×
FREE ASSISTANCE FOR THE INQUISITIVE PEOPLE
Tutorial Topics
X
softetechnologies
Audrey Hepburn Elizabeth Taylor
Grace Kelly - Goddesses of the Silver Screen
2098    Dibyendu Banerjee    10/07/2020

Grace Patricia Kelly, who later became the Princess of Monaco, was born on 12 November1929, in Hahnemann University Hospital, Philadelphia to an affluent family. Her Irish-American father, John Brendan Kelly was a good sports person, having own three Olympic gold medals for sculling and made millions, as the owner of a successful brickwork contracting company. Her mother, Margaret Katherine Majer, was also actively associated with sports, had taught physical education at the University of Pennsylvania and was the first coach of women's athletic teams at the University.

softetechnologies

In her early years, Grace was said to be somewhat overweight, she wore glasses and had a thin, nasal voice from years of sinus problems. Somehow, since her early days, Grace always dreamed of becoming an actor, like her uncle Walter Kelly, a vaudeville and 1930s film actor. Her other uncle George Kelly, an actor turned playwright, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1926, always encouraged his niece to pursue a full-time acting career, mentoring throughout her rise in Hollywood. During her early years in Ravenhill Academy, a reputable Catholic girls' school, Kelly modeled fashions at local charity events with her mother and sisters and before graduating in May 1947 from Stevens School, she regularly participated in the acting and dancing events organized by the school. According to one of her early friends, Grace always had lots of boyfriends in Stevens School and she never missed any of the dances or was without a date on the weekends.

Grace Kelly

Following her graduation, Kelly enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, through the influence of her playwright uncle, despite her parents' initial disapproval. There she worked hard to improve the quality of her voice and practiced her speech by using a tape recorder. In her second year at the Academy, she got romantically involved with her instructor Don Richardson, a married man. However, the relationship ended abruptly by the interference of her father, who offered him a Jaguar to walk out of the life of her daughter. Nevertheless, as a student, she modeled part-time and appeared in commercials for the promotion of ‘Old Gold cigarettes’ and on the covers of magazines like ‘Cosmopolitan’ and ‘Redbook’. Her final performance at the Academy was in ‘A Philadelphia Story’, a role she would later reprise in the 1956 big-screen adaptation, High Society (1956).

Grace Kelly
The beauty, in black and white

After graduating from the Academy at age 19, Kelly made her Broadway debut in November 1949 in ‘The Father’ and due to her consecutive success as a theatre actress, she was cast in a number of television dramas in the early 1950. She made her big-screen debut in 1951, when impressed by her performance in The Father, Henry Hathaway offered her a small role in Fourteen Hours (1951). Although Kelly's performance in the film was not noticed by the critics, she was spotted by Gary Cooper on the set of Fourteen Hours and was charmed by her.

softetechnologies

At his request, director Fred Zinnemann offered her to play the role of a young Quaker bride to Gay Cooper, 28 years her senior, in High Noon (1952), a Western set in the background of the historic old mining town in Columbia, California. It took 28 days to complete the film, shot in the late summer of 1951, in hot weather conditions. It was released in the summer of 1952 and own four Academy Awards, but it was not the movie that made Kelly a star.

Grace Kelly

As Kelly was keen to be taken seriously as an actress, she returned to New York City after filming High Noon and started to take private acting lessons. During this period, she performed in a few dramas in the theater and also in TV serials. In September 1952, MGM flew her out to Los Angeles, where she was offered by director John Ford, a role in his next film and a seven year contract at a relatively low salary. She accepted the contract on the condition that she would be allowed to live in Manhattan and one out of every two years, she would have time off to work in the theatre. Accordingly, she appeared in John Ford’s Mogambo (1953), a film set in Kenya and starring Clark Gable and Ava Gardner. In the film, Grace Kelly played the role of Linda Nordley, a young bride of Donald Nordley, who became infatuated with a big-game hunter Victor Marswell, played by Clark Gable. However, Victor has also caught the interest of a former showgirl, played by Ava Gardner. During the filming, Grace had a short affair with Gable and later she confessed that if a girl is alone with Clark Gable in a tent in Africa, there could be nothing else. Nevertheless, the film proved to be a box office hit and it marked a turning point in Kelly's career, as she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and also received her first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.

