You know that fantasy young girls have about becoming princesses? She actually went out and did it.
Grace Patricia Kelly (November 12, 1929 September 14, 1982) was an American actress and later, the Princess of Monaco. Born into a prominent family in Philadelphia's tight-knit Catholic community, Kelly decided to pursue an acting career in New York after getting rejected from exclusive Bennington College. After quickly working her way up through Broadway and early live television, she made her film debut in a small role in the 1951 Film Noir Fourteen Hours.
Kelly's on-screen acting career lasted only six years, but in that time she established herself as one of the legendary actresses of Hollywood. Her first important role was in the classic Western High Noon in 1952. In 1953, she appeared in Mogambo with Clark Gable. Her next film was Dial M for Murder (1954), a thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock; she became one of his favorite actors. After that, she worked with Hitchcock again in Rear Window, where she played Jimmy Stewart's fashion model girlfriend - probably her most famous role. Then she went against her type of glamorous, high-class women, and played the long-suffering wife of an alcoholic actor (Bing Crosby) in The Country Girl. She won the Oscar for that role. She also had a minor part in the war film The Bridges at Toko-Ri. In 1955, she appeared again in a Hitchcock movie, To Catch a Thief with Cary Grant. Her next movie was The Swan in 1956, where she coincidentally portrayed a princess. In the same year, she played her last role in High Society, a musical version of The Philadelphia Story with Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.
In 1955, while To Catch a Thief was being filmed in and around Monaco, she met Prince Rainier, and she married him in 1956, becoming Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco. Their wedding was turned into a huge media circus, and the family continues to be a media fixture to this day (only rivaled by the coverage of The British Royal Family). They had three children together (their only son, Albert, is now the prince of Monaco). She died in a car crash in Monaco in 1982.
She was an icon of style and fashion, and her influence extends to this day.
Associated Tropes with her roles:
- Pretty in Mink: She wore some furs in her films when playing a socialite. And in a film about her, the actress playing her was likely going to wear a fur coat or wrap.
- Proper Lady: Her "typical" on-screen persona, in a nutshell, though she often crosses over into Spirited Young Lady.
- Unlimited Wardrobe: In Rear Window she had a number of dresses created by Edith Head, which was commented on in her first scene in the film.
- What Could Have Been: She nearly made a return to acting with Marnie, but the people of Monaco protested against the casting of their princess as a mentally unstable thief, and allegedly the Pope himself also expressed his concern about the role.
References in Fiction:
- Mika's most famous song is called "Grace Kelly". It also includes a quote from The Country Girl.
- She's mentioned in Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire".
- In The Simpsons episode "Treehouse of Horror II", the Simpsons visit Morocco. Homer remarks: "What a dump! Why would Princess Grace live in a place like this?"
- In Stephen King's novel Bag of Bones, Mattie Devore is said to look like a young Grace Kelly.
- In The Honeymooners episode "Head of the House", when Ralph tells Norton that they have to cook a meal:Norton: After all, men are the best chefs, aren't they? Oscar of the Waldorf, Pierre of the Ritz, Grace Kelly's father...Ralph: What does Grace Kelly's father got to do with it?Norton: He cooked up a pretty sweet dish!
- In Die Hard, Hans Gruber mentions her, when he makes an (incorrect) reference to High Noon:Gruber: This time John Wayne does not walk off into the sunset with Grace Kelly.McClane: That was Gary Cooper, asshole.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus had a sketch called "Mr. Dibley's Films", where the titular character makes very short and low-cost versions of famous films, and claims that they are original. One of them is a fifteen-second long version of Rear Window. Dibley says that Hitchcock's version was padded out, and was only more successful than his because "he had bloody Grace Kelly".
- Skulduggery Pleasant has a bit of a crush on her.
- In Mad Men, Betty Draper is said to look like Kelly. The show's costume and hair departments intentionally modeled Betty's general look on her.
- In the biopic Grace of Monaco, she is played by Nicole Kidman.