Grace Kelly - Actors and Actresses

Pseudonym: Princess Grace of Monaco. Nationality: American/Monégasque. Born: Grace Patricia Kelly in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 12 November 1929; became citizen of Monaco, 1956. Education: Attended Ravenhill Academy of the Assumption, Philadelphia; Stevens School, Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, graduated 1947; American Academy of Dramatic Art, New York, 1947–49. Family: Married Prince Rainier III of Monaco, 1956, children: Caroline, Albert, and Stephanie. Career: 1947–49—supported acting studies by modeling and appearing in TV commercials; 1949—stage debut in The Torch Bearers , written by uncle George Kelly, at Bucks County Playhouse; Broadway debut in Strindberg's The Father ; 1951—film debut in Fourteen Hours ; 1952—studied with Sanford Meisner at Neighborhood Playhouse; seven-year contract with MGM; 1954—borrowed from MGM by Hitchcock for Dial M for Murder , first of three films with Hitchcock; 1965—founded Princess Grace Foundation; 1976—joined board of 20th Century-Fox. Awards: Oscar for Best Actress, for The Country Girl , 1954; Best Actress, New York Film Critics, for The Country Girl , Rear Window , and Dial M for Murder , 1954. Died: Following automobile accident in Monte Carlo, 14 September 1982.

Films as Actress:


Fourteen Hours (Hathaway) (as Mrs. Fuller)


High Noon (Zinnemann) (as Amy Kane)


Mogambo (John Ford) (as Linda Nordley)


Dial M for Murder (Hitchcock) (as Margot Wendice); Rear Window (Hitchcock) (as Lisa Fremont); The Country Girl (Seaton) (as Georgie Elgin); The Bridges at Toko-Ri (Robson) (as Nancy Brubaker); Green Fire (Marton) (as Catherine Knowland)


To Catch a Thief (Hitchcock) (as Frances Stevens)


The Swan (Charles Vidor) (as Princess Alexandra); High Society (Walters) (as Tracy Lord); The Wedding in Monaco (documentary short)


Mediterranean Holiday (Leitner and Nussgruber—doc)


The Children of Theatre Street (Dornhelm and Mack) (as narrator)


Rearranged (Dornhelm) (as herself)


By KELLY: book—

My Book of Flowers , with Gwen Robyns, New York, 1980.

On KELLY: books—

Gaither, Gant, Princess of Monaco: The Story of Grace Kelly , New York, 1957.

Robyns, Gwen, Princess Grace: A Biography , 1976.

Parish, James, and Don Stanke, The Hollywood Beauties , New Rochelle, New York, 1978.

Hall, Trevor, Her Serene Highness, Princess Grace of Monaco , 1982.

Hart-Davis, Phyllidia, Grace: The Story of a Princess , New York, 1982.

Bradford, Sarah, Princess Grace , London, 1984.

England, Steven, Princess Grace , London, 1984.

Spada, James, Grace: The Secret Lives of a Princess , London, 1987.

Cohen, George, Grace Kelly , Paris, 1989.

Quine, Judith Balaban, The Bridesmaids: Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, and Six Intimate Friends , London, 1989.

Robinson, Jeffrey, Rainier and Grace , New York, 1989.

Wayne, Jane Ellen, Grace Kelly's Men , New York, 1991.

Conant, Howell, Grace , New York, 1992.

Edwards, Anne, The Grimaldis of Monaco , New York, 1992.

Surcouf, Elizabeth Gillen, Grace Kelly, American Princess , Minneapolis, 1992.

Sakol, Jeannie, About Grace: An Intimate Notebook , Chicago, 1993.

Lacey, Robert, Grace , New York, 1994.

Curtis, Jenny, Grace Kelly: A Life in Pictures , New York, 1998.

On KELLY: articles—

Current Biography 1977 , New York, 1977.

Bowers, Ron, "Grace Kelly," in Films in Review (New York), November 1978.

Cook, P., "The Sound Track," in Films in Review (New York), November 1982.

Obituary, in Films and Filming (London), November 1982.

Jomy, A., obituary, in Cinéma (Paris), November 1982.

Corliss, Richard, "Green Fire: Grace Kelly," in Film Comment (New York), November/December 1982.

The Annual Obituary 1982 , New York, 1983.

Ciné Revue (Paris), 19 July 1984.

Stars (Mariembourg), no. 7, March 1990.

Architectural Digest (Los Angeles), April 1992.

"Remembering Grace," in Good Housekeeping , vol. 215, no. 3, September 1992.

Iskusstvo Kino (Moscow), July 1993.

Lacey, R., "Divine Grace," in Vanity Fair (New York), vol. 57, October 1994.

