Table of Content
Chapter 1: The public image of Grace Kelly
1.1. The film Ice Queen
Chapter 2: Her Serene Highness Princess Grace
2.1. “The Wedding of the Century”
2.2. The Real Grace Kelly
2.2.1. Grace Kelly – a Wife, a Mother-to-be
Chapter 3: Grace – The Heart of Monaco
3.1. Monegasque Red Cross under Grace’s Auspices
3.1.1. Annual Red Cross Ball
3.1.2. “She brought us heart”
3.3. The Princess Grace Foundation
List of Illustrations
Her Serene Highness, Princess Grace of Monaco, the legendary Hollywood screen siren Grace Kelly, is an American icon whose beauty is unrivalled, and whose oft-imitated aristocratic style and cool elegance have never been eclipsed (Leigh 2007: i).
In the history of the American cinema, few stars are remembered so vividly although they appeared for so briefly as Grace Kelly. Robert Lacey in his bestseller book Grace makes a remark that although famous “American princess” had spent years cultivating her image of classic, white-gloved perfection, in real life, Grace was surprisingly often reckless young woman who had affairs with nearly all of her leading men” (Lacey 1996:i). A working actor for just five short years in the 1950s, known best for her roles as sparkling although moody partner and obviously for her work in multiple Alfred Hitchcock thrillers, Kelly outwardly came to embody her name with a seemingly effortless elegance and an almost unearthly aestheticism.
James Spada, the author of Grace – The Secret Lives of a Princess states that: “the public image of Grace Kelly – first as a movie star, then as a Princess – was a triumph of myth over reality” (Spada 1987: i). And consequently, one can assume, after a thorough research of her biographies that even though the public was presented with an image of a chaste young actress, often referred to as the “Ice Queen” (Ibid.), the truth about her real life is far more interesting and has much more hidden beneath.
In order to see the true Grace Kelly it is indeed necessary to read the opinions of her closest friends and family as quoted in the biographical sources. Without that, the only image one can obtain is that of thousands of Internet pages dully repeating the same statements about her being pretty and talented, reporting her fairy-tale life and quoting stereotypical phrases.
Despite the fact that she was perhaps one the most instantly recognizable movie stars of her times, in her private life she was constantly seeking for love. Some would say that she was rather hunting for men’s hearts in order to prove her femininity beyond doubt. Although any of these facts may sound pathetic and miserable, reading Grace’s biographies, it is difficult not to realize how in fact she was lonely in her entire life. Perhaps her problem was her personality, maybe she was acting too well to feel herself like really in love.
Even if insecure and self-centered she was, Grace Kelly achieved success in the field that she felt was best for her – in acting. Her dream was to become an actress and she did everything she could in order to improve her acting technique and to get her real role. It took time, however, before Grace obtained the recognition necessary for success in Hollywood.
Alfred Hitchcock – the Master of Suspense cast her as leading star in three of his films; he liked to say that: “An actress like her gives the director certain advantages. He can afford to be more colorful with a love scene when it is played by a lady“ (Lacey 1996: 129). Moreover, he was probably the first and only director who utilized everything that Grace had to offer as a lady she was not just another pretty face.
Grace’s engagement to Prince Rainier of Monaco created a revolution in media and her wedding was dubbed “The Wedding of the Century”.
The seeming fairy-tale life came to an end in an automobile accident in the mountains of Monaco. Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco, died at ten-fifteen on the evening of Tuesday September 14, 1982. She was fifty-two years old (Lacey 1996: 372).
So much is focused on Grace Kelly the actress and princess, and so little on Grace the family member, friend and mother.
The following paper was written with the purpose of answering the question “Who was the true Grace Kelly?“ and showing the reader all the possible aspects of the fascinating facts behind the picture which either Grace was forced into or maybe she fit herself comfortably in. The main goal of the whole work is to demonstrate the way in which one of the most famous actresses became such a big star so fast. Moreover, it shall provide the reader with all the substantial facts connected with the topic of the paper such as her private life, opinions about her as recalled in interviews with her family, friends as well as the people she worked with. Consequently, with help of the biographical sources, the author of the thesis intends to present the story of fascinating, complex woman who abide to give up her blooming Hollywood career to become “La Princesse malgré elle” (Englund 1984: 205) – “Princess despite herself”.