Grace Kelly

In early 1954, Kelly began filming scenes for her next film for Paramount Pictures, The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954), about American Navy jet fighters stationed to fight in Asia, in which she played the role of William Holden’s wife. After that, she appeared in The Country Girl (1954), opposite Bing Crosby and William Holden and played the role of Georgie Elgin, the dull, shabby and neglected wife of an alcoholic actor, portrayed by Bing Crosby. It was not a glamorous role and Kelly gave an uncharacteristically raw performance, for which she won Academy Award, as well as Golden Globe, for Best Actress in the leading role. During the filming, Bing Crosby fell in love with Grace and her mother also approved the match, as Crosby was a Catholic and a widower. But, Grace refused, as she was not in love with him.

Grace Kelly

In the meantime, she was loaned by her studio MGM to work on several films directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Much has been said and discussed about Alfred Hitchcock’s preference for blondes but no one embodied his ideal in quite the same way as Grace Kelly. For him, she was the fantasy woman come to life. He discovered something more than her physical presence, he saw in her a potential for melancholy and gave her the role of the leading lady in his three consecutive films that placed her on a pedestal.

softetechnologies

Dial M For Murder (1954), the first of the three films Hitchcock and Kelly did together, featured Ray Milland and Robert Cummings, along with Grace. In the film she played the adulterous wife of Ray Milland, an ex-tennis professional, who found her wife having an affair with a pulp fiction writer, played by Cummings and plots to have her killed. It was known to all that Grace Kelly dated Ray Milland during that time.

Grace Kelly
In Rear Window

Dial M For Murder grossed around six million dollars and earned positive reviews from most of the critics. In the same year, Grace Kelly unhesitatingly turned down the offer to star in On the Waterfront (1956), opposite Marlon Brando, to keep her commitment and appeared in Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954), as the girlfriend of a wheelchair-bound photographer, played by James Stewart, who was convinced that a man across the courtyard has murdered his wife. In the film, her role of Lisa Fremont, a socialite and fashion model, who never wore the same dress twice, was unlike any of the previous women she had played. Hitchcock created a dreamlike situation by bringing her beauty and elegance to the foreground by changing her dresses time and again, from glamorous evening short dresses to a sheer negligee over a sleek nightgown, a full-skirted floral dress and a casual pair of jeans or a slow-sequenced silhouette of Kelly, along with a close-up of the two stars kissing, finally lingering close on her profile. Kelly was again praised, when the movie was opened in October 1954 and it grossed about thirty six million dollars.

Grace Kelly
In To Catch a Thief
Grace Kelly
With Cary Grant, in To Catch a Thief

In April 1954, Kelly flew to Colombia for a 10-day shoot on her next project, Green Fire (1954), with Stewart Granger and then flew to the French Riviera to begin work on her third and the last film for Alfred Hitchcock, To Catch a Thief (1955), opposite Cary Grant. In the film, Kelly played the role of a temptress who always wears luxurious and alluring clothes, while Cary Grant played the role of a retired jewel thief, whose peace was disrupted when he came to know about a string of recent cat burglaries for which the authorities are putting blame on him. During the shooting of the film Kelly and Grant developed a mutual admiration for each other and they cherished their time together for the rest of their lives.

After that, Kelly portrayed Princess Alexandra in the British film The Swan (1956), directed by Charles Vidor and in the same year played in a musical film, High Society (1956), starring opposite Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, which was well received and unfortunately, turned out to be her final acting performance.

Grace Kelly
With Frank Sinatra in High Society

By that time, Grace Kelly has become widely recognized as the perfect Hitchcock heroine and she was openly considered by Hitchcock as the epitome of femme fatale, with her enigmatic beauty, exclusive personal style and irresistible sexual elegance. In fact, Grace Kelly represented a new kind of femininity in an era of voluptuaries. She refused to succumb to a studio makeover and did not permit a change to the line of her hair, her brows and her lips or agree to be subjected to the kind of heavy makeup that was forced by Paramount upon Audrey Hepburn. With her flat chest and slim hips, she was the antithesis of the prevalent buxom blonde in fashion.

