GRACE KELLY Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Grace Kelly                                                                           
Born: 12 November 1929  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.                                     
Died: 14 September 1982 Monte Carlo, Monaco                                                 
Grace, Princess of Monaco née Grace Patricia Kelly (November 12, 1929 –                   
September 14, 1982) was an Academy Award-winning American film and stage actress             
who, upon marriage to Rainier III, Prince of Monaco in 1956, became Her Serene               
Highness The Princess of Monaco, but was generally known as Princess Grace of               
Monaco. Princess Grace maintained dual American and Monegasque citizenship after             
her marriage. The principality's current Sovereign Prince, Albert II is the son             
of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace. The American Film Institute ranked Kelly #13           
amongst the Greatest Female Stars of All Time.                                               
Grace Patricia Kelly was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she grew up               
in the East Falls section, the third of four children to John Brendan Kelly, Sr.,           
also known as Jack Kelly, and Margaret Katherine Majer Kelly. Grace's siblings,             
in order of age, were Peggy, John Jr., and Lizanne. Her father was one of ten               
children of John Henry Kelly (1847-1897) and Mary Costello in an Irish American             
Catholic family (originally from Kidney Lake, Newport, County Mayo, Ireland).               
Already a local hero as a triple Olympic-gold-medal-winning sculler when the                 
sport of rowing was most popular, John Kelly's brick business grew to become the             
largest on the East Coast. The self-made millionaire and his family were                     
introduced to Philadelphia society. Mr. Kelly's large family included two uncles             
prominent in the arts: Walter Kelly, a vaudevillian, and George Kelly, a                     
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who, outside of Grace, was looked down upon by             
the family because of his homosexuality.                                                     
In 1935, John Kelly ran for mayor of Philadelphia, losing by the closest margin             
for any Democrat in Philadelphia. He later served on the Fairmount Park                     
Commission. During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him               
National Director of Physical Fitness, a post that allowed Kelly to use his fame             
to promote physical fitness.                                                                 
Grace's mother, born to Lutheran German parents (Carl Maier and Margaretha Berg),           
converted to Catholicism upon marrying Mr. Kelly. Like her husband, Margaret                 
Kelly was a proponent of health and fitness, studying Physical Education at                 
Temple University, and later becoming the first woman to head the Physical                   
Education Department at the University of Pennsylvania.                                     
John B. Kelly, Jr., Grace’s brother, followed in the family's athletic tradition:         
his rowing exploits were well chronicled. He won the James E. Sullivan Award in             
1947 as the top amateur athlete in the country. As a wedding gift, John, Jr.,               
gave his sister his bronze medal from the 1956 Summer Olympics. Kelly Drive in               
Philadelphia is named for John, Jr., who was a city councilman there.                       
While attending the prestigious Ravenhill Academy, Grace modeled fashions at                 
local social events with her mother and sisters. She gained her first acting                 
experience at the age of twelve, when she played a lead role in Don't Feed the               
Animals, a play produced by the Old Academy Players in East Falls. During                   
high school, she acted and danced, graduating from Stevens School, a small                   
private school in a mansion on Walnut Lane in Germantown, Philadelphia, in May               
1947. Her graduation yearbook listed her favorite actress as Ingrid Bergman; her             
favorite actor, Joseph Cotten; her favorite summer resort, Ocean City; her                   
favorite drink, a black and white chocolate milkshake; her favorite piece of                 
classical music, Debussy's "Clair de Lune"; her favorite orchestra, Benny                   
Goodman; and her favorite female singer, Jo Stafford. Written in the "Stevens'               
Prophecy" section was, “Miss Grace P. Kelly - a famous star of stage and screen.”       
