Grace Patricia Kelly was born on 12 November 1929 as the daughter of John B. Kelly and Margaret Katherine Majer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Despite her parents’ disapproval, Grace began a career in acting. She attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and worked as a model to support her studies. She made her film debut in a small role in the 1951 film Fourteen Hours.
Grace was a part of the U.S delegation at the Cannes Film Festival in April 1955, when she was invited to participate in a photo session at the Prince’s Palace in Monaco with Prince Rainier III. At the time of her meeting with him, she was dating a French actor. Grace returned to the US to work on a film, while she began a private correspondence with Prince Rainier. He visited the US in December 1955, officially designated as a tour, but he was also meeting with Grace’s family. He proposed to her after three days and she accepted.
They made their first public appearance together on 6 January 1956 at a gala at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Grace was still under contract and it was agreed that she would make one more film and that MGM would have exclusive film rights to their wedding. Their civil marriage took place on 18 April 1956 with a religious ceremony taking place the next day.
Grace returned from her honeymoon in July 1956 and she was already pregnant with their first child. Caroline Louise Marguerite was born on 23 January 1957. Just over a year later, on 14 March 1958, she gave birth to their second child, Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre.
It wasn’t long before Grace entertained the idea of returning to her career, at least for one film. Rainier was not amused, as he was in the middle of a crisis with France. A third child was born to them on 1 February 1965, named Stéphanie Marie Elisabeth. Their children were raised bilingual in French and English. Grace became fluent in French and Italian.
On 13 September 1982, Grace intended to drive Stéphanie to a doctor’s office for x-rays. Grace wore her sunglasses for the glaring sun. Stéphanie later told doctors that after about five minutes down the steep incline her mother complained of a sudden pain in her head and slumped over the wheel, just before a particularly sharp turn. Stéphanie tried to apply the handbrake but the car steered towards the edge of a cliff. The car crashed through the barrier and plunged over the side. The car came to a rest in the field of a farm at the bottom of the mountain.
Grace was alive, but a scan showed that her brain was irreparably damaged. Her life-support was switched off on 14 September 1982 at 10.10pm. Stéphanie survived the crash. 1
- Anne Edwards (1992) The Grimaldis of Monaco ↩