The theoretical approach that was adopted is deliberately eclectic. The two main analytical chapters – chapter three and four provide the reader with quite different orientations to the issue of so-called “fairy-talish” life of Grace Kelly. While chapter two considers the broadly understood reason behind Grace’s marriage to the Prince, it avoids drawing on common conclusions and opinion regarding the fulfillment of young girl’s dreams and the stereotype of “happily ever after”. The consequent chapter three is an attempt to present her own private world which she created in order to make herself at home in a remote kingdom of Monaco – as revealed in interviews and her biographies.
Taken together Grace’s attitude towards her work, her achievements and undoubted success in the field of acting, as well as the drastic change that accompanied her marriage with the actual head of the monarchy the author argues that the picture of Grace Kelly as widely known, that of “Serene Princess Grace” are misleading. Consequently, the approaches involved in the process of writing the thesis allow one to gain a better insight into the nature of the real Grace Kelly.
Chapter 1: The public image of Grace Kelly
1.1. The film Ice Queen
Her roles sometimes played off her model’s beauty and patrician heritage - Rear Window, High Society, although her Academy Award came for going against the grain in The Country Girl (McDonough 2001: 627).
Grace made her stage debut in a small, local playhouse in 1949, called Bucks County Playhouse. Soon, in the fall 1949 however, she had what was for her the depiction of the youthful dreams – she got her first part on Broadway (Englund 1984: 31). Leigh quotes Don Richardson, Grace’s acting teacher:
She had become a career carnivore. She was rapacious about getting famous and being important. She’d already talked to me about some of the men she’d been dating, how they helped her to make social contacts and were teaching her things she needed to know” (Leigh 2007: 43).
The author of True Grace guesses that the role on Broadway, Grace might won only due to nepotism or intimate contacts with influential men, amongst whom they enumerate also Don Richardson (Ibid.). However, later she makes an observation: “her powerful contacts would have been useless had she not been talented and determined to make it in the theatre no matter what the cost” (Ibid.).
Whichever is the truth, Grace had her true stage role – it was August Strindberg’s The Father, however, despite the fact that she received favourable notices, it became clear that she lacked the charisma required for live stage performances. The New York Times’ drama critics stated that Grace Kelly gave “a charming, pliable performance” (Englund 1984: 3, Lacey 1996: 98, Leigh 2007: 43).
The show was closed after sixty-nine performances, forcing Grace to look for a job once again.
The young medium of television proved less demanding than that of the highly sophisticated theatre and would not pay attention to her “something too” (Spada 1987: 44). Kelly became a regular in many live teleplays the networks aired in their early days, appearing on sixty broadcasts between 1950 and 1953. The shoes she took parts in were amongst many: Studio One, Robert Montgomery Presents, Lux Video Theatre and Playhouse 90 (Spada 1987: 45).
According to Spada, television in fact was an important period in Grace’s career while it simply helped her to perfect her craft (Ibid. p. 46). Moreover, due to performances in TV shows she was finally noticed and no longer was an unknown actress of one role on Broadway.
In Englund’s opinion:
Such shows were also a perfect forge for shaping and annealing young actors, though perhaps “cruciable” would be a better word for the fearful heat and pressure of early television (Englund 1984: 33-34).
The further recognition, despite the financial disappointment brought Grace Kelly her Hollywood debut in Fourteen Hours during which she met great star Gary Cooper. Spada quotes Cooper’s opinion about the young actress: : “I thought she looked pretty and different, and that maybe she’d be somebody […] She was certainly a refreshing change from all these sexballs we’d been seeing so much of “ (Spada 1987: 47).
The opportunity to play a really important role appeared when Gregory Ratoff was looking for an actress to play in his new film Taxi. The director found her perfect to the role of Irish immigrant girl, but his bosses decided to hire Constance Smith instead of her (Ibid. p. 48). According to many biographers however, that incident was in fact to become instrumental for her further career.