Upon her rejection by Bennington College in July 1947 because of her low                     
mathematics scores (to the dismay of her mother), Grace decided to pursue her               
dreams of a career in the theater, using a scene from her uncle's 1923 play, The             
Torch-Bearers, for an audition into the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New             
York. Although the school had already selected its quota for the semester, Grace             
wangled an interview with Emile Diestel, the school's admission officer. Other               
notable alumni from this era include Katharine Hepburn, Lauren Bacall, Gene                 
Tierney, and Spencer Tracy. Living in Manhattan's Barbizon Hotel for Women, a               
prestigious establishment which barred men from entering after 10 p.m., and                 
working as a model to support her studies, Grace began her first term the                   
following October. A diligent student, she would use a recorder to practice and             
perfect her speech. Her early acting pursuits led her to the stage, most notably             
a Broadway debut in Strindberg’s The Father alongside Raymond Massey. At 19, her           
graduation performance was in The Philadelphia Story, a role with which she                 
would also end her film career, in the MGM musical film version High Society.               
Television producer Delbert Mann cast her as "Bethel Merriday", an adaptation of             
the Sinclair Lewis novel of the same name, in her first of nearly sixty live                 
television programs. Success on television eventually brought her a role in a               
major motion picture. Kelly made her film debut in a small role in the 1951 film             
Fourteen Hours. The small role led to many offers, all of which she turned down             
for independence and another chance at the theater. She was performing in                   
Colorado’s notable Elitch Gardens when she received a telegram from Hollywood             
producer Stanley Kramer, offering her the starring role opposite Gary Cooper in             
High Noon. According to biographer Wendy Leigh, at age 22 Kelly had an off-set               
romance with both Cooper and director Fred Zinnemann. High Noon would go to be a             
popular film of the 1950s.                                                                   
Grace Kelly was the object of the tabloids and gossip throughout her life. Her               
love life was a particular focus of speculation. Stories of affairs circulated               
from her first major role in motion pictures and eventually included the names               
of almost every major actor at the time.                                                     
Grace and the Shah of Iran became acquainted near the end of 1949 at the Waldorf-Astoria     
Hotel during the Shah's official visit to America. Grace's childhood friend (and             
later, her bridesmaid) Maree Frisby Rambo said in an interview with biographer               
Wendy Leigh that Kelly and the Shah had gone on at least six dates. The Shah had             
been the ruler of Iran since 1941, and was thirty years old at the time. The                 
Shah besieged Kelly with vast amounts of jewelery including: a gold birdcage                 
housing a diamond sapphire bird, a gold vanity case with a clasp set with thirty-two         
diamonds, and a gold bracelet with an intricate pearl and diamond face. Grace,               
however, had no intentions of marrying the Shah, and immediately sent the gifts             
back. She decided to keep the jewels and later presented the pieces to her                   
bridesmaids as keepsakes on the eve of her wedding.[8] Despite the alleged                   
brutality of the Shah's regime, Grace fiercely defended him until his death.                 
During the making of Dial M for Murder, Kelly seduced her co-star Ray Milland.               
Milland was 22 years older than she, but just as charming and suave as he was               
when she swooned over him years earlier as a teenager watching The Lost Weekend.             
Milland was married to Muriel Milland for thirty years, and the two had a son.               
Milland assured Kelly that he had left his wife, which she would later find out             
to have been a lie. After Muriel Milland found out about the affair, she and                 
Ray Milland separated and Kelly was branded a homewrecker. Muriel Milland was               
one of the most popular wives in Hollywood and had the support of many friends,             
including gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. After Kelly gave a press interview                 
explaining her side of the story, the town seemed to lose interest in the                   
It was reported to the press that Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby met for the first             
time when they were introduced during the making of The Country Girl. This,                 
however, was untrue. Sue Ladd, the widow of Alan Ladd, told Grace Kelly                     
biographer James Spada that while Bing's then-wife Dixie was battling terminal               
cancer, Bing and Grace had been trysting in the Ladds' home. What Kelly didn't               
know was that by the time filming commenced on The Country Girl, Crosby had                 
already been dating actress Kathryn Grant. Three days before the date scheduled             
for Crosby's marriage to Grant, he confessed to having had an affair with Grace             
Kelly and that he no longer wished to marry her. Unbeknownst to Kelly, Bing had             
continued to express his love for Grant throughout their affair despite Kelly's             
determination to become Crosby's wife. Crosby later reconciled with Kathryn                 
Grant and proposed to her once again, explaining to her that he had broken off               
the relationship with Grace Kelly.                                                           
In a strange twist of fate, Russian fashion designer Oleg Cassini, having just               
seen Mogambo earlier that evening, encountered Grace Kelly having dinner at Le               
Veau d'Or. Cassini, who was raised in Florence, having an abundance of charm and             
courtliness and whose ex-wife was actress Gene Tierney, became just as                       
captivated by Kelly in person as he had previously watching her in the film.                 
