Lutheranism.
Kelly's father's Irish American Catholic family (originally from Kidney
Lake, Newport, County Mayo, Ireland) were new but prominent figures in
Philadelphia society. Her father was a self-made millionaire and a
triple gold-medal-winning Olympic sculler, and her brother John B.
Kelly, Jr., sometimes known as "Jack, Jr." or "Kell", followed in that
tradition. 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
Although her family had opposed her
becoming an actress, Kelly became a fashion model and appeared in her
first film, Fourteen Hours (1951), when she was 22. The following year
she "starred" (with a supporting role) in High Noon (1952), a generally
praised but somewhat controversial western starring Gary Cooper.
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. Kelly
made three films with Alfred Hitchcock: Dial M for Murder, Rear Window,
and To Catch a Thief.
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
Life as Princess
The musical comedy High Society (1956) was
her last film, as her marriage to Rainier III marked her retirement from
acting. Before her marriage, she was previously allegedly involved with
Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Ray Milland, William Holden, Oleg Cassini, and
Jean-Pierre Aumont. She reportedly was surprised to learn from Rainier
that she was expected to give up her film career entirely, but followed
his wishes grudgingly.
Her Catholicism and ability to bear
children were key factors in her being chosen to marry Prince Rainier.
Tales were circulated that Monaco would revert to France in the absence
of an heir; and though there is no requirement for a Catholic marriage,
it was thought unlikely that a Catholic prince would divorce and remarry
if his chosen wife were barren. In fact, there was really little actual
danger that Monaco would revert to France since, in 1882, a childless
prince of Monaco could adopt an unrelated heir, thereby ensuring
Monaco's survival as a principality. Prince Rainier's maternal
grandfather, Louis II also legitimized his illegitimate daughter
Charlotte Louvet (later Princess Charlotte of Monaco, Duchess of
Valentinois), who would become Rainier's mother and made her his heir.
Before Kelly drew Rainier's attention,
French film star Gisèle Pascal had been his love interest for six years.
Pascal and Rainier supposedly parted when a physical examination
reportedly found her to be infertile, but she later married Raymond
Pellegrin, to whom she bore a child.
Prince Rainier and Princess Grace had three
Hereditary Princess Caroline Louise
Marguerite, born January 23, 1957, and now heiress presumptive to the
throne of Monaco
Albert II, Prince of Monaco, born March 14,
Princess Stéphanie Marie Elisabeth, born
February 1, 1965
In 2002 a new treaty between France and
Monaco clarified that even if there are no direct heirs of the reigning
prince, the principality will remain an independent nation, rather than
reverting to France. Due to Prince Albert's enduring bachelorhood,
Monegasque law now states that in the event of a reigning prince's lack
of descendants, his siblings and their children will inherit the throne.
The line of succession is now Princess Caroline, then her children by
her late second husband Stefano Casiraghi, who died in 1990, and her
daughter by her third husband, Ernst August V, Prince of Hanover.
At the age of 52, in September 1982,
Princess Grace suffered a stroke while driving. It had been rumored that
she was driving on the same stretch of highway in Monaco that had been
featured in To Catch a Thief, although her son claims that it was not.
It resulted in an accident, and she died the next day without regaining
consciousness. Princess Stéphanie, who was alleged by some sources to
have been the actual driver of the car, suffered only minor injuries.
Princess Grace is interred in St. Nicholas
Cathedral, Monte Carlo, Monaco, Prince Rainier being buried alongside
her following his death in 2005.
Fourteen Hours (1951)
High Noon (1952)
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)
for Roman Holiday Academy Award for Best
for The Country Girl Succeeded by:
for The Rose Tattoo
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She was the first actress to appear on a
postage stamp. (Source: The Book of Useless Information, published
2002.) She's also mentioned in Billy Joel's history themed song "We
Didn't Start the Fire" ("Princess Grace").
The French haute couture fashion house
Hermès named one of its most famous, and now most sought-after, products
for Grace Kelly—the "Kelly Bag." Waiting lists of up to two years are
not unusual for this handbag, and prices start at $5000 for the small
version in plain leather and soar over $50,000 for crocodile skin or
other unusual materials.
The classic head-cover of a silk scarf
crossed under the chin and knotted at the side or nape of the neck is
universally known as the "Grace Kelly". This chic look is still copied
by many female Hollywood stars when they wish to retain a degree of
anonymity in the public eye. Famous users include: Sharon Stone,
Madonna, and Annette Bening.
The gown that Princess Grace wore on her
wedding day was donated to the Philadelphia Museum of Art shortly
thereafter. It is currently on display in honor of her fiftieth wedding
Alfred Hitchcock wanted to cast Kelly in
the title role of his motion picture Marnie, but the people of Monaco
were not happy with the idea of their princess taking on the role of
such a character.
The opening track on the band EELS' third
studio album—Daisies of the Galaxy—is titled "Grace Kelly Blues" and,
while not mentioned by name in the song, the second verse certainly
applies to her, with the lyrics "the actress gave up all her old
dreams/traded up and now she's the queen/royal families don't have
time/for that shit/your crystal ball, you keep it hid". It is an upbeat
song, though it deals with traditionally depressing subjects, such as
loneliness and unfulfillment in life.
In virtuoso guitarist Paul Gilbert's 2000
album Alligator Farm, she is mentioned in the song "Six Billion People".
Is mentioned in the Elton John song "Wrap
Makes a cameo appearance in Wu Ming's novel
54. Some action takes place on the French Riviera, during the filming of
To Catch a Thief. One of the main characters in the book is Cary Grant.
There is a track on Piebald's 2001 double
album Barely Legal/All Ages called "Grace Kelly with Wings." She is
cited in the song as such: "That's more than a dress / it's a Grace
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