Grace Kelly: Woman, Actress, Princess and Myth

Grace Kelly in Rear Window. / File, Archive

It’s 40 years since the tragic accident that ended the life of Monaco’s Rainier’s wife

“The pain is still there.” Forty years after Grace Kelly’s death, her son, Albert of Monaco, is still missing. “They say time heals all wounds, I think of her, we think of her very often. But four decades ago he disappeared and the memory of him is still very present and the pain is still there, deep in his heart,” he said recently in an interview with Efe on the anniversary of his loss. Born in the American city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 12, 1929, she went from a cigarette commercial to a Hollywood star to later become the Princess of Monaco, participating in an idyllic love story. On September 14, 1982, he died at the age of 52 after a road accident, and his figure became an eternal myth.

The daughter of a construction businessman, John Brendan Kelly, and an educator, Margaret Catherine Meyer Kelly, she was the third of four children from a wealthy and somewhat prominent family in her hometown of Philadelphia. She came to acting through ballet, which was her first vocation, and after being unable to continue her dance studies, she chose to enroll at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, the city where she began her career. While studying, she worked as a model and did commercials, becoming the face of a cigarette brand.

Her acting abilities, accompanied by great beauty and innate elegance, catapulted her to success, becoming a Hollywood muse. After some initial experiences in theater and television, his first big break came with Fred Zinnemann’s Solo ante el danger starring Gary Cooper and Katie Jurado. Thanks to this film, she was discovered by John Ford, who hired her for “Mogambo”, starring Clark Gable and Ava Gardner. Her performance earned her a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress and her first Academy Award nomination. From then on everything will be successful, becoming a star and participating in some of the legendary titles of the genius of suspense Alfred Hitchcock such as “Perfect Crime” or “Rear Window”.

Her breakthrough came with a Golden Globe and an Oscar for Best Actress for her work in Country Girl, but the film that changed her life was another Hitchcock title, To Catch a Thief. Filming was on the French Riviera and gave him the opportunity to meet Monaco and Rainier III. The Prince of Monegasque wanted to meet the actress and appeared at the hotel where she was staying, falling in love with her. Thus began a love story worthy of any Hollywood script. After several months of courtship, while filming High Society, Rainier traveled to the Kelly home to propose to his girlfriend. On January 5, 1956, the engagement was announced to the world. Thus begins a new stage in the life of the actress, who retires from the big screen to become a princess. Eleven films, an Oscar and two Golden Globes are his film legacy.

the event of the century

On April 18, 1956, in the Throne Room of the Palace of Monaco, the couple married civilly, and a day later, on April 19, the religious ceremony took place. Billed as the event of the century, Grace Kelly wore an iconic gown that is now part of bridal fashion history. An elegant Helen Rose design that is one of the most imitated ever. The wedding brought together 600 guests from the aristocracy and the cinema, was broadcast on various European television stations and is estimated to have been seen by over 30 million viewers. From that day on, the actress became a princess, received 140 noble titles and devoted herself entirely to the principality and her family.

From that moment on, his style and elegance marked each of the events he participated in, and Monaco began to live a golden age, attracting new fortunes in investment thanks to the international projection and attraction exerted by the Hollywood star. Grace projected an image of exclusivity and class while becoming a loving mother and naturally showing her bond with her children. On January 23, 1957, Karolina, the first child of the marriage, was born. This day is declared a national holiday. On May 14, 1958, the heir, Prince Albert, was born, and seven years later, on February 1, 1965, Estefania, the third and last daughter, was born.

“She had what we call the intelligence of the heart, it was something that came naturally to her, a quality that was sometimes forgotten, she knew how to show herself to others and show a little humanity,” her son Alberto says of her, emphasizing “her role as a mother, confidant and adviser. “Patience, the ability to listen to others, generosity, respect for others, a certain sociability. And above all, solidarity », are the characteristics he remembers most about his mother.

Adapting to the new life was not easy for the actress-princess, but she was happy with her husband and family until, on September 13, 1982, she suffered a terrible traffic accident on the same road that appeared in To Catch a Thief. while returning to Monaco from his country house in Roc Agel. The official version established that Grace suffered a heart attack and the car overturned and flew off a bend in the road, falling down a 30-meter slope. She was accompanied by her youngest daughter, Estefania, who was 17 years old. She was unharmed while her mother died the next day at Princess Grace Hospital Centre. Four days later she was buried in the Cathedral of San Nicolas on one of the principality’s saddest days.

the great resignation

On the day she died, Grace Kelly had only $10,000 and a country house in Ireland that had belonged to her grandfather. A meager inheritance for what was a brilliant movie star. It is believed that if she had continued her career, she would have reached a level similar to that of other stars of the time such as Audrey Hepburn, who had around €85 million when she died.

However, the actress agreed to abandon her career for love, so she was unable to capitalize on her fame. In addition, as revealed by the documentary “The Lost Millions”, in order to marry, he had to pay the princely house a dowry of two million dollars. To pay such a high amount, he resorted to money from his family, as what he was able to collect during his professional career was not enough, despite the successes achieved.

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