Grace Patricia Kelly († September 14, 1982 in Monaco) was an American film actress and Oscar winner. As a result of her marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956, her name changed with the new title to Princesse Grace de Monaco or Grace Patricia Grimaldi. In the German-speaking world, the name Princess Gracia Patricia of Monaco or shortened Gracia Patricia is common.
From August 1950 to March 1956, Grace Kelly appeared in a total of eleven feature films, having already gained acting experience in the theater. She had her first successes in 1952 alongside Gary Cooper in the western Twelve O”Clock at Noon and in 1953 with Clark Gable in Mogambo, for which she won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress a year later. The character role of Georgie Elgin in the film drama A Country Girl earned her an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role in 1955. At the height of her career, she also had leading roles in three feature films directed by Alfred Hitchcock, of which the 1954 thriller The Window to the Courtyard with James Stewart is one of the most important works in film history. She also appeared in more than 40 television productions between 1948 and 1954.
In 1956, Grace Kelly ended her work as a film actress with the musical film The Upper Ten Thousand and married Prince Rainier III of Monaco, whom she had met a year earlier at the Cannes Film Festival. The marriage produced children Caroline, Albert and Stéphanie. As part of her duties as mother of the country, she dedicated herself to representative and charitable tasks. Two months before her 53rd birthday, Princess Gracia Patricia died as a result of a car accident that occurred near Monaco in the presence of her youngest daughter Stéphanie.
Grace Kelly was known for her stylish appearance and set fashion trends worldwide. Her presence in the principality helped Monaco achieve new prestige and economic prosperity. The American Film Institute ranked her 13th among the 25 greatest female American film stars of all time.
Grace Patricia Kelly was born the third of four children of U.S.-Irish contractor John Brendan Kelly, Sr. (1889-1960), known as Jack, and his German-born wife Margaret Katherine Majer (1898-1990), was born at Hahnemann Medical College in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. On December 1, the baptism took place at St. Bridget”s Roman Catholic Church in the East Falls neighborhood. The parents chose the first name Grace in memory of an aunt of the same name who died at an early age. Grace Kelly herself later provided an additional explanation by referring to the Mother Goose nursery rhyme A Week of Birthdays, popular in the USA, according to which all children born on a Tuesday are “full of grace”.
Jack Kelly”s ancestors were of Irish descent; his father John Henry Kelly emigrated from County Mayo in Ireland to Rutland in the US state of Vermont in the mid-19th century. As the second youngest of ten children, Jack Kelly worked his way up from bricklayer to entrepreneur and generated millions in sales with his company Kelly for Brickwork in the 1920s. He was also a successful rower from his teenage years. After winning several national titles, he captured a total of three gold medals at the 1920 and 1924 Summer Olympics. His political career peaked in 1935 as the Democratic candidate in the election for mayor of Philadelphia. Despite Republican dominance in the years before, he narrowly failed. Likewise, Kelly was denied advancement into the elite circles of Philadelphia society. His possessions and outstanding athletic achievements could not level the class divide, which at the time was based largely on divergent background and denomination.
Margaret Majer”s father Carl Majer lived in Schloss Helmsdorf in Immenstaad on Lake Constance before emigrating to Philadelphia and marrying Margaretha Berg, born in Heppenheim on July 10, 1870, in 1896. Jack Kelly met Margaret Majer in 1914 at a swimming club for which she competed successfully at the time. In the early 1920s, she earned a degree in physical education from Temple University and taught as the first instructor of physical education at the University of Pennsylvania. She also appeared for a time in front of the camera as a model. After converting to Catholicism, she became the wife of Jack Kelly on January 30, 1924.
Grace”s older brother John Brendan Kelly Jr. (1927-1985), known as Kell, succeeded his father as a rower. He competed in four Summer Olympics in 1948, 1952, 1956, and 1960, winning a bronze medal in 1956. Sisters Margaret Katherine Kelly (1925-1991), called Peggy, and Elizabeth Anne Kelly (1933-2009), called Lizanne, also emulated their parents and were among the best athletes during their school years.
Two of Grace”s uncles were well-known performers. Stage and film actor Walter C. Kelly (1873-1939) made a name for himself especially in the entertainment theater known as vaudeville. George Kelly (1887-1974) published as a writer, among others, satirical comedies such as The Torch-Bearers as well as The Show-off and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1926 for the drama Craig”s Wife.
Childhood and youth
In 1927, shortly after the birth of their son, the family moved into a 17-room mansion built by Kelly”s contractor on Henry Avenue (40° 1′ 5.7″ N, 75° 11′ 21″ W40.0182388889-75.1891611111). Although Grace Kelly was born just days after Black Thursday – it triggered the severe economic crisis in the United States known as the Great Depression – the social decline of many of her countrymen barely touched the Kellys. Jack had invested his fortune conservatively, keeping both the mansion in East Falls and the vacation home in Ocean City mortgage-free. In addition to a tennis court, other facilities for active recreation were available on the property. Servants took care of the household and garden, and the children wore dignified clothing.
Grace was brought up strictly by her parents. Discipline, ambition and determination were considered virtues in the sports-mad family, to which even the sensitive and introverted second youngest daughter had to submit. Her mother referred to the children as “Prussian generals” because of their German-born parents. Their loyalty to principle was reflected in aloofness and sometimes expressed in a coldness of feeling toward their children as well. In early childhood, Grace was prone to illness and showed little interest in her father”s ambitions, although as she grew older she performed well in sports such as tennis, swimming, and field hockey, and also took ballet lessons. It was only in later years that Grace developed ambition in her personal and professional life, based on a continuing need to win her father”s approval.