Despite her initial disappointment, Grace soon discovered that she began receiving contract offers from several major studies, amongst which there was Metro Goldwyn Mayer. It was standard practice in 1950s that the promising young actresses were offered seven-year contracts which included weekly payment of thousand dollars; however the price for this “supervision” was the right of the studio to introduce any physical changes in the girl’s name, physical appearance or even to chose her boyfriend or future husband (Lacey 1996: 108).
Therefore, Grace turned all offers down and decided to return to television and staging career. Wendy Leigh makes a remark that the time Grace spent in prestigious Elitch Gardens Theatre allowed her to “increase her acting range considerably” (Leigh 2007: 52). In addition, Grace found love in the person of the fellow actor – Gene Lyons – rugged, handsome and gentle, ten-years her senior (Ibid.).
In the meantime, her agent and future friend – Jay Kanter was working hard to secure her an audition with Stanley Kramer for his upcoming western, the now-classic High Noon (Englund 1984: 37). Kramer suited well to Grace’s needs, while as she stated: “As an independent, Stanley didn’t require any studio contract” (Lacey 1996: 110) and she “didn’t want to sign the long terms” (Ibid.) as quoted by Lacey Jay Kramer explained. As a relative unknown in Hollywood, Kelly’s price was right for Kramer’s limited budget, and after her stoic presence in the interview, director Fred Zinnemann decided she would be perfect for the role of repressed, pacifist wife of Gary Cooper’s world-weary marshal – “Sort of boring, and thin-blooded” (Ibid. p. 111).
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Fig. 1. Grace Kelly with Gary Cooper in High Noon
(Lacey 1996: 244)
She would castigate herself for her own performance for years after, but, according to biographer Wendy Leigh, the experience was highlighted by the first of what would become a pattern for her - a quiet affair with her leading man, the 50-year-old Cooper. Leigh also alleged Kelly engaged in a concurrent romance with Zinnemann Leigh 2007: 55).
Lacey, on the other hand, claims that there were no signs of any romantic involvement between the two and that Gary Cooper was in fact experiencing at that time so many problems – both with his worsening health and in accordance with his divorce, that if he was attracted to young Grace Kelly, the feelings would be more like father-advisor, someone who could take care of her and help her master her acting skills (Lacey 1996: 111). Similarly, Zinnemann wished to help her with acting due to the fact that he realized that: “Grace, so far I could see, was not self-confident at all. Certainly not at this stage. She was her own problem, so to speak. Instead of looking out at the world, she was looking inward, into herself, a great deal” (Ibid. p. 112).
The movie earned two Oscars – Gary Cooper won one of them for obviously splendid role of tired, lonely marshal. In Grace Kelly’s own opinion, she was a failure, the role assigned to her was supposed to be a background to Cooper; and so it was. But for her: “I looked into my own face and saw nothing. I knew what I was thinking, but it didn’t show” (Ibid. p. 113).
The American Academy had given Grace a foundation of dramatic technique and he very particular accent. Television had improved the fluidity of her dialogue. But she knew that she still needed more. Somehow she had to locate and unlock the extra resource that would put real heart and soul into her acting. […] The question was how to release those emotions dramatically, and Grace turned for help to Sanford Meisner, one of the great gurus of American drama who was then teaching at the Neighborhood Playhouse on Fifty-fourth Street in New York. The moment she got back from Hollywood, Grace enrolled in his professional class (Ibid.).
After High Noon was released on July 1952, Grace Kelly was no longer an unknown actress, although it contributed little to launching her as a movie star or a Hollywood phenomenon (Leigh 2007: 57, Englund 1984: 48).
Lacey comments on Grace: “One of the key notes of her Hollywood career was her ability to be intelligently choosy. She proved to have an instinct for landing work in the very best company – the best scripts, the finest direction, and the most glamorous co-stars” (Lacey 1996: 109). And she made such an important decision soon after a few months in New York when she received an offer to costar in a remake of 1932 romantic hit Red Dust. That decision would change her all life (Spada 1987: 61). The legendary director John Ford pictured her as an ideal actress to play Linda Nordley, a proper young English woman, the wife of an engineer, who becomes involved in a romantic triangle with a white hunter and a sexy show girl. Her partners were to be Clark Gable and Ava Gardner and the film title – Mogambo was to enter the canon of cinema, although “as a remake it failed to attain the freshness, vigor, and pace of its predecessor” (Englund 1984: 52).