Kelly's curiosity was soon piqued when she began receiving a bouquet of red                 
roses every day. Cassini's persistence paid off when Kelly accepted his                     
invitation to lunch, with the provision that she bring her sister Peggy along.               
Cassini and Kelly became engaged within the first month of meeting. Their desire             
to marry quickly was later revealed to have been prompted by the fact that she               
was pregnant. "The couple planned to have a small secret wedding, with Grace                 
taking time off to have the baby," John Glatt wrote. "But at the last minute she             
changed her mind. Torn between her devout Catholic upbringing, her movie career             
and her love of Cassini, Grace decided she could not risk a scandal. So, instead             
of going through with the marriage, she had an abortion." When Cassini was asked             
by Glatt about the abortion, he remained defensive and evasive, commenting that,             
"It's too delicate a matter. I don't have to answer this and I will make no                 
comment about that. Absolutely no comment. Let people think what they want to               
think," Cassini explained.                                                                   
In a 1960s interview, Kelly explained how she had grown to accept the scrutiny               
as a part of being in the public eye, but expressed concern for her children’s             
exposure to such relentless scandalmongering. After her death, celebrity                     
biographers chronicled the rumors with renewed enthusiasm.                                   
Interviewed for British television by Michael Parkinson, David Niven recalled an             
awkward conversation with Prince Ranier in which the latter asked him who had               
been his most exciting lover. Niven began to say "Grace Kelly", but caught                   
himself in time and answered "Gra..cie Fields". Fortunately, Ranier had never               
heard of Fields and didn't realise how absurd the suggestion was.                           
On September 13, 1982, while driving with her daughter Stéphanie to Monaco from             
their country home, Princess Grace, then 52, drove her Rover P6 off the                     
serpentine down a mountainside. Princess Grace was pulled alive from the                     
wreckage, but had suffered serious injuries and was unconscious. She died the               
following day at The Princess Grace Hospital Centre, having never regained                   
consciousness. It was initially reported that Princess Stéphanie suffered only             
minor bruising, although it later emerged that she had suffered a serious                   
cervical fracture. It was rumored that she had been driving on the same                     
stretch of highway that had been featured in her 1955 movie To Catch a Thief;               
her son, HSH Albert II. of Monaco, has always denied it.                                     
Princess Grace was buried in the Grimaldi family vault on September 18, 1982,               
after a requiem mass in Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Monaco. Prince Rainier,                   
who never remarried after Kelly's death, was buried alongside her following his             
death in 2005. The 400 guests at the service included representatives of foreign             
governments and of present and past European royal houses, as well as several               
veteran US film stars. Nearly 100 million people worldwide watched her funeral.             
In his eulogy, James Stewart said: "You know, I just love Grace Kelly. Not                   
because she was a princess, not because she was an actress, not because she was             
my friend, but because she was just about the nicest lady I ever met. Grace                 
brought into my life as she brought into yours, a soft, warm light every time I             
saw her, and every time I saw her was a holiday of its own. No question, I'll               
miss her, we'll all miss her, God bless you, Princess Grace."