Because of nearsightedness, she had to wear glasses from about the age of twelve. Her shyness was initially misinterpreted by those around her as arrogance, although her true character revealed strength of will coupled with diplomatic skills. Fighting with her siblings for the hierarchy in the family, Grace withdrew into a fantasy world and began to live out her artistic inclinations, first in domestic puppetry and in writing poetic verse.
Her fondness for acting also manifested itself in her youth. At the age of twelve, she acted with her older sister Peggy at the Old Academy Players theater near East Falls. Years later, she took a role in a performance of The Torch-Bearers, a stage play written by her uncle George in 1922. Alluding to the name of the work, a reviewer for a local newspaper wrote, “It appeared as if Grace Kelly should become the theatrical torch-bearer for her family.” (German: “It quite appears as if Grace Kelly should become the theatrical torch-bearer for her family.”)
From 1934 to 1943, Grace attended Ravenhill School, run by nuns, where she showcased her acting talents at the annual Nativity play. She then transferred to Stevens Public High School in the Germantown district. As a teenager, she developed an intimate friendship during this time with Harper Davis, two years her senior, who attended a neighboring school with her brother and became seriously ill in 1946. Grace graduated from high school in May 1947; her yearbook photo bears the prophetic caption, “She is very likely to become a stage or screen star.” (German: “She will most likely become a stage or screen star.”)
Acting training and theater
After graduating from high school, Grace Kelly applied to the renowned dramatic faculty of Bennington College in Vermont, but was not admitted due to stricter admission requirements. She then sought admission to the renowned American Academy of Dramatic Arts acting school in New York City. Her kinship with George Kelly helped her get an audition date, despite an expired enrollment deadline. With an excerpt from her uncle”s work The Torch-Bearers, she won over Emile Diestel, the secretary of the board of directors, who particularly noted her stage presence and flair for drama. On the other hand, nasal speaking as a result of recurrent sinusitis from childhood days was an obstacle to her career aspirations. From then on, with the help of intensive vocal exercises, she worked on improving her pronunciation as part of her training. Kelly moved to the women-only Barbizon Hotel for Women in New York (40° 45′ 55.2″ N, 73° 57′ 58.7″ W40.7653472222-73.966291666667), which was characterized by conservative rules of conduct, and in later years was also home to Candice Bergen and Liza Minnelli.
In 1948, a fellow student arranged an appointment for her with a photographer who designed covers for Redbook magazine. For her first job as a model, Kelly received a fee of $7.50 per hour, which soon increased to $25 and made her less dependent on her parents” support to pay for her studies. She was later featured on the covers of other magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Ladies” Home Journal. The image as a “preppy girl next door” got her advertising gigs for household and consumer items such as typewriters, laundry detergent, cigarettes and beer, but on the other hand did not meet the standards of the time for a career as a mannequin in haute couture. After a year, Kelly became one of the highest-paid models in New York City, with a weekly salary of about $400.
In her second semester, Kelly met acting teacher and theater director Don Richardson. He later directed the comedy The Philadelphia Story, with which she graduated in 1949 and which was remade as a musical in 1956 with her in the leading role. She had to end her relationship with Richardson, who was nine years older and on the verge of divorce, under pressure from her parents. The two remained friends for life after that. After graduation, she temporarily left New York and appeared on stage as a performer in the amateur theater Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope. On November 16, 1949, she made her Broadway debut alongside Raymond Massey and Mady Christians in The Father of August Strindberg. After 69 performances and moderate success with audiences as well as critics, the play was cancelled. During this time, Kelly had several affairs, including one with Pakistani prince Aly Khan. After two years without an engagement in the theater, Kelly appeared in several NBC and CBS live television productions in the early 1950s, including Kraft Television Theatre, The Philco Television Playhouse, Westinghouse Studio One, Lights Out, Robert Montgomery Presents, and Lux Video Theatre.
Through the agency of the theatrical agent Edith Van Cleve, who had represented Grace Kelly in business matters since the early 1950s, the film industry in Hollywood became aware of the young actress. Screen tests with director Gregory Ratoff did not initially earn her a role in the later film Taxi, but in the following years she aroused the interest of other filmmakers. She first appeared on camera in August 1950 with a small role in the film drama Fourteen Hours, directed by Henry Hathaway, after her performance in the Broadway play The Father impressed producer Sol C. Siegel. Kelly played Louise Ann Fuller, a young woman staying in a lawyer”s office and contemplating divorce from her husband in the face of nerve-wracking events in the high-rise building across the street. The cameo earned her a $500 fee and lasted just over two minutes in the commercially unsuccessful production, which took two days to shoot. On the film set at the 20th Century Fox studio lot in Los Angeles, she met Gary Cooper, who would become her film partner a few months later. In the summer of 1951, Kelly bridged the waiting time among other things at the repertory theater Elitch Gardens in Denver. In the ensemble there, she met Irish-born actor Gene Lyons and had a relationship with him for about a year and a half until his alcohol problems put an end to the affair. Lyons gained popularity in the early 1970s by starring in the U.S. crime series The Chief as Commissioner Dennis Randall.
