Grace Kelly. Is there anything about the High Noon actress that hasn’t already been said? Well, apparently there is. Join us as we take a closer look at how Kelly left Hollywood behind to become a full-fledged member of a royal family. While she arguably already had all of the fame and fortune that you would expect from a royal, evidently that wasn’t enough.
You might think that you already know everything there is to know about this highly revered and critically claimed actress, but after watching this video, you’ll look at Grace Kelly in a whole new light. But before we talk about her Royal wedding, let’s brush up a bit on her backstory to gain some context.
Grace Kelly’s Auspicious Beginnings
Kelly was born on the 12th of November in 1929 at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia. She came from a wealthy and highly-influential Catholic Irish-American family.
Her father, John B. Kelly, was a three-time Olympic gold medal recipient for sculling and owned a profitable brickwork business widely known on the Eastern seaboard. He was the Democratic nominee for Mayor of Philadelphia in the 1935 election, although he lost by the smallest margin in the history of the Pennsylvania city.
John later served on the Fairmount Park Commission. During the second world war, he was appointed by the 32nd President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt as National Director of Physical Fitness.
John’s brother, Walter C. Kelly, was a famous star of the vaudeville scene who worked with Paramount Pictures and MGM. His other brother, George Kelly, was a Pulitzer Prize-winning director, screenwriter, and dramatist.
Grace’s mother, Margaret Majer, hailed from German ancestry. She taught PE at the University of Pennsylvania and was the first female coach for the school’s women’s athletic department. She modeled, albeit briefly, when she was young, but after getting married to John in 1924, she shifted focus and became a housewife until her children were of school-age – after which she started participating in several different civic organizations.
Grace grew up in a relatively small and close-knit Philadelphia Catholic community. She was baptized into the faith and attended a parish school called Saint Bridget’s in East Falls, a suburb of Philly. Kelly later attended Ravenhill Academy, a prestigious Catholic Girls’ school.
While she was receiving her education there, Kelly modeled for charity events alongside her sisters and mother. In 1942, when she was 12, Kelly played the lead role in a play produced by the Old Academy Players called Don’t Feed the Animals. Five years later, she graduated from another prestigious private school named Stevens School. While there, she participated in the school’s dance and drama programs.
Kelly was rejected by Bennington College in 1947 after her mathematics scores proved to be less than impressive. And despite her parent’s wishes, she decided to dive headfirst into pursuing her dream of becoming a Hollywood actress. Her father, in particular, was especially displeased by that decision. He would even call being an actor just a ‘slim cut about being a streetwalker’.
Clearly, Grace Kelly came from money. And with that came many social graces. But even though she already had all of that wealth and status, it still wasn’t enough to please her. Much like many other young girls of her era, she always pictured herself someday being a princess, but unlike most people who eventually retire their extravagant goals and resign to the fact that they’ll never fulfill their childhood aspirations, Grace Kelly continued to cling to her dreams. But little did she know, that one day she would actually become that Princess that she spent her youth daydreaming about. Before she would get to that point in her life story, however, she would first become one of the biggest and most influential films stars of her time.
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From Philly To The Big Apple To Hollywood
After graduating from high school in 1947, Kelly struck out on her own and found herself in New York City lured in by it’s bright lights and happening theater scene. At first, she worked as a model before making her debut on Broadway in 1949.
Around this time, she also briefly appeared on television. Not satisfied with her work opportunities in New York, Kelly relocated to Southern California in search of more prolific acting work in motion pictures.
In 1951, Grace appeared in her very first film, Fourteen Hours, at the age of 22. It was just a bit part, but it was something. The following year, she scored the role of Amy Kane in 1952s High Noon, a Western flick that saw her performing opposite Gary Cooper and Lloyd Bridges. The film did quite well at the box office and was well-received by critics.
The subsequent year, Kelly appeared in another popular feature called Mogambo, in which she acted alongside Clark Gable and Ava Gardner. It was arguably one of the best features ever produced by MGM. And while Grace received much attention for her appearance in High Noon, her performance in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 film Dial M for Murder established her as one of Hollywood’s biggest starlets.
She delivered another standout performance in 1954s Rear Window, in which she played the character Lisa Fremont opposite James Stewart who played a disabled photographer who witnessed a murder. Grace kept busy in 1954, appearing in several more films, but the most significant movie that she appeared in that year would be the one that would earn her one of the most prestigious awards in the film industry.
Grace Kelly’s Marriage To Prince Rainier
Buxom actress Grace Kelly was well on track to earn her rightful place among the Hollywood elites. But in 1956, shortly after winning her Academy Award for Best Actress for her powerful performance in 1954s The Country Girl, she ended up trading her status as show business royalty as well as all of her hard earned cash for a real royal title when she married Prince Rainier III of Monaco.
