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November 12, 2022

Grace Kelly: 15 Vintage Portraits of Princess Grace of Monaco in the 1960s and 1970s

Grace Kelly (November 12, 1929 – September 14, 1982) was an American actress who, after starring in several significant films in the early to mid-1950s, became Princess of Monaco by marrying Prince Rainier III in April 1956.

Kelly headed the U.S. delegation at the Cannes Film Festival in April 1955. While there, she was invited to participate in a photo session with Prince Rainier III, the sovereign of the Principality of Monaco, at the Prince’s Palace of Monaco. After a series of delays and complications, she met him at the palace on May 6, 1955. After a year-long courtship described as containing “a good deal of rational appraisal on both sides,” they married on April 19, 1956. The wedding was estimated to have been watched by over 30 million viewers on TV, and was described by biographer Robert Lacey in 2010 as “the first modern event to generate media overkill.”

During her marriage, Grace demurred from continuing her acting career. Instead, she performed her daily duties as princess and became involved in philanthropic work. As princess consort, she became the President of the Red Cross of Monaco and the Patron of Rainbow Coalition Children, an orphanage which was run by former dancer Josephine Baker. She hosted an annual Christmas celebration with presents for orphaned children in Monaco. The Princess also served as president of the Garden Club of Monaco, and president of the organizing committee of the International Arts Foundation. Grace retained her link to America by her dual U.S. and Monégasque citizenship.

Alfred Hitchcock offered Princess Grace the lead in his film Marnie in 1962. She was eager, but public outcry in Monaco against her involvement in a film where she would play a kleptomaniac made her reconsider and ultimately reject the project. Director Herbert Ross tried to interest her in a part in his film The Turning Point (1977), but Rainier dismissed the idea. Later that year, she returned to the arts in a series of poetry readings on stage and narration of the documentary The Children of Theatre Street. She also narrated ABC’s made-for-television film The Poppy Is Also a Flower (1966).

Grace joined the board of the 20th C.-Fox Film Corporation in 1976, becoming one of its first female members. In 1980, she published My Book of Flowers with Gwen Robyns, detailing her sense of floral aesthetics, symbolism, and flower pressing. Grace and Rainier worked together on a 33-minute independent film titled Rearranged in 1979, which received interest from ABC TV executives in 1982 after its premiere in Monaco, on the condition that it be extended to an hour. Before more scenes could be shot, Grace died and the film was never released, nor was it publicly shown again.

Grace Kelly died at the age of 52 at Monaco Hospital on September 14, 1982, from injuries sustained in a car crash the previous day. She is listed 13th among the American Film Institute’s 25 Greatest Female Stars of Classical Hollywood cinema. Her son, Prince Albert, helped establish the Princess Grace Awards in 1984 to recognize emerging performers in film, theatre, and dance.


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