She's remembered as a style icon, a movie star and a princess, but there's much more to the story of Grace Kelly. Click through for some amazing photos plus 50 things you may not know.
She Didn't Dream of Being an Actress—or a Princess
As a child, Grace Kelly hoped to become a ballerina. She took ballet lessons for years and, as dance critic Laura Jacobs later noted, "She never ... lost her ballet posture or a dancer's awareness of her limbs in space."
When It Came to Hollywood, Her Eyes Were Wide Open
"Hollywood amuses me," Kelly once said. "Holier-than-thou for the public and unholier-than-the-devil in reality."
She Had a Privileged Childhood
Her father, Jack Kelly, was a self-made millionaire, the owner of a successful East Coast construction company called Kelly for Brickwork. It's often assumed that she grew up in the Main Line, a famously affluent Western suburb of Philadelphia. Her family actually lived on the other side of town, in East Falls, but suffice it to say, they had plenty of money.
Her Family Was Highly Athletic
Grace's father, Jack Kelly, won three Olympic gold medal for rowing, and her mother, Margaret, coached women's athletic teams at the University of Pennsylvania. Her older brother John (seen here with his sisters at the Henley Royal Regatta) won the bronze for rowing in the 1956 Olympics.
Her Family Also Had Ties to Theater
Grace's uncle George Kelly was a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright as well as an actor and director. Another uncle, Walter C. Kelly, was a vaudeville comedian and actor who appeared on Broadway.
But Her Father Disapproved of Acting
He once dismissed it as "a slim cut above streetwalker."
She Flunked Math
For that reason, Kelly was rejected by Bennington College. Maybe just as well: She ended up attending New York's prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts and made her Broadway debut in a Strindberg play at the age of 19.
She Worked as a Model
Before she became a movie star, Kelly appeared in fashion magazines as well as ads for products like Prell shampoo and Pepsodent toothpaste.
Her Nose Was a Major Asset
"She has, most important of all, a nice nose for photography: flat, it hardly exists at all in profile," noted the renowned photographer Cecil Beaton. Beyond that, he wrote, "all photogenic people have square faces.…[Kelly's] mouth, the tip of her nose, her nostrils—all are extremely sensitive. Their beauty is effective against the rugged background of the square face."
She Was a Style Icon Even When She Dressed Down
The fashion world admired Kelly's simple but pulled-together casual looks as well as her supremely elegant evening outfits.
She Remained Chic Under All Kinds of Circumstances
When Kelly broke her arm, she used an Hermès scarf as a sling.
She Hooked Up With Gary Cooper
Cast as newlyweds in 1952's "High Noon," they reportedly had an affair during the filming. Cooper was 50. Kelly was just 21.
She Had a Fling With Clark Gable
It happened when they were on location in the jungle of Kenya during the filming of 1953's "Mogambo," for which Kelly received her first Oscar nomination. As she later put it, "What else is there to do if you're alone in a tent in Africa with Clark Gable?"
Let's Just Say She Had a Thing for Leading Men
Kelly's other romantic partners included Ray Milland (her co-star in "Dial M for Murder"), William Holden (her co-star in "The Bridges at Toko-Ri" and "The Country Girl") and Bing Crosby (her co-star in "High Society"). Her sister Lizanne once said, "Grace Kelly fell in love very easily; too easily."
She Learn a Key Lesson From Hitchcock
"Mr. Hitchcock taught me everything about cinema," Kelly said. "It was thanks to him that I understood that murder scenes should be shot like love scenes and love scenes like murder scenes."
Hitchcock, for His Part, Saw a Rare Quality in Her
"Grace Kelly's apparent frigidity was like a mountain covered with snow," the director said, "but that mountain was a volcano."
She Turned Down a Major Role
Kelly was offered the chance to co-star with Marlon Brando in 1954's "On the Waterfront," but opted for "Rear Window" instead. Eva Marie Saint won an Oscar for the role Kelly turned down.
James Stewart Was Her Biggest Fan
Recalling the rest of the cast and crew during the filming of "Rear Window," he said, "Everybody just sat around and waited for her to come in the morning so we could just look at her. She was kind to everybody, so considerate, just great, and so beautiful."
She Was Equally Taken With Stewart
Although Kelly and her "Rear Window" co-star (seen here having fun on the Paramount lot) never had an affair, she told the press he was "one of the most masculinely attractive men she ever met," according to TCM.
She Saw a Difference Between Herself and Her Hollywood Peers
"When Ava Gardner gets in a taxi, the driver knows at once she's Ava Gardner. It's the same for Lana Turner or Elizabeth Taylor, but not for me. I'm never Grace Kelly, I'm always someone who looks like Grace Kelly."
She Won an Oscar
Kelly received the Academy Award for Best Actress for 1954's "The Country Girl," narrowly beating Judy Garland ("A Star Is Born"), the sentimental favorite, and Audrey Hepburn ("Sabrina").
She Was Cary Grant's Favorite
Asked to single out his favorite leading lady, Grant said, "Well, with all due respect to dear Ingrid Bergman, I much preferred Grace. She had serenity."
She Ad-Libbed Some of Her Dialogue
Kelly and Grant improvised a couple of lines in the "To Catch a Thief" picnic scene, when she offers him chicken shortly before this kiss. She: "Do you want a leg or a breast?" He: "You make the choice."
Cary Grant Stayed in Touch After She Left Hollywood
Even after she became a Princess Grace of Monaco—a year after the 1955 release of Hitchcock's "To Catch a Thief"—Grant paid visits to the royal family in the tiny nation on the Mediterranean. Grace's son, Prince Albert, remembers him telling dirty jokes, though "he was always a gentleman."
She Wasn't That Different From Her Screen Persona
As Kelly once noted, "I favor pearls on screen and in my private life."