In June 1951, the MCA acting agency signed Kelly. The company had already signed Marlon Brando, one of Van Cleve”s earlier clients. MCA agent Jay Kanter contacted producer Stanley Kramer, who was constantly on the lookout for young actors due to many ongoing projects. Kramer and screenwriter Carl Foreman were working on preparations for the film Twelve Noon at the same time and needed to fill the second female lead role alongside Katy Jurado. After an audition with director Fred Zinnemann, Kelly was hired despite her inexperience and initial concerns about the age difference with leading man Gary Cooper. In the classic western, Kelly portrayed Marshal Will Kane”s newlywed wife Amy Fowler Kane. Frank Miller, whom Kane had convicted of murder years ago, returns to the small town of Hadleyville after being pardoned. Abandoned by the townspeople, Kane must stand alone against Miller and his three companions. Amy, a Quaker, rejects violence out of religious conviction and leaves her husband after an argument. When the first shot is fired, she anxiously jumps off the departing train. At the end of the showdown, she overcomes her pacifist principles and shoots one of the bandits, saving the life of her cornered husband. Filming in California in the fall of 1951 lasted just under five weeks. Kelly spent 22 shooting days on the set and received a weekly salary of $750. She was self-critical about the result of her work during the rehearsal screening, although Zinnemann had deliberately adapted her reserved acting style to the role of the Quaker bride. For Kelly, the film, which was highly praised by critics and won four Oscars, marked her breakthrough as a film actress in retrospect, despite her undercooled screen presence.
In late 1951, Kelly returned to New York City and took acting lessons with Sanford Meisner to refine her technique. In addition, further appearances on television and in the theater followed at short intervals before a new offer thwarted her future plans in the fall of 1952. Following the success of the adventure film King Solomon”s Diamonds, the film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and director John Ford planned to remake the 1932 film drama Jungle in the Storm under the title Mogambo. Clark Gable was again slated for the male lead, this time alongside Ava Gardner. In their search for another actress, MGM executive Dore Schary and producer Sam Zimbalist stumbled upon Taxi”s screen test. The executives negotiated a seven-year deal with MCA that required Kelly to star in three films a year and included the possibility of distribution to other studios. Before signing, MGM had to make some concessions. Kelly, in a departure from the custom of the time, insisted on being allowed to take a regular year off from filming and to keep her residence in New York City. On the other hand, the prospect of working with Gable and Ford, as well as the exotic locations in Africa, kept her from negotiating the initially unattractive weekly salary of $750 compared to a full-time job as a mannequin. Filming in Uganda, Tanganyika and Kenya was completed in February 1953. The team traveled to Europe for interior filming and worked at Britain”s Borehamwood Studios until the end of 1953. Kelly played Linda Nordley, the brittle wife of an anthropologist (Donald Sinden) who enlists the services of big-game hunter Victor Marswell (Clark Gable) for his studies. Traveling to the distant territory of the mountain gorillas, they are accompanied by the spirited Ellinor Kelly (Ava Gardner), who had previously been stranded at Marswell”s animal capturing station. A love triangle develops between Marswell and the two women, marked by secrecy and jealousy. In the end, Linda remains faithful to her husband, while Marswell and Kelly come together. Much like Zinnemann, Ford was sparing with direction, leaving the actors to fend for themselves as much as possible with his unpolished style. Kelly and Gable, who was on the verge of divorce from his fourth wife and also struggling with physical ailments, often went their separate ways while in Africa. Whether the flirtation turned into romance is disputed among contemporary witnesses and biographers alike. The film was well received by audiences and grossed a respectable five million U.S. dollars after its initial release. Kelly received a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress.
The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio subsequently loaned her out repeatedly to other film studios such as Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures for up to $50,000 per film. She accepted the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for A Country Girl on March 30, 1955. In the film drama by George Seaton, she played the wife of an alcoholic. In the same year, she appeared again in Green Fire (1954) by Andrew Marton.
Alfred Hitchcock got Grace Kelly in front of the camera three times in just two years. Their collaboration began in 1954 with On a Murder Call. The plot takes place almost exclusively in one room. Director and cinematographer experimented with new 3D shooting possibilities. The director appreciated Kelly”s qualities and considered her ideal casting for his female leads. Kelly showed desire, devotion and passion behind a cool facade, always appearing stylish and elegant, and became the ideal typical Hitchcock heroine of the 1950s. In 1954, Hitchcock and Kelly worked together again for the classic The Window to the Courtyard. Here Grace Kelly played the elegant mistress of Jeff (James Stewart), a photojournalist confined to a wheelchair because of his plaster leg. The actress”s performance was highly praised by critics. Over the Roofs of Nice was her last work with Alfred Hitchcock. There, in 1955, she played millionairess Frances Stevens, who lustily ensnares John Robie (Cary Grant), a master thief who only seems disinterested. Since Kelly did not work as an actress after her marriage, Hitchcock hired actresses like Vera Miles, Kim Novak, Eva Marie Saint or Tippi Hedren, who resembled her in type, for his following films.
In the USA, the romantic comedy The Swan was made in 1956, directed by Charles Vidor. Kelly impersonated a princess in whom the crown prince (Alec Guinness) chosen for marriage is apparently not interested. Also successful with audiences was the musical film The Upper Ten Thousand. Grace Kelly played the beautiful rich woman Daisy Cord, who first has to discover her true feelings, with composure, humor and a sense of depth. In the musical by Cole Porter, she sang the duet True Love together with Bing Crosby. It was also released as a single and earned them both a gold record.
