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Friday, June 10, 2011

Timelessly Lovely ~ Grace Kelly

I recently began the Monaco edition of Royal Wedding Wednesdays. When one mentions Prince Albert it is almost impossible to not also think of his late mother, the lovely and regal, Princess Grace. 
 
With the Royal wedding of Prince Albert and Charlene less than a month away there is little time to cover everything wedding related. With that said I felt that Princess Grace deserved a post all her own. In this post I will cover her life and film career before she married Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956.
 
 
Grace Patricia Kelly’s paternal grandfather, John Henry Kelly, immigrated to America from Ireland in 1867. He married another Irish immigrant, Mary Anne Costello. Of their ten children George Kelly became a Pulitzer Prize winner, Walter C. Kelly, had a successful career in vaudeville, and John B. “Jack" Kelly, Sr. " was an Olympic sculler and became a self made millionaire in the brickwork construction business.
 
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Jack Kelly married Margaret Katherine Majer, a former model, in 1924 and together they had four children: Margaret Katherine ~1925,  John Brendan, Jr. ~ 1927, Grace Patricia ~ 1929 and Elisabeth Ann in 1933.
 

Even as an infant, Grace had a delicate beauty.
 
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Grace was described as a shy child who possessed an inner tranquility.
 
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While her siblings were quite athletic, Grace preferred the quiet pursuits of reading,ballet, and studying theatrical arts.
 
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Grace began her education at Catholic Ravenhill Academy in East Falls, Pennsylvania.
 
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Her parents were always eager for their children to be socially accepted and a few years later Grace transferred to the privately run Stevens School. 
 
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She participated in several acting and dance productions during her teen years and after graduating from high school in 1947, she attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City and lived at the Barbizon hotel for women.
 
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It was rumored that Grace’s father was not entirely supportive of her choice in career and so Grace supported  herself through modeling.

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The fresh faced beauty marketed Lustre-Creme shampoo, Max Factor colorfast lipstick, Cashmere Bouquet soap, and Old Gold cigarettes.
 
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She made her Broadway debut in 1949 and also had a brief foray into television. Soon after Grace moved to Southern California to pursue acting in motion pictures. 

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Her first film was “Fourteen Hours” she was only 22.
 
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The following year she was selected for the role of Amy Kane in the 1952 classic “High Noon”. Her costar was the dashing Gary Cooper.


MGM took notice and signed the lovely young starlet to a seven year contract for the relatively low salary of $850 a week.
 
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1953 brought Grace only one film, “Mogambo”, with Ava Gardner and Clark Gable, but it was enough. The jungle drama is considered to be one of MGM’s finest films ever released. 
 


Kelly won the 1953 Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress and was also nominated for an Oscar for her role in the film. She lost to Donna Reed for her role in “From Here to Eternity”. However her photo mate, Audrey Hepburn, won the Best Actress Oscar for her role in “Roman Holiday”.
 
 
She then went on to a star in three Alfred Hitchcock classics. Hitchcock felt that Kelly possessed the rare trait of a smoldering passion that simmered just below the surface of a cool and collected girl next door.
 
The first film was “Dial M For Murder” in 1954.
 
 
During the making of the film Grace began a relationship with her costar, Ray Milland. He had assured Grace that his 30 year marriage was over. To the contrary, his wife soon found out and Grace was branded a home wrecker. She then gave a press interview about her side of the story and the scandal immediately died down.
 
 
This was quickly followed by “Rear Window” in which she stared with James Stewart. Their close and true friendship lasted for the rest of their lives.
 

The uber talented Edith Head was the films costume designer and quite deserves an entire post of her own.
 

Theirs was a collaboration made in heaven. I believe that this film is where Grace Kelly began to develop her fabulous personal style.
 
 
In working with Head she learned exactly how to enhance her most positive attributes.
 


Classic design elements began to play a key role in Grace becoming one of the worlds most fashionable icons.
 


During the time she was making “Rear Window” Kelly became involved with fashion designer Oleg Cassini.
 
 
While the two were briefly engaged, Grace’s ultra conservative Catholic family did not approve of the twice divorced Cassini, even if he was of noble blood.
 
 
In January of 1954 Grace began filming “The Bridges at Toko-Ri”  costarring William Holden.
 
 
Much was made of the on screen chemistry between the two talented actors.
 
 
After filming Grace became aware of a new film that was to be made. She was desperate for the part. MGM agreed to loan Kelly out to play Georgie Elgin in “The Country Girl” costarring Bing Crosby and William Holden.
 

It was a smart move on MGM’s part as Kelly was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her less than glamorous portrayal of an abused wife.
 

It should come as no surprise that Grace and the film studio selected Edith Head to create a gown for her to wear to the awards show. At the time it was the most expensive Oscar gown ever made. The aquamarine silk fabric alone cost $4,000.
 

She accepted her 1954 Academy Award in what I consider to be the loveliest Oscar gown of all time. She is shown with William Holden, her costar in the film.
 

Grace once again teamed with Hitchcock in 1955’s “To Catch a Thief”. Her costar, the dashing and handsome Cary Grant, would also remain a close and lifelong friend.

Not one to mess with a successful formula, Hitchcock hired Edith Head as the costume designer. The results were couture classics such as the famed Grecian Goddess dress.
 
As well as one of my film favorites, this dreamy blue concoction.
 

