Legendary actress, Grace Kelly, was born Grace Patricia Kelly on Nov 12, 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Kelly died at the age of 52 on Sep 14, 1982 in Monaco and was laid to rest in Cathedral of Saint Nicholas Cemetery in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
Born in to a world of arts and privilege, Grace Kelly's path from American aristocracy to Hollywood Stardom and finally to European Royalty seemed as natural for her as breathing. Poised and elegant from birth, the aptly named Grace Kelly was born on November 12th, 1929 to a very wealthy and prominent Philadelphian family. Her father, still regarded as a local hero to this very day, was a three-time Olympic gold metal winner who broke multiple world records in the sport of rowing. He then went onto found the largest construction company on the east coast of its time. Grace's mother also made local history by becoming the first woman in the history of the University of Pennsylvania to head the Physical Education Department. Her Uncle Walter Kelly was a famed vaudevillian star and her other Uncle George, was a known dramatists, screenwriter, Pulitzer Prize winner, and would help guide his niece during the early stages of her career.
As a child Grace Kelly modeled at local fashion events with her sister and mother. At 12 she starred in the play Don't Feed the Animals put on by a local theatre troupe. She attended Steven School, a private and socially exclusive Catholic school located in Northwest Philadelphia, where she took a further interest in acting. After graduating in 1947, opted out of college to follow her dreams of the theatre, auditioning for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Although the school had reached it's admittance quota, Kelly use her connections with her uncle George to get enrolled. By all accounts, she was model student while also working as model to help pay for her education. Very fittingly, for her graduation performance, she played Tracy Lord from A Philadelphia Story. She made her Broadway debut opposite Raymond Massey in The Father, which would lead to appear in over 50 live performances on television. She traveled to Hollywood, where she would make her silver screen debut in the 1951 film Fourteen Hours. The small part, however, did not get her noticed by critics and she returned to the stage and small screen before Hollywood called once again.
In 1952 Kelly was cast opposite Gary Cooper in the Fred Zinnermann Western High Noon. She portrayed the young bride of sheriff Gary Cooper. While the film was a hit and nominated for four Academy Awards, Kelly's performance was not regarded as anything noteworthy. She returned to New York and enrolled in the School of Theater to further improve her craft and hone her skills. She did more stage and television work before director John Ford asked for a screen test. He wished to cast in his next film and was able to secure a contract with MGM studios that allowed her to live in New York to continue stage work. With her contract secure, she traveled to Africa to star opposite Clark Gable and Ava Gardner in John Ford's Mogambo. The film was hit at the box office and Kelly was nominated for a Golden Globe and Academy Award for best supporting actress. Her next film would mark one of Kelly most important professional partnerships.
After the Success of Mogambo, Alfred Hitchcock casts Kelly in his 1954 suspense thriller Dial "m" for Murder. The director became somewhat of a mentor to the young starlet and was heavily influential on her onscreen image. The film was a success with critics and at the box-office with Kelly receiving positive reviews. Her next film was George Stevens' wartime drama The Bridges at Toko-Ri. She worked with Hitchcock again for 1954's Rear Window opposite James Stewart. In the film she played Lisa Femont, wealthy manhattans model and girlfriend to famed action photographer Jefferies (James Stewart). The film opened to great reviews and even greater ticket sales. Kelly received her best reviews to date. In her next film, The Country Girl, Kelly played the wife of has-been alcohol dependent crooner, Bing Crosby. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress and, to the surprise, edged out main competitor Judy Garland to win the Award. Her next film, 1955's Greenfire, was the only significant commercial and critical failure of her career.
Later Career and Royal Marriage
For her next film Kelly traveled to the French Riviera to film Alfred Hitchcock's, To Catch a Thief, opposite Cary Grant. It would be her last film with the Master of suspense. It was while filming To Catch a Thief that Kelly would meet Prince Rainier III of Monaco. They soon began a romance that would capture the imaginations of all the worlds press. Her next film would play Princess Alexandra in Charles Vidor's The Swan opposite Alec Guinness. Her final film was a musical remake of the Philip Barry classic The Philadelphia called High Society. She starred opposite Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. The film was released to favorable reviews and good ticket sales. Soon after the films release, she announced her retirement from the screen to marry Prince Rainier Grimaldi of Monaco. She had met the royal Prince at the Cannes film festival a year early and the two were soon engage with a blessings from one side of the family and a two million dollar dowry from the other.
The wedding, of course, was lush and extravagant as only a royal wedding should be. Kelly's dress was nothing short of magnificent, designed by top MGM costume designer Helen Rose and tailored by no less than three-dozen seamstresses. The guest list topped over 600 and included names like David Niven, Gloria Swanson, Conrad Hilton, and Ava Gardner. Over 25 million people watched the Ceremony.
Royal Life and Death
Once crowned Princess of Monaco, Kelly devoted herself to her royal duties. She was, however, given ample chance to return to the screen. In 1962, Hitchcock offered her the title role in psychological thriller Marnie. Although it is reported she was excited at the prospect, the citizens of Monaco did not think it proper for their Princess to portray a lying kleptomaniac and she regretfully declined. In 1977, she offered a role in the 1977 ballot-drama The Turning Point, however, this time it was her husband that opposed the idea and once again she declined.
As Princess, she became a major proponent of the arts. One of her major accomplishes was the creation of the Princess Grace Foundation in support of local artists. She remained focused on improving public art intuitions in Monaco during the remainder of her royal tenure. One September 13th, 1982, Kelly suffered a stroke while driving then lost control of her vehicle, causing it go slip off a ravine. The Princess suffered serious injuries and died the next day at Monaco Hospital, later to be named The Princess Grace Hospital Center. Her burial took play at the Grimaldi Family vault and had over 400 guests that included top Hollywood stars and foreign dignitaries. She was 52 years old.(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).
HONORS and AWARDS:.
Grace Kelly was nominated for two Academy Awards, winning one for Best Actress for The Country Girl (as Georgie Elgin) in 1954.
|1953||Best Supporting Actress||Mogambo (1953)||Linda Nordley||Nominated|
|1954||Best Actress||The Country Girl (1954)||Georgie Elgin||Won|
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Lisa: He likes the way his wife welcomes him home.
Princess Beatrix: Dear Aunt Symphorosa - always looking for wallflowers.
Mike: She's a lovely girl.
Tracy: Yes, isn't she? Ah, but we're afraid she has a homicidal streak.
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