Wedding with Prince Rainier III.
Grace Kelly met Prince Rainier III of Monaco on May 6, 1955, on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival. Exhausted after six films in a year and a half, she had reluctantly accepted an invitation from the festival organizers to screen the Oscar-winning film A Country Girl as a representative of the United States. On the occasion of the visit, the French magazine Paris Match, under the auspices of film editor Pierre Galante – then husband of actress Olivia de Havilland, who was also present in Cannes – organized a meeting between the Prince and the Hollywood star at the Prince”s Palace of Monaco as its cover story. The first meeting took place under difficult conditions: A nationwide power outage following a strike affected preparations for the event, as did a traffic accident on the way there and the prince”s nearly hour-long delay due to other commitments. Against all odds, observers said a mutual sympathy developed during the subsequent tour of the private zoo and palace gardens, which was accompanied by photographers. While Kelly described the prince as “so charming” after the visit, Rainier, for his part, announced plans to travel to Manhattan for the A Night in Monte Carlo charity ball in January 1956. In the months that followed, the two kept in frequent correspondence, and Rainier began to flesh out his intentions. The bachelor traveled to Philadelphia on December 15, 1955, after finishing filming The Swan, and paid his respects to the Kellys on Christmas Day. The formal marriage proposal followed three days later after a private dinner at New York”s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Around the same time, Kelly ended a loose relationship with fashion designer Oleg Cassini. On January 5, 1956, the engagement to Prince Rainier was officially announced at a press conference at the Kellys” home. The bride”s dowry, negotiated after lengthy talks, amounted to two million US dollars and was paid half by Kelly and half by her father.
Kelly returned to Hollywood in mid-January 1956 to direct the musical film The Upper Ten Thousand. In her last public appearance before leaving the United States, she presented Ernest Borgnine with the Best Actor in a Leading Role award at the Academy Awards on March 21, 1956. In exchange for releasing Kelly from commitments to the planned film comedy Why Did I Say Yes, the MGM studio was given exclusive film rights to the wedding. The documentary The Wedding in Monaco was released in U.S. theaters shortly after the event. In addition, the film studio covered the cost of the wedding gown, made by costume designer Helen Rose from Brussels Rosaline lace and costing just under $8,000.On April 4, 1956, Kelly boarded the passenger liner Constitution in New York. In addition to family members and friends, over 100 journalists accompanied the future mother of the country on the eight-day sea voyage to Monaco. Upon arrival in Hercules Bay off the Principality, Kelly was met by Rainier on his yacht Deo Juvante II and later welcomed ashore by some 20,000 locals and tourists. On the morning of April 18, the civil ceremony took place in the throne room of the palace in the presence of about 100 guests, including dignitaries and representatives from 25 countries. The half-hour ceremony was broadcast throughout Europe by a television crew. After a reception for the 3,000 Monegasque citizens in the palace”s Court of Honor, the festivities ended in the evening with a gala and ballet performance in the Opera House. One day after the civil marriage, Grace and Rainier were married by Bishop Gilles Barthe at around 10:00 am on April 19 in Monaco Cathedral. Among the 600 guests were former Egyptian King Faruq, Aga Khan III, Aristotle Onassis with daughter Christina, U.S. actresses Gloria Swanson and Ava Gardner, and British actor David Niven. One of the six bridesmaids was Kelly”s longtime friend Rita Gam. However, both the European aristocracy and high-ranking politicians stayed away from the event. More than 30 million television viewers in nine countries watched the U.S. film actress Grace Kelly become Princess Gracia Patricia of Monaco. On the same day, the newlyweds set off on a seven-week honeymoon in the Mediterranean aboard the princely yacht.
Princess of Monaco
On January 23, 1957, Princess Gracia Patricia gave birth to her daughter Caroline Louise Marguerite. According to the bilateral treaty with France of 1918 on the protectorate relationship of both states, Monaco”s sovereignty remained guaranteed by ensuring the succession. Five months later, the Princess became pregnant again and gave birth to her son Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre on March 14, 1958, displacing his sister as heiress. According to the constitutional law of Monaco at the time, until the birth of a male offspring, the eldest child succeeded the Prince first. Gracia Patricia took the upbringing of her children largely into her own hands and set up a kindergarten in the palace, following the example of Jacqueline Kennedy, the wife of the U.S. president. While Caroline inherited most of her father”s character traits in her volatility and willfulness, Albert, like his mother, was calm and determined. The early childhood years of the future heir to the throne were already marked by the prospect of taking Rainier”s place as head of state in later years.
Despite the birth of the children, life in the palace was difficult for the princess in the early years. The new role as wife after the end of her career as an actress resulted in a loss of orientation, which could hardly be compensated for even by tasks such as modernizing the hospital, the old people”s home, and the palace rooms and the Roc Agel vacation domicile. Moreover, she was initially unable to cope with the compulsion to observe courtly etiquette and Rainier”s authority. In his role as monarch, the prince was not accustomed to compromise and made no exception even in disagreements with his wife. Since Gracia Patricia understood and spoke the French language poorly, she kept a low profile at events such as audiences and receptions. Observers interpreted this behavior as haughty and brusque. In addition, there were financial and political problems that threatened the existence of the principality from the early 1950s. The important income from the casinos declined due to increasing competition on the French Riviera. Conflicts with the Monegasque National Council as well as the shipowner Aristotle Onassis caused uncertainty. The Greek businessman acquired a majority stake in Société des bains de mer (SBM), the state-owned hotel and casino group, through share purchases in 1955 and later saved the country”s largest bank from bankruptcy. With control of SBM as Monaco”s most powerful organization, Onassis initiated the principality”s economic upswing, but on the other hand he quarreled incessantly with Rainier, who feared losing power, over strategically important decisions. It was not until 1966 that the prince succeeded in disempowering Onassis again by increasing the capital of SBM so that he could shape Monaco”s future according to his wishes. Previously, he had threatened to nationalize Onassis” property. Nevertheless, the scope of the renewal programs sometimes caused displeasure among his wife, who followed the transformation of the principality from an aesthetic point of view with suspicion.