Mooney, J., "Grace Kelly in Rear Window ," in Movieline (Escondido), vol. 7, January/February 1996.

"Grace Kelly & Prince Rainier III," in People Weekly , 12 February 1996.

Library Journal , 1 April 1999.

"The 100 Greatest Movie Stars of All Time," in Entertainment Weekly , Special Issue, Fall 1996.

On KELLY: film—

Grace Kelly , television movie, directed by Anthony Page, 1983.

* * *

Grace Kelly's career as a film actress was brief (1951–56), her rise meteoric, her end abrupt. At the height of her career, she married Prince Rainier of Monaco and never again acted in a film—although Alfred Hitchcock attempted to draw her out of retirement to make a comeback as the star of his film Marnie . Some sources say the former actress-turned-royalty was tempted, but that her prince scotched the idea. Tippi Hedren got the role.

Despite the brief five-year span of her career, and only 11 films, she captured the imagination of the moviegoing audience with her beauty, intelligence, and what Alfred Hitchcock referred to as her

Grace Kelly with Gary Cooper in High Noon
Grace Kelly with Gary Cooper in High Noon
"sexual elegance." She is still capturing it, years after her death, as one of the most-biographied stars Hollywood has ever produced.

After a small role as the wife of a man (Richard Basehart) who threatens to commit suicide by jumping from a skyscraper in Henry Hathaway's taut Fourteen Hours , Kelly leaped into the big leagues opposite Gary Cooper in High Noon . Here, and thereafter, her roles often centered on the emergence of concealed passion after a thawing of her icy or principled front. Before she became a princess in real life, she exuded in her films an aloof and aristocratic if not royal manner that, within the films' cliché-ridden plots, broke down into a touching and warm sexual feeling for a man socially beneath her, and a search for self-respect. This change, as manifested in Mogambo , Rear Window , The Country Girl , To Catch a Thief , The Swan , and High Society , seemed a response to the public being fascinated with elegant upper-class manners, dress, and speech, while desiring a classless equality underneath it all.

Her screen metamorphosis often resulted in a moving love scene containing a surprisingly torrid kiss that, in its dramatic and sensual flavor, gave vent to the undercurrents her performance to that point had implied. A supreme example is Mogambo , her third film; in it she plays a naive, recently married English woman who falls for the charms of worldly safari guide Clark Gable. Her long-repressed surrender to his embrace and kiss generates a tremendous, almost explosive sexual heat. In The Swan , her last film before becoming a princess—in which she ironically prepared for her soon-to-be-real-life-role by playing a princess—the Variety reviewer found a similar scene "that must be figured as belonging to the ranks of the best love scenes ever filmed." In To Catch a Thief , when she kisses Gary Grant, the screen literally erupts with fireworks in the Riviera sky. This thawing kiss releases her passion which, though resulting sometimes in just a dalliance, reveals the superficiality of her airs and the honesty of her feelings.

Hitchcock cast Kelly in his films as his quintessential heroine—a beautiful blond victim subject to brutal violence, or the threat of violence, or as the partner of a man in dangerous pursuit of something. It was the perfect pairing of director and actress. Delmore Schwartz, reviewing To Catch a Thief , suggested that Hitchcock and Kelly in their three films together succeeded in supplying the public's need for "vividness and vitality of personality, genuineness of experience, a renewal of the excitement of curiosity and wonder." In Rear Window , perhaps Kelly's best film with Hitchcock, a basic Hitchcockian situation—a callous male protagonist discovers love for his girlfriend when she is in danger and he is nearly helpless to protect her—is made all the more compelling by the presence of Kelly's wit, charm, and attractiveness.

Kelly's most accomplished performance was in the film version of Clifford Odets's The Country Girl as she became more than a director's tool or a vessel for audience excitement. In this role she was cast against type as the cynical, old-before-her-time, combative wife of a washed-up actor (Bing Crosby) who gets a last chance when a director (William Holden) puts faith in him. Her appearance contrasts with the clotheshorse elegance of her previous role in Rear Window . Here she dresses dowdily, in cardigan, glasses, and skirt, slouches, looks worn and haggard, and has a glazed look to her eyes. But she is a fighter, first for her husband, later for herself. The childlike happiness and gaiety present in previous roles only appears in a flashback which serves to point out all the more forcefully her frustrated condition. The range she covered in this role showed her potential for giving complex performances in roles not of her normal type. Unfortunately her studio, MGM, subsequently gave her no comparable role; they suspended her for turning down two of their choices. But Kelly got the last laugh and went on to become the most famous princess in the world until Di came on the scene.

—Alan Gevinson, updated by John McCarty

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