“Hollywood amuses me. Holier-than-thou for the public and unholier-than-the-devil in reality.”
Grace Patricia Kelly was born on this day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA in 1924. Today is the 88th anniversary of her birth.
Third of four children, Grace was born into a wealthy family of Irish and German background. The Kellys were athletic, her father, Jack, won three gold medals in the Olympics and her mother, Margaret, was the first female head of the University of Pennsylvania’s Physical Education Department. Her brother, John, also competed in the Olympics.
But Grace was drawn to acting. She modeled and acted in school plays starting at age 12.
At a young age, Grace decided she wanted to become an actress, and studied acting (primarily theater) at New York City’s American Academy of Dramatic Art and worked as a stage actress and model before moving to Hollywood. When in New York, Grace promoted Old Gold cigarettes and appeared on the covers of magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Redbook. [Grace Kelly Online — Biography]
She worked her way through the American Academy of Dramatic Arts by working as a model on the side. At 19 she starred as Tracy Lord in the school’s performance of The Philadelphia Story (She reprised the role in High Society, her final film in 1956)
Television and stage gigs followed. Kelly played 39 roles on high brow television theatre shows such as the Kraft Television Theatre, the Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, and the Armstrong Circle Theatre. The shows were a hybrid of stage performances and scripted radio drama filmed live in front of a studio audience.
After a small role in Fourteen Hours her film career took off when she played the “mousey” Quaker bride” [Ibid] in High Noon in 1952. The following year she went to Africa to shoot Mogambo with Clark Gable and Ava Gardner. Kelly was nominated for a best supporting actress Academy Award for the film.
1954 brought the first of three movies that Kelly did with director Alfred Hitchcock, Dial M for Murder. Here’s THE clip from the movie. [I think it proves what a great actress she is… not just any actress can get this much drama out of one word and a pair of scissors.]
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Her next movie with Hitch was Rear Window with Jimmy Stewart. There’s plenty of tension and murder here too, but there is also a huge helping of likeability too. There is a lot of chemistry between Steward and Kelly. It’s dark, but it’s funny and romantic too. And Kelly’s Lisa Carol Fremont is soooo sophisticated and, well, graceful. [Rear Window is my favorite Grace Kelly movie and probably my favorite Hitchcock movie as well.]
That same year, 1954, she also co-starred with [the always wonderful] William Holden in a Korean War drama, The Bridges at Toko-Ri; the South American emerald mining adventure, Green Fire; and as Bing Crosby’s wife in The Country Girl. Holden was the third leg of a romantic triangle in The Country Girl. Kelly’s performance as a woman torn between a verbally abusive, alcoholic, washed up husband and a charming, kind man who looks like WILLIAM HOLDEN won her an Academy Award.
In 1955 her last Hitchcock movie came out. In To Catch a Thief she co-starred with Cary Grant.
When a reformed jewel thief is suspected of returning to his former occupation, he must ferret out the real thief in order to prove his innocence. [IMDb]
Again Kelly’s onscreen chemistry with her co-star elevates a good movie to a great one. To Catch a Thief won the Academy Award for best picture that year.
Her next movie was The Swan with Alec Guinness and Louis Jourdan. She plays Princess Alexandra who needs to win the heart of Crown Prince Albert (Guinness) so her family can re enter the inner circle of court life. In real life Kelly was being courted by Prince Rainier III of Monaco whom she had met while attending the Cannes Festival. The engagement ring she wears in the movie is her real ring from Rainier. The studio timed the release of the film to corresponded with the date of the royal wedding.
Kelly’s last feature film was High Society, a musical reboot of The Philadelphia Story. In it Kelly and Crosby sing True Love, a song that went platinum — selling over a million records and and earning a best song Academy Award nod.
Later that year, she married Prince Rainier Grimaldi III of Monaco to become Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco. As a princess, she gave up her successful acting career, in which she had made eleven films. She had three children: Princess Caroline, Prince Albert, and Princess Stéphanie. [Grace Kelly Online — Biography]
Kelly had a stroke while driving with her daughter Stephanie along the windy mountainside roads of Monaco. The car went off the road and Kelly suffered fatal injuries. She died on September 14th, 1982.