In the summer of 1960, John B. Kelly fell ill with stomach cancer and died shortly thereafter. The death of her father and two miscarriages caused Gracia Patricia to fall into depression, which prompted Rainier to allow his wife a temporary return to the film business. After she had already made a guest appearance four years earlier in the production Glück und Liebe in Monaco, directed by Hermann Leitner, Alfred Hitchcock planned a film project called Marnie for the summer of 1962. However, the screenplay about a kleptomaniac whose pathological behavior is simultaneously accompanied by a fear of intimacy and stems from formative experiences in her childhood was considered sensitive. The official announcement of the princess” impending comeback also left unanswered questions and provoked resistance from the local press. Even subsequent clarifications did nothing to change the fact that the Monegasque people were of the opinion that acting was fundamentally incompatible with the duties of a mother of the country. Under the pressure of public opinion, Gracia Patricia was forced to abandon her plans. Resignation now finally gave way to the realization that her recurring hopes of continuing her career were unjustified.
Rainier had to deal with a new crisis at the same time in the form of a tax dispute with the neighboring country. Numerous French companies had moved their headquarters to the tax haven of Monaco. President Charles de Gaulle ultimatively demanded the introduction of income and corporate taxes and stationed customs officers at the country”s borders. Since Monaco was economically dependent on tourism and supply-wise on France, the prince averted the attack on tax exemption and the threatened loss of autonomy with a compromise.
In the mid-1960s, insight into the immutability of her circumstances began to triumph over doubt. By 1963, Gracia Patricia was fluent in French and had gained confidence in dealing with her subjects and servants. She had also become accustomed to the court ceremonial and the southern mentality of the Monegasques. Although her charisma no longer reached movie audiences, it was of central importance for the economic development of the principality. Since Monaco had no riches such as mineral resources or a major seaport, the attraction for tourists and investors had to be conveyed in a different way. Thanks to the presence of the princess, the country, which was suffering from the aftermath of the war, had achieved a high profile. People from all over the world spent their vacations there, and banking and real estate transactions contributed their share to a surge in the Principality”s income. By the end of the 1960s, tourism had increased tenfold from about 77,000 visitors a year before the wedding. Reliance on gambling was reduced to less than four percent from 95 percent in 1954. Cultivating Gracia Patricia”s friendships with former show business colleagues did the rest. Film stars came to Monte-Carlo, attracting the international jet set, the rich and famous from all over the world to Monaco. Social life culminated in the annual Red Cross Ball and brought the organization many donations over the years.
On February 1, 1965, the third child Stéphanie Marie Elisabeth was born. The birth of the second daughter helped the princess overcome past and future crises. Of the three children, Stéphanie with her stubbornness was the greatest challenge from an educational point of view. Gracia Patricia later confessed that her indulgence encouraged the youngest child”s rebellious nature. In 1967, the third miscarriage during a visit to the World”s Fair in Montreal caused another stroke of fate, after Rainier”s father Pierre de Polignac had already died in November 1964.
The princely couple celebrated the 25th anniversary of Rainier”s reign on May 8, 1974. The silver jubilee of the throne is considered a turning point in the Monegasques” relationship with their mother of the nation. Gracia Patricia, who had shortly before renounced her U.S. citizenship, wore the national costume for the first time and appeared more accessible than on previous occasions. Through numerous charity events for the benefit of Monaco, she had won over the people during the past years. In her humanitarian work, she also took her cue from the British royal family. Among other things, she established health care programs and a volunteer service to care for the elderly in nursing homes, and intensified her work as president of the Red Cross, which she had presided over since 1958. She also laid the foundations for Monaco”s enhancement as a center of cultural creativity by founding a symphony orchestra and a ballet school.
In 1966 Monte-Carlo celebrated its centenary with a performance of the ballet Romeo and Juliet with the participation of Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn. On November 16, 1970, Gracia Patricia spoke the introductory words at a benefit concert given by Frank Sinatra at London”s Royal Festival Hall. She had a long-standing friendship with Josephine Baker. The U.S.-French dancer, singer and actress was given a new home on the French Riviera in 1969 with the support of the princely couple after losing her fortune, and her return to the stage was made possible by the establishment of a fund. Baker found her final resting place at the Cimetière de Monaco in April 1975.
In the late summer of 1974, Princess Caroline moved into an apartment in Paris to take the French baccalaureate at a private school and then, like her father, begin studies at the École libre des sciences politiques. Worried about the permissive coverage of the paparazzi, Gracia followed Patricia to the Paris apartment on Avenue Foch in the fall of 1974, along with daughter Stéphanie. The French capital was to become the second home of the princess for many years, as Princess Stéphanie also later went to school at an institute there. After dropping out of her studies and returning to Monaco, Caroline met Philippe Junot, a financial broker who was discredited as a playboy, in the summer of 1976. Because of his dubious background, the princely couple discussed an official wedding ban for some time. Nevertheless, Caroline married the 17-year older businessman on June 28, 1978. The marriage was divorced two years later and annulled by the Roman Catholic Church in 1992. The princess admitted in retrospect that the restriction of her desire for freedom and addiction to control were partly responsible for the capricious behavior of her eldest daughter.