This past March, BBC’s Channel 5 put out a documentary titled Grace Kelly: The Missing Millions, which detailed how the actress had to pay an astonishing $2 million dowry to the royal House of Grimaldi before marrying Prince Rainier. Adjusted for inflation, that equates to about $20 million today. Kelly reportedly had to combine her acting fortune with her inheritance to get these funds together before tying the knot with the Prince.
But before we get to the juicier details of their marriage, let’s back up just a bit. The two met while Grace was filming The Swan. Shortly after making each other’s acquaintance, the couple began to secretly exchange love letters. One thing led to another, and eventually, the two were engaged to be wed.
While her nuptials were called ‘The Wedding of the Century’ by the press, Kelly herself called it ‘The Carnival of the Century’. And with that, the tone of her entire marriage was set.
There were many reports that Kelly felt isolated and lonely in her royal marriage. She once even warned Princess Diana of Wales about how isolating it was being a princess. There were also rumors of affairs and squashed career ambitions not long after the couple tied the knot.
Before she even walked down the aisle, Grace Kelly reportedly had to ask MGM for permission to get wed. Back in those days, major studios had an iron-clad grip on their stars. They even went as far as to dictate who they should and shouldn’t date.
At the time of her marriage to Prince Rainier, Kelly was still under contract with the studio, and that meant they still had a significant amount of say as to how her public image would be presented. It’s even been said that MGM felt like Grace’s relationship with the Prince was nothing more than a publicity stunt.
Grace Kelly Wasn’t Phased By The Prince’s Royal Status
When Prince Rainier was still dating Grace Kelly, she refused to let him flaunt his royal title when visiting her and her family. According to Grace’s sister, Lizanne Kelly LeVine, there was a time when the Prince came over for dinner at Grace’s apartment in Manhattan in which Kelly made him do the dishes.
But even though she acted as if she wasn’t all that impressed by Prince Rainier’s royal title, when the two first met, she was still engaged to her longtime boyfriend Oleg Cassini. Promptly after meeting Rainier, however, she dumped the poor guy. While that might sound a bit harsh, evidently, they were never going to get married in the first place because of Kelly’s family’s disapproval of him.
Not only did Grace have to come up with a $2 million dowry before she could become Prince Rainier’s wife, but she also had to take a fertility test to prove that she could pop our royal heirs. Prince Rainier insisted that after getting married that he would raise a family.
Once it was proven beyond a doubt that Kelly was fertile, Rainier presented her with a ring. What a romantic he was!
Even though Grace ultimately became Prince Rainier’s bride, he reportedly first set his sights on Marilyn Monroe. Greek shipping mogul Aristotle Onassis, one of Rainier’s trusted advisors, suggested that marrying the blonde bombshell would boost the reputation of Monaco.
At the time, Monaco was struggling financially. So under Rainier, the nation was turned into a tax haven to lure in affluent investors and tourists. But after Prince Rainier approached Monroe about the proposal, she apparently laughed at him and called him Prince Raindeer.
Grace Tried To Return To Hollywood
After six years of being married to the Prince and enjoying – or more than likely loathing – the royal treatment, Kelly had planned to return to the big screen by appearing in yet another Hitchcock film, Marnie. The palace announced that she would be returning to Hollywood but also claimed that it would likely be the last film she would ever make.
The same day as that press release, Hitchcock’s press team issued a statement confirming her participation in the feature, but just a few months later, Monaco palace announced that Kelly had dropped out of negotiations citing scheduling conflicts.
It was later revealed, however, that Kelly actually dropped out because of tax issues. France and Monaco had a treaty that had lapsed at that time, and that ultimately affected the taxes and revenue of the nation. Rainier felt as if it would have been a bad political move to leave the country to join his wife in the US so he put a stop to the whole idea.
While her marriage looked like something out of a fairy tale, Kelly’s actual marriage to Prince Rainier wasn’t quite as magical. Within a month of exchanging their vows, Prince Rainier reportedly had multiple mistresses. Beyond that, it’s also been said that he was quite tyrannical and controlling as a husband.
Grace hated being a royal, not only because of her husbands infidelity, but also because she detested being surrounded by decadence and all of Rainier’s less-than-reputable friends.
But not only did the Prince cheat but reportedly so did Grace. If it matters, though, she likely only sought the comforts of other men outside of her marriage in response to her husband’s unfaithfulness. Kelly allegedly carried on extramarital relationships with stars like Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando.
On September 13, 1982, Grace Kelly had a stroke while driving her 1971 Rover P6 3500 in Roc Agel, a mountain range between France and Monaco. As a result, she drove off a steep cliff and fell 120 feet down the mountainside. She was rushed to Monaco Hospital with injuries to her thorax and brain as a well as a fractured femur. She died the following night after Prince Rainier made the decision to take her off life support.
While that about wraps up Grace Kelly’s tragic tale, we admittedly only had enough time to discuss a fraction of her story. In the comments section down below, let us know some of your favorite memories of the late-great Grace Kelly.
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