She Loved Dogs
Here's Kelly with her Weimaraner, an early wedding gift from her brother.
For her role in the 1956 rom-com "The Swan," Kelly took fencing lessons—both on and off screen—from French actor Louis Jourdan.
She Wore Her Actual Engagement Ring in "High Society"
Kelly was already engaged to Prince Rainier III of Monaco when she made her last Hollywood film. Her ring—a 10.5-carat, emerald-cut diamond with two baguettes—served as her character's engagement ring in the movie.
She Had a Platinum Record
Both Kelly and Bing Crosby received platinum records for their duet of Cole Porter's "True Love," a Top 10 hit from the "High Society" soundtrack.
She Made Only 11 Feature Films
By contrast, Marilyn Monroe appeared in more than 30 movies, Elizabeth Taylor in over 60. Yet Kelly remains one of the great icons of Hollywood's Golden Age.
Then She Said Goodbye to Hollywood
This snapshot shows Kelly about to leave a Hollywood studio lot for last time before her marriage.
She Was Initially Glad to Leave the Movie World Behind
"It's a town without pity," she said. "Only success counts. I know of no other place in the world where so many people suffer from nervous breakdowns, where there are so many alcoholics, neurotics and so much unhappiness."
She Broke Off an Engagement
Kelly ended her engagement to Oleg Cassini to marry Prince Rainier. In his memoir, the fashion designer credited himself with creating "the Grace Kelly look." As Cassini told it, "She dressed like a schoolteacher. I put her in elegant, subdued dresses."
She Met Her Prince in Cannes
Kelly smiles before setting sail on the ocean liner Constitution, on her way to marry Prince Rainier. The couple became engaged after meeting at the Cannes Film Festival.
Her Father Paid a Dowry
To help finance the Wedding of the Century, Kelly's father was expected to hand over $2 million. He objected, saying, "My daughter doesn't have to pay any man to marry her." But in the end he relented (subtracting the money from Grace's inheritance to be fair to her siblings).
There Were Two Wedding Ceremonies
This was the first, a civil wedding on April 18, 1956—one day before the main event at Monaco's Saint Nicholas Cathedral.
The Prince Had a Case of Nerves
During the April 19 wedding ceremony, Prince Rainier was so nervous that Princess Grace helped him put the ring on her finger.
This is Considered the Most Beautiful Wedding Gown Ever
Hollywood costume designer Hellen Rose created it, using 25 yards of silk taffeta, 100 yards of silk net and 125-year-old Brussels lace. The bridal dress was a gift from MGM.
The Wedding Gifts Were Eye-Popping
From the groom, Princess Grace received a Van Cleef & Arpels set of a necklace, bracelet and earrings. Among the other wedding gifts were a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III and, from Aristotle Onassis, a 147-foot yacht, which the newlyweds used to cruise the Mediterranean during their honeymoon.
She Found a Special Use for the "Kelly Bag"
Costume designer Edith Head reported that Kelly "fell in love" with this style of Hermès bag when she first encountered it on the set of "To Catch a Thief." Later the pregnant Princess Grace used it to shield what's now known as a baby bump from the paparazzi. The oversized accessory was informally called the Kelly Bag for two decades before 1977, when that became its official name.
She Quickly Became a Mother
Princess Grace—seen here with her newborn son, Prince Albert, in 1958—had three children. The first, Princess Caroline, was born on January 23, 1957, exactly nine months and five days after the wedding.
JFK Surprised Her
"Is that Givenchy you're wearing?" President Kennedy asked Princess Grace when she and Prince Rainier visited the White House. Taken aback, she asked him how he knew, and JFK replied, "Oh, I'm getting pretty good at it—now that fashion is becoming more important than politics and the press is paying more attention to Jackie's clothes than to my speeches."
This Wasn't the First Time She Met Kennedy
Kelly had met Jacqueline Kennedy previously at a dinner party. Around that time JFK was in the hospital because of back pain and other ailments, and Jackie asked Grace to go into his room and introduce herself as the new night nurse. "I was terribly embarrassed," the princess recalled. "Eventually I was sort of pushed into the room ... but he had recognized me at once and couldn't have been sweeter or more quick to put me at ease."
She Considered a Hollywood Comeback
Alfred Hitchock wanted to cast his all-time favorite leading lady in 1962's "Marnie," and in March of that year it was announced that Princess Grace would play the role as a swan song before she gave up acting for good. The press loudly objected, as did the citizens of Monaco. A month later the princess announced she was backing out.
She Dreaded Aging
"For a woman," she said, "40 is torture, the end."
She Was Devoted to Her Children
Princess Grace (seen here accompanying one of her daughters, six-year-old Princess Stephanie, on the first day of school) taught her children to be "polite and respectful," according to her son, Prince Albert. "Any free time she had she spent with us," he added.
Princess Diana Felt a Special Connection With Her
Lady Diana viewed Princess Grace as a kindred spirit, an outsider who married into a royal family. They met when Diana was 19 and newly engaged to Prince Charles. Seeing how uncomfortable the bride-to-be was with the occasion and her ill-fitting dress, Princess Grace took her to the bathroom for a private chat. Patting her cheeks, she told Lady Di, "Don't worry, dear—it'll only get worse."
Her Accident Was Attributed to a Minor Stroke
On September 18, 1982, Princess Grace lost control of her car while driving on a steep mountain road near the border of France and Monaco. Doctors said the accident may have been caused by a minor stroke. Her daughter Stephanie, who was in the passenger seat, suffered only minor injuries, but Princess Grace died the next day.
She Was the First Actress to Be Honored With a U.S. Postage Stamp
The 20-cent stamp was issued in 1993 simultaneously with a 5-franc Monaco stamp.
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