On July 29, 1981, Gracia Patricia was invited to the wedding of the heir to the British throne Prince Charles and Diana Spencer at St Paul”s Cathedral and led the royal procession starting from Buckingham Palace. Rainier had to cancel due to illness and was represented by Prince Albert. The Princess had met the Princess of Wales four months earlier at their first public appearance shortly after their engagement at a gala in London. On March 31, 1982, she was honored for her acting achievements at the Annenberg Institute for Communication Studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the presence of former film partners such as James Stewart and Stewart Granger.
In the early 1980s, Gracia Patricia increasingly struggled with health problems. Due to menopausal complaints, she took high doses of hormones and gained weight as a result. The external changes were attributed by some biographers to excessive alcohol consumption, although to these rumors only circumstantial and hardly vouched statements of people from her environment exist. In August 1982, she also suffered from bronchitis and migraine attacks after a cruise to Norway.
In 1976, Jay Kanter, Kelly”s former agent and then head of the studio and production department, offered the princess a vacant position on the board of the U.S. film studio 20th Century Fox. As the first woman to serve on the board, she traveled to New York and Los Angeles several times a year to deal with shareholder issues and budget approvals, among other things. After five years, her mandate ended with the partial sale of the studio to News Corp, the media company controlled by Rupert Murdoch. Kanter also tried to persuade Gracia Patricia to make a comeback in the 1976 film drama At the Turning Point by Herbert Ross. She was to portray the role of Deedee Rodgers, a former ballet dancer who has given up her career in favor of private life and is struggling with her fate. Despite or because of obvious parallels to her own biography, the princess showed interest. Six years earlier, she had turned down a role in the historical film Nicholas and Alexandra because she didn”t like the script. Other projects fell through in the early stages for various reasons or, like the mini-role in the 1966 anti-drug film Mohn ist auch eine Blume, were of little significance. The new project failed this time not only because of Rainier”s objections, but also because of the personal insight that she had to give full attention to family concerns, especially about the private life of her daughter Caroline. Shirley MacLaine later played the role of Deedee Rodgers.
After the disappointments of trying to return to her acting roots, the princess was offered another opportunity for artistic activity in the same year. After mediation by her friend and later biographer Gwen Robyns, Gracia Patricia accepted an engagement at the Edinburgh International Festival on the occasion of the United States Bicentennial. In September 1976, she joined actors Richard Kiley and Richard Pasco in giving four poetry readings to an audience of about 200, winning the BBC”s award for one of the year”s best poetic performances for her recitation of U.S. poet Elinor Wylie”s Wild Peaches. In 1977, she performed scenes from the comedy What You Will and a selection of Shakespeare”s sonnets in the birthplace of William Shakespeare at Holy Trinity Church. In subsequent years, she continued the series of performances with varying programs at other festivals in Europe and the United States, including St James”s Palace before the British Queen Mother in 1978 and Vienna”s English Theatre in Vienna in 1980.
In the late 1970s, Gracia Patricia, a nature lover, discovered a new passion and began making collages of dried and pressed flowers. Her arrangements were exhibited that same year at the Drouant Gallery in Paris, and in 1978 served as a pattern series for bed covers for a U.S. textile manufacturer. Although the princess left the fee to her foundation, newspapers such as The Village Voice criticized the commercial marketing, calling flower pressing “the most depressing art form the human race has ever invented.” In 1980, she and Gwen Robyns published a collection of her creations called My Book of Flowers and promoted the book on a subsequent promotional tour of the United States.
In 1976, the princess met the Austrian director Robert Dornhelm, who had made a documentary film entitled The Children of Theatre Street about the Vaganova Ballet Academy in the former Leningrad. Dornhelm was looking for a well-known personality as narrator and found the ideal cast in Gracia Patricia, not least because of the long-standing cooperation between the Monaco and Russian ballet schools. The film received good reviews and an Oscar nomination for best documentary the following year, but was only moderately successful commercially. Dornhelm and the Princess remained close friends thereafter and collaborated on other projects. In 1981, the annual flower-binding competition held in Monaco in May was to be used as the setting for a film comedy and the cornerstone for the continuation of Gracia Patricia”s film career. French novelist Jacqueline Monsigny devised a plot in which an astrophysicist played by Edward Meeks misses a scientific conference through a series of misunderstandings and ends up at the flower-binding contest instead. The 33-minute short film Rearranged was shown in a rough cut to a select group of people and never made it to theaters. Before the work could be expanded the following year with additional scenes to a length of one hour, the princess died. As a result, the planned film adaptation of Gore Vidal”s 1950 novel A Search for the King, directed by Dornhelm and starring Gracia Patricia, also failed. The original film negative of Rearranged was stored in the Palace vaults at Rainier”s instigation. In 2007, the English-language fragment was restored by the Archives Audiovisuelles de Monaco, subtitled in French, and has since been screened only once at the Garden Club in Monaco. Short excerpts were also shown in the ARD documentary Die Grimaldis – Adel verpflichtet, broadcast in 2010.
