The story of the American movie star, “Hitchcock’s muse” Grace Kelly is not too similar to the Cinderella story: she was not a sissy before her marriage to the prince, and the marriage did not bring her much happiness. However, the famous actress and then Princess of Monaco spent her whole life with a “straight back”, remaining restrained and impeccably elegant in all circumstances.
Grace Patricia Kelly was born into a family that could have been called patrician if it hadn’t been in America, where there are no aristocrats by blood. The girl was not born with a bar of silver, as they say, but rather a golden spoon in her mouth.
Her father, John Brendan “Jack” Kelly, was the pride of the Irish community on the East Coast of the United States: he began his career as a bricklayer, became a millionaire contractor and a candidate for mayor of Philadelphia, and later became director of the National Physical Training Center of the United States. The young builder’s powerful torso and hands made him a three-time Olympic rowing champion: twice in 1920 and again in 1924. The family was no stranger to the arts: John Brendan Kelly’s brother, playwright George Edward, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1926.
John Kelly married a woman his age, German-born Catholic and mannequins Margaret Catherine Meyer. The couple had three daughters and a son; Grace Patricia was born in 1929 and was the third child. The children were raised in the proper rigor of good Catholics, instilling in their moderation and neatness. All the children were beautiful, but Grace inherited the best of both parents: an impeccable figure, classic facial features, lush hair. She first went on stage as a child at her Catholic school Reinhill: in a Christmas play, she was given the role of no less than the Virgin Mary.
As a girl from a wealthy family, Grace might not have worked, but she wanted independence. She went to New York, was admitted to the American Academy of Dramatic Art, went to auditions, and received proposals to star – at first, only in commercials. But she has had impressive secular successes: for example, the Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pehlevi, when he was in New York, showered her with jewelry, which Grace has kept, though not responded to courting.
Kelly got her first role in a Broadway play in 1949, the first offer to star in a movie – in 1951, though it was only about the occasional role. Her real film career began in 1952 and lasted only four years. Blond “icy beauty” managed to star in 10 films (three of them directed by Alfred Hitchcock) and receive an “Oscar” for her role in “The Village Girl,” directed by George Seaton.
Grace Kelly was the standard-bearer of elegance. She looked equally at home with puffed skirts in the style of Dior’s new look, and cleavage evening dresses, and unpretentious tops in casual style, and capri pants. Celebrity costume designers Helen Rose, winner of two Oscars, and Edith Head, winner of eight statuettes, were responsible for Grace Kelly’s outfits.
After the release of “Girlfriend,” Grace became one of the highest-paid American actresses. She led a social life, bought a villa in Hollywood, and dated men. At one time Kelly was engaged to fashion designer Oleg Cassini, but her Catholic father did not approve of a potential son-in-law who was divorced. The Kellys knew their daughter could count on a royal match. And so it turned out.
Grace and Prince Rainier III Grimaldi of Monaco met in 1955 on the French Riviera, where Hitchcock was shooting his third film starring Kelly, To Catch a Thief. Whether the 26-year-old “queen of Hollywood” wanted to become the princess of Monaco, or she just liked Rainier is unknown.
The Duke could easily be understood: one of the most beautiful women in the world, an Oscar-winning Hollywood actress, young (six years younger than her fiancé), and still a Catholic – the perfect match. Marriage to Grace solved not only the matrimonial but also the economic problems of Rainier III: it attracted the interest of tourists to his then impoverished principality and promised a substantial replenishment of the budget.