 
Even Grace’s casual wear was classic elegance at its finest, as seen in this delightful coral ensemble. The entire movie was filmed in the South of France, a point of particular interest in what would soon determine her future.
 
 
In April of 1955 Grace was invited to head the US delegation of the Cannes Film Festival. Eager to return to the Mediterranean she agreed. While there, the magazine “Paris Match” had arranged for a photo session with a certain bachelor prince. 
 
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After the shoot the Prince gave her a tour of his gardens.
 
 
Upon her return to America Kelly began filming “The Swan” in which she ironically portrayed a Princess.
 
 
Meanwhile Grace and Prince Rainier had maintained their correspondence with one another. Prince Rainier flew to Philadelphia to celebrate Christmas with Grace and her family. Less than one week after the holidays, on January 5, 1956, Grace and the Prince announced their engagement from her parent's home.
 

 
In 1955 Grace began filming what would be her last film,“High Society”, a musical based on “The Philadelphia Story”.

 
It was Grace’s first on screen singing debut. She went on to achieve a gold record with “True Love”, a duet with Bing Crosby.
 
 
In the film she is pursued by three gentlemen: Bing Crosby portrayed her ex husband, John Lund was her current fiancĂ©, and Frank Sinatra played the part of a reporter. 
 

Grace wore her actual engagement ring, a 12-carat emerald-cut diamond flanked by two baguettes, in the film.
 
 
Helen Rose was hired as the costume designer. She would also play an important role in Grace’s future as her wedding dress designer.
 

Preparations for the April 19, 1956 wedding were elaborate. MGM agreed to release Grace from her contract if the wedding could be filmed.
 
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On April 4, 1956, Grace Kelly left Pier 84 in New York Harbor on the SS Constitution which was bound for the French Riviera. Accompany her was her family, all seven bridesmaids, her poodle Oliver, and over eighty pieces of luggage.
 

In Monaco she was met by her prince and more than 20,000 people who lined the streets to greet the future Princess consort.
 
 
Next week, Part II ~Marriage and Motherhood.
Laura

20 comments :

  1. This is such a great post. What research you have done. Those dresses are what made Hollywood. I love that aquamarine dress. Gorgeous!

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  2. "High Society" is hands-down one of my favorite films of all time. I enjoyed reading this post. She was a beautiful lady. Can't wait for the next installment.

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  3. *sigh* she was absolutely beautiful! I loveeeeeee this post! :):):):):):):):):):):):):):)

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  4. How on earth did you get those fabulous Edith Head sketches? They are wonderful! You did an amazing job on this post. Thoroughly enjoyable.

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  5. I so enjoyed reading this as I didn't know much about Grace Kelley. What a refreshing tale and such a sad ending.

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  6. Oh Laura I LOVED this post! What a beautiful life story. Thanks for all of your work. Lisa~

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  7. What a fabulous post honey! I know this must have taken you quite a bit to put together...thank you so much! Just had to share it on twitter and FB!

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  8. I watched a movie about the royal family a while back and they made out Grace Kelly as a real partier and having a very wild side about here and not at all what I thought she would be like.

    I am not sure when you changed your header as I usually read you in Google but I love the blue!!

    bee blessed
    mary

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  9. wowo Laura you busy bee that was FABULOUS some of those images i didnt know .I knew all the films but it was great to ssee them again the dress with the black bows is quite a dress ! and the blue and the white .... Thankyou fay xx

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  10. To Catch a Thief and High Society are two of my favorite movies!
    xo Cathy

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  11. Well, you made me cry this morning, darn it! lol

    Grace Kelly reminds me of my Mama! Especially when she was younger...here is one photo of her here...

    http://thescreamingmeme.blogspot.com/2011/05/letters-from-my-heart-to-my-beautiful.html
    I hope your weekend was wonderful! I had a great one!
    I went to the Annie Sloan Chalk class this past weekend...I had so much fun and learned a few tricks on how to use the chalk paint...I will post 3 ways to use it...soon...Ill post my practice boards today or tomorrow...:)

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  12. Laura~ ~I enjoyed this post so much. Sweet Grace was my Fathers favorite actress. Oh the memories. Thanks
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

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  13. Laura, I've always loved Grace Kelly. I want to look like her someday! LoL! Just kidding. :o)

    I read your comment on Maria's blog and thought I'd drop by. Such an informative post. I will have to bookmark it. I now want to watch ALL of those movies.

    Thanks for sharing so much with us.

    Donna @ Comin' Home

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  14. What an elegant and beautiful woman. Love the photo of she and Audrey Hepburn ~ two of my favorite fashion icons in the same photo. Laura, this is such a wonderful collection of photos. I enjoyed this post so much. laurie

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  15. This is so fascinating and I am loving all the photos.

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  16. What a beautiful woman Grace was. Great photos, thanks for sharing!

    Cathy @ Room Rx

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  17. My, she was so, so beautiful! How interesting!

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  18. Laura! I thoroughly enjoyed this post! Looking forward to the next one on marriage and motherhood!

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  19. I'm so behind on my blog reading! I adore this post. She was just so beautiful. High Society is one of my favorite movies. I'm a big Bing fan and have seen all his movies. It's a bonus that I get to watch GK in some of them.
    I'm a also a HUGE fan of Edith Head (she does deserve her own post!). She was genius and I agree helped GK develop her own style. The Oscar gown Head designed is stunning. The color is just ethereal.

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  20. Thank you for a delightful tribute to Grace Kelly.

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