Accident and death
On the morning of September 13, 1982, while driving home from the Roc Agel summer residence, Gracia Patricia and her daughter Stéphanie, in their ten-year-old Rover 3500, went off the road on Route de La Turbie at the entrance to Cap-d”Ail on a hairpin curve for unexplained reasons and plunged 40 meters down a slope (43° 43′ 35″ N, 7° 24′ 10″ E43.7263897.402778). This area was also the location of the car chase in the Hitchcock film Over the Roofs of Nice, in which Grace Kelly was driving a sapphire blue Sunbeam Alpine Mark III convertible.
Together with her daughter, the Princess was taken to the hospital named after her, Centre Hospitalier Princesse Grace. Medical examinations initially revealed a broken collarbone, a fractured leg and bruising to the rib cage, in addition to cuts. Princess Stéphanie suffered a concussion and a fractured vertebra. After an operation lasting several hours, the Princess fell into a coma. Further diagnostic clarifications using a computer tomograph outside the hospital revealed two brain injuries. Doctors concluded that the smaller of the two hemorrhages in the temporal lobe resulted from a mild stroke that occurred shortly before the accident and limited consciousness, while the large inoperable injury occurred only upon impact with the slope. On the evening of the following day, Princess Gracia Patricia succumbed to her severe injuries at the age of 52, after the closest relatives had given their consent to disconnect the life-support equipment.
For three days, the Monegasques were able to bid farewell to their national mother at the open coffin in the palace chapel before Gracia Patricia was buried in Notre-Dame-Immaculée Cathedral on September 18, 1982, in the presence of around 800 invited mourners – including her siblings, former film colleagues and representatives of most of the noble houses. Around 100 million viewers watched the worldwide television broadcast of the funeral service.
Several speculations arose about the exact circumstances of the accident, including the oft-cited theory that Princess Stéphanie, who was still a minor at the time, had been at the wheel of the car. This claim was repeatedly denied by her and refuted by other people. She relied on the statements of property owners and alleged eyewitnesses who were in the immediate vicinity at the time of the accident and reported that the princess had exited via the driver”s side of the badly damaged vehicle. Other speculations circulated by the press about the circumstances of the death, such as a previous quarrel between mother and daughter, suicidal intentions on the part of the princess, politically motivated involvement of the southern French mafia or treatment errors on the part of the doctors, could also not be proven.
Princess Gracia Patricia was known for her diverse philanthropic and charitable activities. She set up a number of charitable events and chaired various organizations, whose support was continued by her children after her death.
In 1958, she took over the presidency of the Monegasque Red Cross from Prince Rainier. She developed preventive programs for expectant mothers and was involved in the planning of the construction of day care centers for children as well as orphanages. The annual gala held at the Sporting Club Monte Carlo has attracted many celebrities since 1948 and ensured that the institution was endowed with financial resources.
In 1962, Princess Gracia Patricia campaigned for women”s suffrage in Monaco. A year later, as one of the founding members of the Association Mondiale des Amis de l”Enfance (AMADE), she began promoting humanitarian aid projects for children worldwide. The non-profit organization, which is politically independent and has consultative status with UNESCO, has expanded over the years into an international network and currently has local representatives in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. Princess Caroline was elected president on May 14, 1993.
The Fondation Princesse Grace de Monaco was initially created in 1964 with the aim of setting up a fund for the benefit of local artisans to enable the sale of regional products. Later, the Foundation extended its activities to social welfare and cultural activities. The renaming of the international ballet school as Académie de danse classique Princesse Grace was intended to establish Monte Carlo as one of the leading ballet centers in Europe. In 1982, Princess Caroline assumed the chairmanship of the Board of Trustees and focused on the care of disabled children. In 1982, the Princess Grace Foundation-USA was created as a counterpart in the United States, based in New York. Since then, some 500 artists from the fields of theater, dance and film have benefited from grants for training and partnerships amounting to around five million US dollars.
As honorary president of the Monegasque chapter of La Leche Liga, Princess Gracia Patricia was an advocate of natural infant feeding through breastfeeding. In 1971, she spoke at the Chicago General Assembly about the benefits for the child”s physical and emotional development. In early August 1976, accompanied by her husband and two children, Caroline and Albert, she appeared as a speaker at the 41st World Eucharistic Congress in her hometown of Philadelphia, emphasizing the importance of Christian values for the development of society and the education of children.
Fashion, art and music
Throughout her life, Grace Kelly was regarded worldwide as a style icon and fashion role model for the women of her generation. As a result of coverage of the princely couple”s visit to the United States in the fall of 1956, during which the princess is said to have tried to hide her pregnancy from photographers with the help of her handbag, the French leather goods company Hermès named the model in question after Grace Kelly. She already wore handbags of similar design during her film career and for her engagement to Prince Rainier. The Kelly Bag appeared in its original form as early as the 1930s under the French name petit sac haut à courroies (German: small bag with straps, also sac à dépêches pour dames) and became a handbag classic. The products are currently available in stores as a standard model from 4000 euros. At auctions, specimens made of crocodile leather from the early 1960s fetch prices between 3000 and 6000 US dollars. Kelly was also the namesake for a special way of wearing a headscarf, whereby the ends of the scarf are crossed under the chin and knotted at the nape of the neck. This is still referred to as Kelly Style today, as she often wore the scarves in this form both in her films and later in her role as a princess.
