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Grace Kelly, Hollywood Icon Turned Princess of Monaco

Grace Kelly was one of the biggest movie stars of the 1950s known for her elegance, beauty, and acting talent. Although her Hollywood career was short, she left an indelible mark through her portrayals of cool, refined women in classics like High Noon, Rear Window and To Catch a Thief. Kelly remains an iconic and influential figure decades after her untimely death. This article will provide an in-depth look at her background, meteoric rise to stardom, royal marriage, philanthropic work, and lasting legacy.

Full Name Grace Patricia Kelly
Born November 12, 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Height 5‘ 7"
Spouse Prince Rainier III of Monaco
Children Caroline, Albert II, Stephanie
Died September 14, 1982 at age 52
Cause of Death Stroke induced car accident
Net Worth $40 million
Known For Actress, Princess of Monaco
Notable Films High Noon, Dial M For Murder, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief
Awards Best Actress Oscar for The Country Girl (1954)

Early Life and Family

Grace Patricia Kelly was born on November 12, 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to a wealthy Catholic family. Her father John Kelly was an Olympic gold medal winning rower and later became a self-made millionaire in the construction industry. Grace had two older siblings – Margaret and John Jr.

The Kelly family socialized with other prominent Catholic families in Philadelphia such as the Kennedys. Grace attended the prestigious Stevens School where she excelled in athletics and academics. She was also interested in theater from a young age and starred in various school plays.

In 1947, Grace enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York to pursue her passion for acting. She supported herself with modeling jobs and appeared on the covers of magazines like Cosmopolitan, Redbook and McCall’s.

Rise to Stardom in Hollywood

Kelly got her big breakthrough in Hollywood playing Gary Cooper‘s wife in the Western High Noon (1952). She impressed audiences and critics alike with her composed, dignified performance. This launched a successful, though brief, career in Hollywood over the next 5 years.

Some of Grace Kelly‘s most notable films include:

Film Year Director Co-stars
High Noon 1952 Fred Zinnemann Gary Cooper
Mogambo 1953 John Ford Clark Gable, Ava Gardner
Dial M for Murder 1954 Alfred Hitchcock Ray Milland
Rear Window 1954 Alfred Hitchcock James Stewart
The Country Girl 1954 George Seaton Bing Crosby
To Catch a Thief 1955 Alfred Hitchcock Cary Grant
High Society 1956 Charles Walters Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby

Kelly became one of Hitchcock‘s favorite actresses after starring in three of his thrillers. She often played elegant, glamorous women who revealed nerves and intelligence beneath the polished veneer.

In 1954, Kelly won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in The Country Girl as the wife of an alcoholic singer. Her Oscar win cemented her status as a respected dramatic actress at the height of her career.

Fairytale Royal Wedding

Kelly retired from acting in 1956 at the age of 26 after meeting Prince Rainier III of Monaco during a photoshoot. Their lavish wedding was dubbed "the wedding of the century" with over 600 guests including Hollywood stars, royalty, and foreign dignitaries.

Kelly wore an elegant bridal gown designed by Helen Rose for MGM studios featuring a high neckline, long sleeves, fitted bodice, and full skirt. The ceremony took place in Monaco‘s Saint Nicholas Cathedral on April 19, 1956. After the nuptials, Kelly became Princess Grace of Monaco.

As princess, Kelly brought glamour and elegance to the tiny principality. She learned French and took up her royal duties in education, arts, and culture. Over the years, she gave birth to three children – Caroline in 1957, Albert in 1958, and Stéphanie in 1965.

Philanthropy and Advocacy Causes

Princess Grace maintained connections to the arts, cinema, and Hollywood after her marriage. She funded the creation of a zoo, a garden, and a children‘s center in Monaco. As an advocate for children, she was also actively involved in charity work supporting disabled youth and arts education.

Some of her key causes included:

  • Founding the World Association of Children‘s Friends which raised over $9 million by 1982.
  • Establishing the Princess Grace Foundation in 1964 which has awarded over $13 million in scholarships.
  • Supporting the La Fondation Princesse Grace de Monaco which funded the opening of schools and hospitals.
  • Chairing the Monaco Red Cross which focused on immunization programs and aid to the elderly.

Her Lasting Legacy

Princess Grace passed away on September 14, 1982 at the age of 52 after suffering a stroke which led to a fatal car accident. Her tragic death shocked the world and over 400 million viewers watched her elaborate royal funeral in Monaco.

She left behind a lasting legacy as a true style icon. Her timeless elegance and beauty inspired designers like Hermes to create the ‘Kelly bag‘ in her honor. She also influenced fashion trends like capri pants, elegant ball gowns, silk scarves and pearls.

The Princely Family of Monaco has preserved Kelly‘s memory by naming key sites after her – The Princess Grace Theater, Princess Grace Rose Garden, Princess Grace Irish Library etc. Her foundation continues to support emerging talent in theater, dance, and film.

Grace Kelly lived an unforgettable life as a beloved actress, royal princess, and philanthropist. Her poise, warmth and remarkable story will continue inspiring generations to come.