Grace Kelly, American actress and Princess of Monaco, was an icon of charm and elegance. Grace Patricia Kelly was born in Philadelphia on November 12, 1929. Her mother, Margaret, was a former model with German roots. Her father, Olympic rowing champion John Brendan, was a millionaire industrialist. The Kellys were one of Philadelphia’s most prominent families. Against her parents’ will, Grace moved to New York after her 18th birthday and began to attend acting school. She worked as a model and theater actress until 1951, when she was given a small role in Henry Hathaway’s film Fourteen Hours.
Her aristocratic beauty impressed director Fred Zinnemann, who asked her to co-star in the Western High Noon. The movie was a success, and brought Kelly into the public eye. In 1953, John Ford cast her as Ava Gardner’s rival in the movie Mogambo, which earned Kelly her first Academy Award nomination. She was 24. The following year, Alfred Hitchcock directed her in the thriller Dial M for Murder. The master of suspense made her his muse and gave her the costarring role in his next movie, Rear Window. Her rise to stardom was unstoppable. That same year she starred in three more movies: Mark Robson’s The Bridges at Toko-Ri, Andrew Marton’s Green Fire, and George Seaton’s melodrama The Country Girl, for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress.
The following year she worked with Alfred Hitchcock again in the film To Catch a Thief. The movie was shot in the south of France, where Kelly met Rainier III, Prince of Monaco. Rainier fell in love with her at first sight and immediately began to court her. Kelly returned to Hollywood and starred in Charles Vidor’s The Swan, in which she played a princess who tries unsuccessfully to flee her courtly duties. The role presaged developments in the actress’s real life. Kelly had decided to quit acting and marry Prince Rainier of Monaco. She was 26 when she starred in her last movie, Charles Walters’s High Society, a musical comedy starring Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. On April 19, 1956 the actress and the Prince married in St. Nicholas’s Cathedral in Monaco. The wedding was televised and watched by millions of viewers around the world. Kelly had three children with Rainier of Monaco: Caroline was born in 1957, Albert in 1958, and Stephanie in 1965. On September 13, 1982, Kelly had a car accident while driving with her daughter Stephanie. Exactly what happened has never been made clear. Kelly died the following day. She was 52.