In 1984, the American pop artist Andy Warhol created a limited edition silkscreen portrait of Grace Kelly for the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. Other Pop artists also have various depictions of the former actress, such as James Gill”s portrait as a side profile. Flemish painter Peter Engels created a “vintage portrait” on the occasion of her 80th birthday, which was auctioned by Prince Albert II on May 9, 2009. For promotional purposes, a French champagne producer used an image of Kelly wearing a black evening gown and gloves behind a sparkling wine glass on a 1988 advertising poster.
The German punk rock band Die Ärzte released a song entitled Grace Kelly on their 1983 EP single Zu schön, um wahr zu sein! which is about a fictional affair with a band member. Other artists such as the U.S. rock banks Piebald (Grace Kelly With Wings, 1999) and Eels (Grace Kelly Blues, 2000), as well as the British musician Mika (Grace Kelly, 2007) also created a musical memorial to Kelly. Her name was also mentioned in the pop songs We Didn”t Start the Fire (1989) by Billy Joel and Vogue (1990) by Madonna. Princess Stéphanie dedicated the song Words upon the Wind (1991) from the second album Winds of Chance to her mother.
On October 22, 2009, Grace Kelly posthumously received the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style Award. The award, introduced in 2003, was accepted by Prince Albert and honors personalities for their contributions to the world of fashion and entertainment. Previous recipients of the award include Giorgio Armani, Tom Ford and Valentino Garavani.
Stationery manufacturer Montblanc launched the exclusive Princess Grace de Monaco – A tribute to grace and elegance jewelry, watch and stationery collection in 2011. The company simultaneously supported the Princess Grace Foundation with a donation of one million US dollars. The presentation of the collection took place on September 8, 2011, in the presence of the princely couple and Princess Carolines.
In January 2012, French director Olivier Dahan took over the production of the biopic Grace of Monaco. The project”s content is limited to the state crisis in 1962, which was triggered by a tax dispute between the principality and France. U.S.-Australian actress Nicole Kidman and British actor Tim Roth took the two leading roles. The film opened the 67th Cannes International Film Festival out of competition on May 14, 2014. The Princely House distanced itself from the classification as a film biography in advance, calling the production an “unnecessarily glamorized” story and “pure fiction.”
At the beginning of October 2011, film producer Jan Mojto announced another film adaptation of Grace Kelly”s life story at the MIPCOM programming trade show in Cannes. A budget of twelve million euros is available for the international production. The director is to be the Austrian Robert Dornhelm, who had worked with the princess artistically from 1977 to 1982. The focus is on Kelly”s acting career from the late 1940s to the mid-1950s.
ZDF History documentary series, F 2021: Grace Kelly – The True Story.
On June 18, 1984, Prince Rainier III dedicated the Roseraie Princesse Grace in the Fontvieille district to the public (43° 43′ 38″ N, 7° 25′ 9.2″ E43.727222227.419222222). The rose garden, planted in memory of his wife”s fondness for flowers, with about 150 different species, is one of several monuments in Monaco that bear the name of the Princess. The life-size bronze statue was created in 1983 by Dutch sculptor Kees Verkade. Another statue, donated by the Belgian community in Monaco in 2004, by artists Livia Canestraro and Stephaan Depuydt, is located in a small garden near the Grimaldi Forum.
In 1993, the United States and Monaco simultaneously issued a commemorative stamp designed by Polish engraver Czesław Słania based on a publicity photo from the film A Country Girl. Since U.S. federal law prohibited depicting foreign heads of state on stamps, the name Grace Kelly was printed in the U.S. and Princess Grace in Monaco. Kelly was the first actress whose image appeared on a U.S. postage stamp.
From April 1 to May 21, 2006, the Philadelphia Museum of Art hosted an exhibition commemorating the 50th anniversary of the princely couple”s wedding. Called Fit for a Princess: Grace Kelly”s Wedding Dress, the hometown collection included the princess” wedding dress and other accessories.
To mark the 25th anniversary of her death, Monaco”s first 2-euro commemorative coin featuring a portrait of the Princess was released on July 12, 2007. With a mintage of only 20,001 pieces, this coin has one of the smallest runs of all 2-euro commemorative coins. Due to its rarity, the collector”s value increased continuously within a short period of time and reached peak values of up to 2,000 euros at the beginning of 2014.
Since 2007, the Parcours Princesse Grace has led over 25 stages to places in Monaco that played a role in the life of the Princess and were formative in the development of the Principality.
Against the same temporal background, Prince Albert II opened an extensive exhibition entitled Les années Grace Kelly – Princesse de Monaco as a tribute to his mother. From July 12 to September 23, 2007, personal objects and written documents from the archives of the princely palace were shown for the first time at the Grimaldi Forum Monaco. In subsequent years, the event made guest appearances in several cities around the world, including Sotheby”s in New York, the City Hall in Paris, the Ekaterina Cultural Foundation building in Moscow, Palazzo Ruspoli in Rome, and the Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado cultural center in São Paulo. In the spring of 2012, Charlène of Monaco was guest of honor at the opening of the Grace Kelly: Style Icon exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery in Australia. Most recently, Prince Albert visited the Netherlands in early June 2014 for the continuation of the exhibition series at Paleis Het Loo.
Since the end of October 2012, there has been a so-called Historical Marker in front of the former home of the Kellys on Henry Avenue in Philadelphia, which refers to the historical significance of the location. In September 2016, the house was purchased by Prince Albert after the previous owner passed away.