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Grace Kelly biography

Actress, princess of Monaco. Born November 12, 1929, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A Philadelphia debutante, Grace Kelly was the daughter of Jack Kelly, an Irish-American who made millions in the construction industry, and Margaret Kelly (nee Majer), a former athlete and photographer’s model. The third of four children, Grace was frail and introverted compared to her athletic and outgoing brothers and sisters. While studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Art in New York City, she began modeling and had an affair with her drama teacher, which her parents promptly forbade. In July 1949, Kelly made her professional acting debut at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pennsylvania, where she appeared in a revival of her uncle George Kelly's comedy Torch Bearers. She appeared on Broadway in The Father and made several television programs before being summoned to Hollywood to make her film debut in Fourteen Hours (1951). Kelly’s lithe and elegant blond beauty made her an instant Hollywood sensation, and she soon landed a major role in High Noon (1952) with Gary Cooper. She then signed a contract with MGM to make John Ford’s Mugambo with Clark Gable, for which she garnered an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress. She had a brief fling with Gable while filming in Africa, beginning a habit of getting romantically involved with her leading men. She also had a serious affair with Ray Milland while filming Dial M for Murder (1954), playing his doomed wife. She so impressed director Alfred Hitchcock in the role, that he immediately cast her as a bold and glamorous fashion editor in Rear Window (1954), opposite Jimmy Stewart, and as an independent American heiress in To Catch a Thief (1955) with Cary Grant. Grace’s acting career was short, prolific, and successful. She made five films in 1954, and won a Best Actress Oscar for her role in The Country Girl. In the tough and unglamorous role as the wife of a drunken former actor, played by Bing Crosby, Kelly donned dowdy clothes, dulled down her beauty, and proceeded to stun audiences with her striking and skilled performance. After appearing in the lusterless MGM production Green Fire with Stewart Granger, Kelly began to reject MGM scripts, resulting in her suspension from the studio. After hiring lawyers to settle the case, she returned to the studio in 1955 to make The Swan, the tale of a beautiful young woman who marries a crown prince.

The Cannes Festival of 1954 would prove to be a life-changing event for Kelly. In a brief meeting with Prince Rainier Grimaldi of Monaco in connection with a photo essay for French magazine, Kelly proceeded to capture his heart. The bachelor prince sought her out over the next few months and desperately tried to create another opportunity to meet. The opportunity came on Christmas Day 1955, when Rainier, his priest, and his doctor were invited to dinner at the Kellys' home in Philadelphia. On January 5, 1956, after a whirlwind romance, Rainier and Kelly formally announced their engagement in New York and Monaco. However, before marrying, Kelly had to fulfill her contract with MGM by appearing in High Society, a musical remake of The Philadelphia Story featuring a score by Cole Porter. One week after filming, Kelly and her closest friends and family set sail for Monaco, where they were greeted with grand festivities. Kelly and Prince Rainier were married on April 18, 1956, in a short civil ceremony at the royal palace. The next day, they married again in a large formal ceremony at Monaco’s Cathedral of St. Nicholas. For the three-hour public event, watched on television by 30 million people, Kelly wore an ivory dress made by Hollywood designer Helen Rose and was attended by seven bridesmaids. The new royal couple then set sail on the Prince’s yacht for a lengthy Honeymoon cruise. Shortly after their return, Prince Rainier announced that his consort was pregnant. On January 23, 1957, Princess Grace gave birth to Caroline Louise Marguerite—the first heiress to the throne. However, the birth of a son, Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre, 14 months later made him the rightful heir under Monegasque law. The birth of a third child, Princess Stephanie Marie Elizabeth, on February 1, 1965, completed the royal family. Life was much more difficlut at the royal palace than Kelly originally imagined due to cultural differences and Rainier’s difficult family. In 1960, her father died which left Princess Grace griefstricken. In 1964, Alfred Hitchcock offered her the lead in the film Marnie, but although she was interested in returning to work, the disapproval of her husband and Monaco's public forced her to turn him down. She proceeded to have several miscarriages, which further impeded her happiness and wellbeing. Nevertheless, Kelly did not hesitate to become involved in her official duties.

She succeeded her husband as president of the American Red Cross and established several charities—primarily devoted to childcare and improving the situation for Monaco’s youth. On behalf of her work with young people, the U.N. Food and Agricultural Association awarded Kelly the Ceres medal in 1977. During the early 1970s, Princess Grace and Rainier began to grow apart. Although they had different interests, they put up a façade for the public. Kelly later attributed their endurance during this time to their shared Catholic faith and her belief in and support of traditional women’s roles. She told Eleanor Perry (Us magazine, May 17, 1977), "Women's natural role is to be a pillar of the family... Emancipation of women has made them lose their mystery." Cut off from acting, Kelly began to explore alternative avenues of creative activity. She read poetry at the Edinburgh festival and in 1976 narrated Robert Dornhelm’s film about a ballet school in the Soviet Union, which began a lifelong friendship. Princess Grace also took up needlepoint and began to execute intricate collages of dried flowers (50 of which were exhibited at a Paris gallery in 1977). Her other interests included the study of astrology. While her children, charities, and personal interests kept her occupied, Princess Grace continued to attract unprecedented press attention and the paparazzi relentlessly pursued her family. Her children’s widely publicized rebellions and misfortunes did not help the situation. At age 20, Caroline married and divorced Phillipe Junot, 17 years her senior. While spending the summer in their country house in 1982, Stephanie, a difficult teenager, announced that she would follow her boyfriend to race car driving school in the fall. On September 13, 1982, Princess Grace was driving Stephanie back to the Palace in Monaco and had a stroke behind the wheel. She lost control of the car and it plunged off the road down a steep embankment. Stephanie suffered serious injuries from the crash and Kelly, critically injured, fell into a coma. Stephanie survived, but Kelly died the next day when Rainier, Albert, and Caroline decided to remove her life support. Monaco and the Grimaldi family mourned the loss of Princess Grace, and Rainier never remarried. Her memory continues to capture and inspire the public imagination, even though her fairy tale masked many struggles and concluded in tragedy. .

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