On November 12, 1929, Grace Patricia Kelly was brought into the world in Germantown, Pennsylvania, at Hahnemann Hospital. Her parents John Brendan Kelly, Sr. and Margaret Katherine Majer Kelly were new but prominent figures in Philadelphia society. John was a self made millionaire and a three time Olympic gold-medalist for sculling, and her mother Margaret was previously a model and a university level coach. Upon arriving at the proper school age, Kelly was sent to the Ravenhill Convent School, in the parish of Saint Bridget’s. She attended the school for nine years, until she transferred in 1943 to the Stevens School in Germantown. Kelly finished her high school years threre and graduated in May 1947. Her family was very interested in sports, but they did not hold much significance with her.
While enrolled in school, Kelly participated in field hockey and basketball and did well in both. After school ended, Kelly realized she was more interested in drama, though she did not show it that much. She started out her career as a model, though her family did not encourage it. She was discovered at a friend’s photo shoot and ended up on the next cover of Redbook. While trying to make her own way financially, Kelly enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts to learn to become an actress.
After graduation Kelly followed her love of the theater and poured her self completely into it. In the spring of 1949, she made her professional stage debut in her uncle’s comedy, The Torchbearers. After returning to New York, in search of a Broadway play, Kelly found one in the form of The Father, and she made her Broadway debut on November 16, 1949. She continued to work on Broadway and in television until about 1950, when she landed her first big screen movie, Fourteen Hours, where she played a woman bent on getting a divorce.
After Fourteen Hours, Kelly’s movie career skyrocketed. In the following years, she took roles in numerous movies. The next film Kelly completed was High Noon, in which she starred beside Gary Cooper. High Noon was released in 1952, and became slightly controversial because no one thought that the director, who was Jewish, would be able to grasp the American staple genre, the Western. Her next film, Mogambo, came in 1953. Mogambo was a drama set in the Kenyan jungle featuring a love triangle. Kelly became romantically involved with one of her costars, Clark Gable, while on location for the film. After being asked about this affair, Kelly made the memorable comment, “What else is there to do if you’re alone in a tent in Africa with Clark Gable?”
Kelly received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Mogambo, but did not win the award. Even though she did not win the award, a great opportunity did come from the completion of this film; it led to a seven year signing with MGM. The next year, 1954, Kelly’s career truly started to boom. She completed five movies: Dial M for Murder, Green Fire, Rear Window, The Country Girl, and The Bridges at Tokyo-Ri.
Of the five films, The Country Girl was the most successful for Kelly; she received the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the film. Two of the films, Dial M for Murder and Rear Window, were both done by Alfred Hitchcock, the famous suspense film director. The two had a great working relationship. After two films working with MGM, Kelly returned to the safety of Hitchcock, after he asked her to star in his next movie, To Catch a Thief. She accepted the role and began filming right away. After that film wrapped up Kelly took some time off for the first time in years. While filming on location in the Riviera, Kelly met up with an old acquaintance from her modeling days, Oleg Cassini. He became a person to laugh with, and they soon became very close.
She spent her time off with Cassini and friends in her New York apartment. By mid-winter 1955, the relationship between Cassini and Kelly ended. She felt that Cassini had entertained and amused her for the duration of their relationship, but she just did not love him. Later that year Kelly was invited to the Cannes Film Festival. Kelly was restless and anxious to get back to work so she quickly accepted the invitation. While in France, Kelly met Prince Rainier, reigning prince of Monaco, at a photo shoot she was doing in Monaco. At the time she thought nothing of it. Production on Kelly’s next film started early in 1955.
In The Swan, Kelly played a princess who was being considered as a wife by her cousin, the next heir to the throne. The film wrapped in September 1955 in California. Kelly’s last film, High Society, was a musical and was completed in 1956. Many people were shocked to hear Kelly would be retiring from the movie making business, especially in the peak time of her career. Kelly intended to get married, but not to just anyone; she had become engaged to His Serene Highness, Prince Rainier III of Monaco. They had met in France at the Cannes Film Festival, but they had not kept in touch. In the summer of 1955, a family friend of the Kelly’s, Mr. and Mrs. Austin, had taken a trip to Monaco, and they had trouble getting a table at the Sporting Club for a gala event.
They decided to put a call into the Prince because they were friends of Kelly’s, and he willingly got them a table. The next day the Austins had tea with the prince and quickly became friends. Tea turned into Christmas dinner at the Austins’ home in Margate. Kelly was also invited to this dinner. Kelly had a firm belief in the timing of situations. She believed timing is all important in all relationships, both romantic and friendly. The Prince and Kelly hit it off at dinner, and they spent the rest of his time in the United States together.On the third day they spent time together, the prince’s prelate, Father Tucker had a meeting with John Kelly, Grace’s father. Though neither Kelly nor the Prince were there, Father Tucker, representing the Prince, asked for Kelly’s hand in marriage. Her father said “yes” very quickly and the engagement was on. The official announcement was made simultaneously on January 5, 1956, in Philadelphia and in Monaco.
The two were married on April 18, 1956, in what was called one of the most lavish weddings of all time. Kelly’s gown was the most expensive garment ever made by the designer Helen Rose. It was made of 25 yards of silk taffeta and 100 yards of silk net. It also had 125 year old rose point lace that they had bought from a museum just for her dress. Kelly soon became a mother, giving birth to her their first child Princess Caroline on January 23, 1957. She also gave birth to two other children later on in her life. The hereditary Prince, Albert, was born on March 14, 1958, and Princess Stephanie on February 1, 1965. There was a longer time between her last two children because she had duties to attend to as Princess. From 1958 to the end of her life, as President of the Monegasque Red Cross, Princess Grace took a significant part in the social life in the country. Under her influence, the Monegasque Red Cross became one of the most active associations of the International Federation of The Red Cross.
This happened not only through the support she gave to regional social causes, but also through her contribution in organizing a program for under-developed countries and aid for international disasters. She did so many things for her country and others. The Princess created The Princess Grace Foundation in 1964. Part of its aim was the financial support and encouragement of “L’Academie de Danse classique.” The Foundation awards grants to talented young dancers of all nationalities to attend the Academy and places them at the completion of their training. Princess Grace died on September 14, 1982, at the age of 52. Her Serene Highness had been driving down a highway in Monte Carlo with her daughter, Princess Stephanie, when, it is believed, that Kelly had a stroke and lost control of the car. She went into a coma and never regained consciousness. She died the day after the accident. Princess Stephanie came out of the accident with just minor injuries. The Princess is interred in St. Nicholas Cathedral in Monte Carlo, Monaco. After his death in 2005, Prince Rainer III was buried alongside Princess Grace.