Friday, November 12, 2010

In Memoriam: Princess Grace

Born on this day in 1929 the daughter of Jack Kelly - himself a self-made millionaire and charismatic Olympic sculler - Grace Kelly wanted for nothing as, during her childhood, the world suffered from the effects of the Great Depression. Her family were prominent in Philadelphia as supporters of the arts, and her beloved gay uncle George Kelly (a pariah to the rest of the family) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketKelly attended Ravenhill Academy, where she began her career by modeling at social events; when she graduated from Stevens School in 1947 her yearbook listed her favourite singer as Jo Stafford, with whom she shares a birthday.

Failing to get into Bennington College, Kelly enrolled instead at New York City's American Academy of Dramatic Arts; there she was spotted by producer Delbert Mann, who cast her as the title character in a TV version of Sinclair Lewis' 1940 novel Bethel Merriday. Kelly's big screen debut came in 1951's Fourteen Hours.

It would prove a short but fruitful career; the majority of Grace Kelly's movies are still popular today: High Noon (1952), Mogambo (1953), Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, The Country Girl (all 1954), To Catch a Thief (1955), and High Society (1956). She won an Academy Award for her role in The Country Girl; her final screen appearance was in High Society, a musical remake of her uncle's play The Philadelphia Story.

Along the way she'd won more than an Oscar and the adoration of millions; she'd also won the heart of a Prince, even as she was playing a princess in the film The Swan during their courtship. Her marriage to Rainier III of Monaco in April 1956 ended her film career but brought her into a new phase in her life, a phase which tragically closed when she had a stroke while driving in September 1982, and crashed her Land Rover P6 off the Corniche moyenne and then 100 metres down a steep embankment. Her younger daughter, Princess Stéphanie, was badly injured in the crash, but survived.

The good works Her Serene Highness began in life continue in death through the Princess Grace Foundation, just as surely as her style, gentle manner, and cool beauty survive thanks to the magic of DVD.
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