The director John Ford did not have good opinion about the High Noon, however, he saw Grace’s screen test to Taxi and was far more intrigued by her performance there. According to Spada, he told: “Darryl miscast her in the test – but this dame is breeding, quality, class. I want to make a test of her – in color. I’ll bet she’ll knock us on our asses” (Ibid.).
Signing onto the project, Kelly became an MGM contract player, earning thirty thousand dollars a year, with accessions to her demands that she could still live in New York, do no more than three films a year, and continue her stage work. Metro Goldwyn Meyer and John Ford badly wanted her for Mogambo so the studio agreed to her demands with no further ado (Leigh 2007: 60). Lucille Ryman Carroll, wife of actor John Carroll and the head of talent at MGM at that time reported that:
We certainly didn’t object to her wanting to take time off for stage work, because our belief was that doing a Broadway show could only enhance the popularity and reputation of our actors, making them more valuable commodities for us (Spada 1987: 62).
Therefore, despite the fact that the money offered to Grace were not really satisfying, while she could make more a week modeling full-time, she signed the contract, claiming years later: “Mogambo had three things that interested me. John Ford, Clark Gable and a trip to Africa with expenses to paid. If Mogambo had been made in Arizona, I wouldn’t have done it” (Leigh 2007: 60).
Not all of the actors had pleasant times with Ford. He could be a tyrant and vicious with performers (Leigh 2007: 61). But for Grace there was only one aspect she would put her whole heart in – it was her relationship with Clark Gable.
Shooting in Kenya, Kelly learned Swahili, and quickly fell into a relationship with Clark Gable - 28 years her senior and four times married and divorced. At the end of the shoot, the actors went to London, where they discovered the media already full of gossips about their short-lived romance. Kelly had become tabloid-star, on top of which Mogambo would earn her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress (Lacey 1996: 126). It also earned her a call from Alfred Hitchcock.
Once again, the screen test to Taxi made such an impression on the important person. This time, it was Alfred Hitchcock and according to Spada, Grace’s dichotomy fascinated him (Spada 1987: 70). As for Grace, within her entire film career, audiences will always remember her through her works with the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. With only three films, Grace Kelly epitomized Hitchcock’s ultimate cool blonde. The blonde in which there were perfection and glamour visually, but who carried the flaws of mischief, obsession, neurosis, and stark infidelity. Other actresses have personified Hitchcock’s cool blonde persona like Tippi Hedren, Kim Novak, and Vivien Leigh, but none have matched the iconography like Grace Kelly.
As for the Master, he later explained:
An actress like her gives the director certain advantages. He can afford to be more colorful with a love scene when it is played by a lady than when it is played by a hussy. Using one actress, the scene can be vulgar. But if you put a lady in the same circumstances she can be exciting and glamorous” (Lacey 1994: 129, Spada 1987: 70).
Therefore when Jay Kanter called Grace to say that Alfred Hitchcock wanted her for the female lead in his new picture, she was pleased and accepted an offer instantly. The biographers stress that Hitchcock hired the young actress for what he believed he could do with her in the process of filming (Englund 1984: 60). He was also the first director to utilize everything that Grace had to offer as a lady not just another purely pretty face (Spada 1987: 71). For Grace Kelly, the most important about playing was, as she commented once “emotional involvement of the directors” (Englund 1984: 60), although, in retrospect, the actual nature of this “involvement” turned into nearly obsessive concern that the master of suspense displayed for every single detail of his new leading’s lady work. Grace later said: “As an actor, I learned a tremendous amount about motion picture making. He gave me great deal of confidence in myself” (Spada 1987: 72).
Alfred Hitchcock was the first director who made everything to make Grace happy and satisfied on the movie plan; moreover her salary was higher than it was ever before. It is also certain that he achieved something that any other director so far was not able to achieve – he made Grace’s eroticism emerge (Englund 1984: 61).
