Even before Grace Kelly married a prince, she had the aura of a princess. Frank Sinatra once commented, “Grace was a princess from the moment she was born. ” She had remarkable elegance and sophistication that made her different from other Hollywood actresses. Some say she had an undertone of fire beneath her charm. Alfred Hitchcock, who directed her in three films, called her “a snow covered volcano”. Grace was born into a family of fame and success. Her father was a wealthy bricklayer, her brother was a champion sculler, and her uncle, George Kelly was a famous playwright.
They set a hard example to follow and Grace sometimes felt pressured by her family’s reputation for prosperity. She lived up to and even surpassed the fame of her family members. Grace served many roles in her life as an actress, princess and mother. When Grace Kelly first walked on stage as Virgin Mary at age six, people knew she was magic. She had a passion for the stage that her father could not understand. He had a poor opinion of the acting profession, but then his daughter had always been a mystery to him.
Being so energetic and outgoing himself, he found it hard to understand a daughter who enjoyed sitting still, reading or writing. Grace begged him to enroll her in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and he reluctantly agreed. Her mother also disapproved of sending her to New York. She worried about the dangers lurking in wait for an innocent girl in New York City, but Sending Grace to the Academy proved to be a valuable decision. Grace loved the Academy and worked hard there, modeling in her spare time.
She faced many rejections before she landed her first film role, Fourteen Hours in 1951. She also starred in many other films such as High Noon, High Society and Rear Window. Perhaps her best role of all was in The Country Girl, where she played the shabby wife of an alcoholic. Before, she had mostly played roles that were similar to her own personality. In The Country Girl, she broke free from this restraint to play a depressed, bedraggled woman. Many people, including her costar Bing Crosby, opposed to her playing this role. They saw her as being too genteel.
Her extraordinary performance stunned the world, and she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1954. Grace starred in eleven motion pictures before she married to Prince Rainier of Monaco. Her marriage to a prince was described as “a fairy tale marriage” and was dubbed “The Wedding of the Century. For a long time, Monaco was waiting for such an event. They needed an heir to the throne to ensure the country’s future, so a great deal of pressure was on Rainier to find a suitable mate. He found her at the Cannes Film Festival in 1954, where Grace was introduced to him.
According to Father Francis Tucker, Rainier’s private confidant, for the next few days Rainier was “all aglow”. He was obviously taken by Grace’s beauty and elegance. Russ Austin, an old friend of the Kellys, arranged for the Prince to spend Christmas with Grace and her family the following year. Two weeks later, Grace and Rainier announced their engagement. Grace admitted, “I barely know him. I don’t know what will happen. ” She also announced that she would give up her film career so that she could spend more time with her family. As friends recall, Grace had always wanted a large family and loved children.
Monaco natives were eager for the Princess to have a child because there was an urgent need for an heir to the throne. Grace gave birth to Caroline on January 3, 1957. This brought much joy to the country because it ensured the succession of the royal family. The birth of Prince Albert on March 14, 1958, made the future of Monaco doubly secure. Grace also bore a third child, Stephanie. Grace loved her children, but her daughters nearly broke her heart. Caroline had made what proved to be a disastrous marriage with French playboy Philippe Junot.
Princess Stephanie was stubborn and hard to control. Grace, who was becoming restless within the palace walls, considered resuming her film career, but Rainier disapproved. They never got to resolve the conflict. In 1982, while Grace was driving with Stephanie, she suffered a stroke at the wheel and the car plunged off the twisty mountain road. Stephanie only had minor injuries, but Grace never regained consciousness. As one of Grace’s friend pointed out, “Grace took her experience as an actress and applied it to being a princess, a wife and a mother.
She knew that life was not simple. ” Grace handled her struggles to fit into royalty, her children’s rebellion and her loneliness in Monaco with remarkable emotional strength. Only after her sudden death did her subjects realize how much she meant to them. Grace had filled her role as princess with selfless devotion. She was known for her charity work and the country had benefited with her role as the president of the Monaco Red Cross, an office that she filled with exceptional energy. As Grace herself said, “I would like to be remembered as a decent human being and a caring one. “