During that time, Grace Kelly was one of the highest-paid and most respected actresses in the world and in the month of April 1955, she was requested to join the United States Delegation Committee at the Cannes Film Festival in France. There she met Prince Rainier III of Monaco, during a photo session on 06 May 1955. At time of their initial meeting, she was dating French actor Jean-Pierre Aumont. However, the couple corresponded and in December of that year, when Rainier was due to visit America, he asked Grace and her family to visit him in Philadelphia. She almost considered not to meet him again, but consented at the last minute. During that time, they passed two days out of the public eye, walking leisurely in the woods, driving through the mountains and talking about life and values. The Prince was captivated by her long hair floating in the wind, her blue or violet eyes with flecks of gold. He proposed and Grace accepted. Their courtship was glamourized by the press, as a fairy-tale romance.

Grace Kelly

They were married on 18 April 1956, when the civil ceremony took place in the Palace Throne Room of Monaco and next day the church ceremony took place at Monaco's Saint Nicholas Cathedral. By becoming a princess, Grace gave up her career. She was also required to give up her American citizenship and her films were banned in Monaco. The royal couple had three children. Despite attempts by filmmakers to bring her back into the film industry, she resisted, though it is believed by many that she deeply missed her acting career and suffered depression, knowing that that part of her life was over. Even, Hitchcock offered Princess Grace the lead in his film Marnie, as her big comeback to the silver screen and Grace was very much eager to accept the offer. It was also announced by Monaco’s palace spokesman in March 1962 that Princess Grace would play the role and then give up acting forever. But the citizens of Monaco were against her involvement in a film, the local press blasted the idea and it is said that even Charles de Gaulle of France created pressure on Prince Rainier to stop his wife, as it would make Monaco appear frivolous. Naturally, Grace had no other way but to back out and announced her withdrawal from the production due to inappropriate shooting schedule.

Later, to make clear about the reasons behind her accepting the proposal of the Prince, she confided that she had been through several unhappy romances and although she became a star, she was feeling lost and confused and she did not want to drift into her 30s, without knowing where she was going in her personal life.

Grace Kelly

The fatal tragedy struck soon, when Princess Grace suffered a stroke, while driving back to Monaco from her country home in Roc Agel on 13 September 1982, with her younger daughter Stéphanie. Probably, she blacked out for a moment due to the stroke, while negotiating the steep cliffs of the Côte d'Azur region of southern France and lost control of the vehicle. As she was unable to stop the car, Stéphanie allegedly tried to stop it by pulling the hand break, but it did not work and the car spun off the cliff's edge and plunged down a 45-foot embankment. The Mother and her daughter were rushed to the Monaco Hospital. Princess Stéphanie suffered a hairline fracture of a vertebra, but she survived the crash, while Grace had serious injuries to the brain and thorax, along with a fractured femur. She spent 24 hours in a coma and died the following night at 10.55 pm, at the age of 52, after Rainier decided to take her off life support. Her funeral was held at the Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate on 18 September 1982 and after a Requiem Mass, she was buried in the Grimaldi family vault.

Grace Kelly
Princess Stephanie, Princess Grace and Prince Rainier in 1979

However, there remain certain unanswered disturbing questions relating to the accident. It was reported that the back-seat of the Rover was covered with dresses and hat boxes, leaving no room for Grace, her daughter plus a chauffeur. Although the chauffeur offered to make a second trip for the clothes, Grace insisted to drive, which seems strange, since Grace was known for her aversion to driving and the route was a notoriously treacherous mountain descent. Apart from that it is not clear as to who was behind the wheel. It was alleged that it was Stephanie, not Grace, who was driving, although she did not have a driver’s license. One witness claimed that he had seen Stephanie driving and she was extracted from the driver's side of the car. However, Stephanie has always denied she was driving. According to Stephanie, her mother could not stop the car, as the brakes failed. But, British Leyland in their official statement declared that the particular car had been fitted with a dual brake system that is literally fail-free. If the brakes did not fail, why the car was accelerating down the mountain, is a million dollar question.

Nevertheless, Grace Kelly became the first American actress to appear on a postage stamp in 1993 and in 2007 special commemorative two- euro coins were issued with her profile.

Audrey Hepburn Elizabeth Taylor
softetechnologies
Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
Enter New Comment
Comment History
No Comment Found Yet.
Nelson Mandela
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
Nelson Mandela
609
50.7
Today So Far
Total View (Lakh)
softetechnologies
26/05/2018     41364
01/01/2018     35770
28/06/2017     33774
25/06/2018     32831
02/08/2017     32142
06/07/2017     26595
01/08/2017     26559
15/05/2017     26214
14/07/2017     21528
21/04/2018     20513
softetechnologies