Dial M for Murder was mystery-melodrama which enjoyed great success in London and on Broadway in the season of 1952. As such, it enjoyed Grace a lot, however, what attracted her mostly in the script, was the fact that the movie was in fact the filmed play, following the play faithfully. Alfred Hitchcock manipulated and enthralled his audience like the master that he was. Each scene had a sense of direction, great pacing, and was staged realistically. Stunning full colour photography and a haunting, atmospheric score from Dimitri Tiomkin completed this great picture. However, Englund claims that: “The movie is no sense Grace’s” (Ibid. p. 60).
As filming had drawn to an end on Dial M for Murder, Hitchcock began discussing with Grace his plans for his next movie, in which he obviously wanted her to be a star again. She loved working with Hitchcock and was eager to repeat the experience; Grace recalled: “All through the making of Dial M for Murder, he sat and talked to me about Rear Window all the time, even before we had discussed my being in it” (Leigh 2007: 76).
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Fig. 2. Rear Window movie still
Now an undeniable star, she found herself facing a choice between Elia Kazan’s drama On the Waterfront opposite Marlon Brando or Hitchcock’s Rear Window. She chose to advance the growing paternal relationship with Hitchcock, though, famously, Eva Marie Saint would win the Academy Award for the role Kelly passed on.
With Rear Window, Alfred Hitchcock took an idea right from real life when he decided to direct his newest suspense film. The idea was to have an entire film unravel through the back window of a man’s apartment.
In addition, what would become later Hitchcock’s vision for Grace and what was hardly realized in Dial M for Murder, was ready to be utilized in full – these were her “subtlety, coolness, elegant facade covering wells of passion, sweetness, and humor” (Englund 1984: 60).
Hitch really threw himself into Rear Window,” said Haynes. “He was determined to ferret out Grace’s romantic potential.” The ferreting proved even more painstaking than Dial M for Murder, if only because-to accept the compelling case of biographer Donald Spoto – Hitchcock was by now deeply, if unconsciously, in love with Grace (Ibid. p. 64).
According to Lacey, the great challenge facing Hitchcock in his new movie was to “iron the stiffness out of Grace’s acting performance” (Lacey 1994: 142). And as far as Grace’s friend’s opinion, he managed to the wonders. Don Richardson, her ex-boyfriend, on being presented with the Rear Window, expressed that it was an image that gave him a great deal of pleasure. “She was luminous on the screen” (Ibid. p. 143). Moreover, “Grace Kelly, as showcased by Alfred Hitchcock was a captivating and wondrous creation – light, breezy, clean, and wholesome” (Ibid. p. 143-144).
When Rear Window opened at Manhattan’s Rivoli Theatre on August 1954, Grace received rave reviews, she became a sensation and by the end of the year she was the biggest star in Hollywood (Spada 1987: 81).
Kelly engaged in 1953 in a relatively different project, playing William Holden’s wife in The Bridges of Toko-Ri. The role was not intriguing for herself but she accepted it primarily because of the prestigious nature of this venture and obviously – for Perlberg and Seaton’s reputation. Not surprisingly, during the process of filming, she fell in love with the married Holden. The movie, however, would prove a stepping stone to Grace’s Academy Award, as its producer-director team of William Perlberg and George Seaton were already then planning their next project, a film version of Clifford Odets’ Broadway hit The Country Girl. According to Spada, “Grace’s involvement in The Bridges of Toko-Ri was of little importance to her career” (Ibid. p. 86). Moreover, the film was a moderate success and did not bring her the attention in the reviews. The only interesting aspect regarding this movie, was the fact that it was the first Grace Kelly’s movie in which she featured wearing a bathing suit, and the only one that ever showed her in bed with a man.
The couple were chastely clothed in pajamas, and, thanks to the rules of Hollywood’s still powerful Motion Picture Production Code, they did not touch. The sequence was all talk from opposite sides of the bed. But by the standards of early 1950s movies the scene was definitely intimate, and even a little shocking (Lacey 1994: 151).
“Hollywood’s more cynical insiders might not have appreciated Grace, but the public certainly did” (Spada 1987: 104). By the end of 1954, a year which released so far Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, The Bridges of Toko-Ri, and had still on stock The Country Girl which won Grace the Oscar, Grace was the number one female attraction in America. In Spada’s opinion, “she received more fan mail than any other MGM player, and she was surrounded by more excitement and publicity than anyone had been since Marilyn Monroe’s rise to prominence in 1952 and 1953” (Ibid.).
