Filled Under: Grace Kelly
Grace Kelly on the set of “To Catch A Thief” (1955)
“To Catch a Thief” is a 1955 romantic thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Jessie Royce Landis and John Williams. The movie is set on the French Riviera, and was based on the 1952 novel of the same name by David Dodge. This was Grace Kelly’s final film for Hitchcock as she became Princess Grace of Monaco in 1956.
“I hated Hollywood. It’s a town without pity. 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.” ~ Grace Kelly
Grace Kelly was born November 12, 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to John Brendan “Jack” Kelly, and his wife, Margaret Katherine Majer. Grace was named after her father’s sister, who had died at a young age. She was raised Catholic and was of Irish and German descent. While attending Ravenhill Academy, a prestigious Catholic girls’ school, Kelly modeled fashions at local social events with her mother and sisters. In 1942, at the age of twelve, she played a lead in Don’t Feed the Animals, a play produced by the East Falls Old Academy Players. During high school, she acted and danced, graduating in May 1947 from Stevens School, a small private institution in a mansion on Walnut Lane in the Northwest Philadelphia neighborhood of Germantown. Her graduation yearbook listed her favorite actress as Ingrid Bergman and her favorite actor as Joseph Cotten. Written in the “Stevens’ Prophecy” section was, “Miss Grace P. Kelly – a famous star of stage and screen.” After high school, Kelly decided to pursue an acting career, appearing in New York City theatrical productions as well as in more than forty episodes of live drama productions broadcast during the early 1950s Golden Age of Television.
Kelly made her film debut in a small role in the 1951 film “Fourteen Hours” and then starred opposite Gary Cooper in her first major role in “High Noon” (1952). But it was with the release of her next movie “Mogambo” (1953) that Kelly became a movie star. For her role in “Mogambo” Kelly won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Kelly’s next two movies, “Dial M For Murder” (1954) and “Rear Window” (1954) opposite James Stewart, were Alfred Hitchcock thrillers that opened to positive reviews and were both a huge success at the box office. In her next movie, Kelly won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Georgie Elgin opposite Bing Crosby in “The Country Girl” (1954). In 1955, Grace once again teamed with Hitchcock in “To Catch a Thief” (1955) co-starring Cary Grant. Then in what turned out to be her last film, Kelly played Tracy Lord in the musical comedy “High Society” (1956) which also starred Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.
In April 1955 Kelly headed the US delegation at the Cannes Film Festival . While there, she was invited to participate in a photo session at the Palace of Monaco with Prince Rainier III, where she first met the prince of Monaco. After returning to America to begin work on “The Swan” (1956), Kelly was privately beginning a correspondence with Prince Rainier. In December of 1955, Rainier came to America on a trip officially designated as a “tour”. Rainier met with Kelly and her family, and after three days, the prince proposed. Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier had both civil and religious weddings. The 40-minute civil ceremony took place in the Palace Throne Room of Monaco on April 18, 1956, and was broadcast across Europe. The religious ceremony was held the next day on April 19, 1956 in what the press called “The Wedding of the Century.” The 600 guests included Hollywood stars David Niven and his wife Hjördis, Gloria Swanson, Ava Gardner, the crowned head Aga Khan, Gloria Guinness, Daisy Fellowes, Etti Plesch, Lady Diana Cooper and Conrad Hilton. The ceremony was watched by an estimated 30 million people on television. The prince and princess left that night for their seven-week Mediterranean honeymoon cruise on Rainier’s yacht, Deo Juvante II. Princess Kelly and Prince Rainier had three children: Caroline Louise Marguerite, Princess of Hanover, was born January 23, 1957, and is now heiress presumptive to the throne of Monaco; Albert II, Prince of Monaco, born on March 14, 1958, is current ruler of the Principality of Monaco; and Princess Stéphanie Marie Elisabeth, was born February 1, 1965.
On September 13, 1982, while driving with her daughter Stéphanie to Monaco from their country home, Roc Agel, Princess Grace suffered a stroke, which caused her to drive her Rover P6 off the serpentine road down a mountainside. Grace was pulled alive from the wreckage, but had suffered serious injuries and was unconscious. She died the following day, September 14, 1982 at the Monaco Hospital having never regained consciousness. Kelly was 52 years old. Princess Stéphanie suffered a serious cervical fracture and was unable to attend her mother’s funeral. Grace was buried in the Grimaldi family vault on September 18, 1982, after a requiem mass in Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Monaco. The 400 guests at the service included representatives of foreign governments and of present and past European royal houses. Diana, Princess of Wales represented the British royal family. Cary Grant was among the members of the film community in attendance. 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.”