If there was ever a real-life fairy tale, it’s the story of Grace Patricia Kelly. Known simply as Grace Kelly, this iconic American film actress would go on to become the Princess of Monaco.
Grace Kelly was born November 12, 1929, to successful, athletic parents. Her father, John B. Kelly, Sr. was an Olympic gold medalist in sculling and an influential business owner. Her mother was Margaret Majer, the first woman to coach women’s athletics at the University of Pennsylvania.
Kelly’s parents didn’t approve of her decision to pursue an acting career, but she would go on to make them proud. With help from her Pulitzer-Prize-winning uncle, George Kelly, she attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.
Her early acting work included a breakout role starring alongside Gary Cooper in High Noon, but her performance was panned by critics, including Alfred Hitchcock, who described her as “mousy.” Undeterred, she took private acting lessons and screen-tested for the movie Taxi.
Big Screen Success
That screen test would get Kelly noticed by directors John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock. Kelly would go on to star in several critically acclaimed films, including Hitchcock’s famous thriller, Rear Window, in which she starred opposite Jimmy Stewart. It was her role in The Country Girl, however, that would earn her an Academy Award for Best Actress. Her final role was as the main character, Tracy Lord, opposite Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra in High Society.
In 1955, Kelly was the head of the U.S. delegation for the Cannes Film Festival. There, she met the Prince of Monaco, Rainier III, at a photo session at his palace. That meeting began a year-long courtship after which the two were married. By all accounts, their marriage was indeed a fairy-tale happy ending. They had three children: Princess Caroline, Prince Albert, and Princess Stephanie.
Princess Grace of Monaco died on September 13, 1982, after suffering a small stroke that resulted in a car accident. She was with her daughter, Stephanie, who survived the accident but was unable to attend her famous mother’s funeral. Prince Rainier never remarried and was single until he was buried beside her in 2005.