Tragedy struck on September 14, 1982, when Princess Grace and her younger daughter was driving along the steep cliffs of the Côte d’Azur region of southern France. She suffered a stroke and lost control of the vehicle, which spun off the cliff’s edge and plunged down a 45-foot embankment. Mother and daughter were rushed to a hospital where Princess Grace spent 24 hours in a coma before passing away at the age of 52. Princess Stéphanie survived with minor injuries.
Grace Patricia Kelly was born on November 12, 1929, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her father, John Brendan “Jack” Kelly, was a champion sculler who won three Olympic gold medals as part of the U.S. rowing team. A self-made millionaire, he owned one of the most successful brick businesses on the East Coast. Her mother, Margaret Katherine Majer, was the first coach of women’s athletic teams at the University of Pennsylvania.
Grace had interest in performing from an early age and after high school, Kelly decided to pursue an acting career in New York City. Her parents’ objected but she enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. As a student, she modeled part-time and appeared in ads for Old Gold cigarettes, Remington Rand and on the covers of magazines like Cosmopolitan and Redbook.
Her final performance at the Academy was in A Philadelphia Story and in later years she reprised her role in High Society, a musical adaptation on the big screen.
After graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York at age 19, Kelly sought a career on Broadway, but she found it tough going. Kelly soon found that film was more amenable to her talents. In the years just following World War II, the film and television industries were both booming, and Kelly soon moved to Hollywood. She would eventually feature in 11 films and star in over 60 television productions.
Grace Kelly’s Films:
1951 Fourteen Hours
1952 High Noon
1953 Mogambo, Dial M for Murder, Rear Window
1954 The Country Girl (Academy Award for Best Actress), Green Fire, The Bridge at Toko-Ri
1955 To Catch a Thief, The Swan
1956 High Society
In 1955, she was asked to join the United States Delegation Committee at the Cannes Film Festival in France. During a photo shoot, she met Prince Rainier III of Monaco, who happened to be seeking a bride. If he didn’t produce an heir, Monaco would become part of France. The press glamorized their courtship, depicting it as a fairytale romance. A year later, their wedding date was set.
After marrying Prince Rainier on April 19, 1956, in a very public and ornate ceremony, Kelly abandoned her acting career in order to become Princess Consort of Monaco. She was also required to give up her American citizenship, and Prince Rainier banned her films in Monaco.
The royal couple had three children:
Despite many attempts by filmmakers to lure Princess Grace back into the film industry, she resisted, embracing her role as a ceremonial leader of Monaco. She became very involved in many cultural and charitable organizations over the course of her life.
Noted Grace Kelly Quotes:
“The freedom of the press works in such a way that there is not much freedom from it.”