The biographer consequently postulates the question: “What was it that made Grace Kelly such a big star so fast?” (Ibid.). Her obvious beauty might have secured her success and increase her film career but that could not allow her to achieve such a volcanic rise. Englund claims that to MGM “Grace was now pure gold” (Englund 1984: 74). Her charisma might have come from what fascinated Hitchcock – her dichotomy, her compelling combination of lady and cool sexuality – both factors making her a perfect image of female character of 1950s.
It is worth to remember that The Country Girl and To Catch a Thief were still not released but even though Grace enjoyed her position of the star in a brand new world of sexual frankness (Spada 1987: 104). William Holden, her former lover and friend expressed his perception of Grace in the most accurate way. In his opinion:
Popularity goes in eras and depends on the mood of the world. In the late twenties and early thirties the grand movie stars like Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford provided the elegance and glamour that people wanted, then came war, chaos, economic turmoil, religious insecurity – all those things. All this created a mood in which the emphasis was on bodily pleasures and excitements. For a long time our actresses were popular in proportion to the size of their breastworks. Phoniness didn’t matter. But now I think the world wants something else. I hate to impose this on Grace... but I think she had become a symbol of dignity and all the good things that are in us all. [...] Women like Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn help us to believe in the innate dignity of man – and today that is what we desperately need to believe in (Spada 1987: 104-105).
In addition, one can find Don Richardson’s remarkable statement that: “Grace was right for her time” (Ibid.). Richardson stressed that for all those boys coming back from the horror of war and the constant presence of black-haired Japanese or Italian girls, the image of blonde-hair all-American girl might have been all that they were longing for.
However, the aspect of timing could not be the only in Grace’s case; while she was able to perform nearly any personality – from submissive Quaker wife of Marshall in High Noon to deceitful heroine of Hitchcock in Dial M for Murder, she might reach out for more. And consequently, the audience loved her for this versality.
When in January of 1954, Jennifer Jones - Mrs. David O. Selznick got pregnant, her husband telephoned William Perlberg - the producer that the picture they were planning to make with her, could be completed before Jennifer’s condition began to show. According to Spada, to them, a potential disaster turned into an unexpected opportunity. Perlberg remembered: “George and I don’t tear our hair out at the news. We just look at each other. We’re both thinking the same thing at the same time: Grace Kelly” (Spada 1987: 87). The trouble was that Perlberg and Seaton were working for Paramount, and in her fifteen months under contract to MGM, Grace had so far made only one MGM movie. Therefore, when the producers asked MGM for a second “loan-out” of Grace, they were turned down: “We have big plans for Grace”, said Dore Schary, MGM’s head of production (Lacey 1996: 156).
While Perlberg and Seaton knew that Grace was not satisfied with the projects MGM had offered her, and they were aware of the fact that she was one of the most independent actresses the MGM studio had, they decided to try an approach from the opposite side. Instead of formal way they decided for the discreet approach. Spada and Lacey quote: “Somehow we let Grace know we were negotiating for her. And somehow she got a copy of The Country Girl script. No court on earth can make us tell how she got it. Just say that I suspect Seaton and he suspects me” (Spada 1987: 87, Lacey 1996: 156).
Grace later said: “I just had to be in The Country Girl. There was a real acting part in it for me” (Spada 1987: 87). In the end, it was nothing that money could not fix. Paramount agreed that they would pay MGM $50,000 which was double price for loan-out of Grace they previously paid. Grace on the other hand agreed that she would go to work on one of MGM’s “big plans” the moment that The Country Girl was finished.
And she went to work, playing a sullen, unattractive woman stuck in the despair of her marriage to a depressed and broke ballad singer. Handsome Holden – Grace’s ex-lover, who was again her co-star, played a director of a Broadway play, who falls for Kelly’s character after casting her husband, in turn played by 50-year-old Bing Crosby. In real life the three were actually involved in a similarly complicated love-triangle.