Grace Kelly: Hollywood’s beloved Princess

The award-winning actress gave up her successful career to marry Prince Rainier III of Monaco. We look back at her life, marriage and children.

Grace Kelly

by Bryony Firth-bernard |

Many actresses have played the role of a princess in their lifetime, but for Grace Kelly this became a reality. The Hollywood movie star, admired for her talent and beauty, starred in 11 movies before falling in love with Rainer III, Prince of Monaco, and left her film career behind to become a princess. Her life sounds like something out of a movie, but this fairytale succumbed to a sad ending as Grace tragically died at the age of 52 in a car accident.

Who is Grace Kelly?

Grace Patricia Kelly was born on 12 November 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to John and Margaret Kelly. Her father was a wealthy contractor and gold-medal winning oarsman, while Grace’s Uncle, George Kelly, was a playwright. From a young age Grace became interested in acting and her family’s connections and wealth arguably placed her in a good position to pursue her ambition.

At the age of 21 she studied at the private acting school, the American Academy of Dramatic Art in New York, working as model and stage actress before making the big move to Hollywood.

Grace Kelly movies

Grace Kelly with her Oscar
©Getty

Grace’s film debut was Fourteen Hours (1951), where she played a minor supporting role. Two years later she appeared in John Ford’s romantic-adventure film, Mogambo, in which Grace was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Afterwards her career began to flourish as she captured the interest of movie mogul Alfred Hitchcock. Grace gave stunning performances in Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief and won an Oscar for Best Actress in The Country Girl in 1954 for the leading role.

Here’s a breakdown of the 11 movies Grace starred in…

Fourteen Hours (1951)

Grace beat Anne Bancroft for her minor role in this drama about a New York police officer trying to stop a man jumping from the 15th floor of a hotel in a bid to end his life.

High Noon (1951)

Voted the top western movie of all time, Grace played Gary Cooper’s quaker wife, Amy Kane. It’s also believed the director of the film had fallen in love with her.

Mogambo (1953)

The film that secured Grace her first award nomination, all about a hunter who gets caught in a sticky love triangle while on a safari in Kenya.

Grace Kelly Dial M For Murder
Grace Kelly in Dial M For Murder ©Getty

Green Fire (1954)

Kelly played a beautiful coffee plantation owner who captures the heart of an explorer who discovers an emerald mine in Columbia.

Dial M For Murder (1954)

This was the first Alfred Hitchcock film that Grace starred in. It was an adaptation of the Broadway hit, where Grace plays the wife of a successful tennis player who frames her for murder.

Rear Window (1954)

Another Hitchcock-Kelly collaboration. Grace starred alongside ​​James Stewart (It’s A Wonderful Life) as his girlfriend, Lisa Fremont.

The Country Girl (1954)

Grace scooped up an Oscar for her role as a the resilient wife to a former star who’s become an alcoholic.

The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1955)

In this novel adaption of the same name, Grace plays wife to a lawyer who’s recalled to fly fighter jets by the navy in the Korean War.

To Catch a Thief (1956)

Without a doubt Alfred Hitchcock’s most glamorous movie with Grace. Every scene is beautiful, thanks to the help of Edith Head’s Oscar nominated costumes and again, Grace plays a love interest.

Grace Kelly movies: to catch a thief
Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief ©Getty

The Swan (1956)

Grace portrayed Princess Alexandra in the third remake of Frenec Molnar’s play. She ends up falling in love with her tutor but knows she must give him up.

High Society (1956)

This fun, musical comedy was the last film Grace made before becoming Princess of Monaco. She stars as a spoilt socialite alongside the likes of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.

Grace Kelly marriage

Grace Kelly Marrying Prince Rainier of Monaco
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Soon after High Society, Grace left the world of acting behind to marry Prince Rainier III of Monaco on 18 April 1956 and became Princess Grace of Monaco. The Prince had proposed with an eternity band designed by Cartier, which was set with rubies and diamonds.

Grace’s wedding dress was designed by the Academy Award Winning costume designer, Helen Rose, who had dressed her in both The Swan and High Society. Her dress featured a high neckline, a fitted bodice and a silk taffeta skirt, which had thousands of pearls sewn on. Instead of a wedding day tiara, Grace opted for an embellished Juliet Cap which held her veil in place. Instead of a big bouquet, Grace carried a Bible and a small bunch of lilies of the valley.

Grace Kelly wedding dress
©Getty

Thirty million viewers tuned in to watch what was named ‘the wedding of the century’ and is still considered one of the most beautiful weddings to this day. Grace and Prince Rainier went on to have three children, Princess Caroline, Prince Albert, and Princess Stéphanie. On 6 April 2005, Prince Rainier passed away from heart, lung and kidney failure.

How did Grace Kelly die?

It was a tragic car accident that sadly took Grace Kelly’s life, in which her daughter Princess Stéphanie, who was 17 at the time, was also in. The pair of them were rushed to hospital. Stéphanie suffered a light concussion and hairline fracture, but Grace’s injuries were a lot more serious, including damage to her brain, thorax and a fractured femur. The following day her life support was turned off. Grace Kelly died at the age of 52.

In 2020 Stéphanie spoke out about her Mother’s death and the rumors that surrounded it, including one that Stéphanie was in fact the one driving the car.

"I was not driving, that's clear,” she told Paris Match magazine. “In fact, I was thrown around inside the car like my mother, who was catapulted onto the back seat... The passenger door was completely smashed in; I got out on the only accessible side, the driver's."

Grace Kelly children

Princess Caroline

Princess Caroline of Hanover
©Getty

Born on 23 January 1957, Princess Caroline is the eldest child of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier. She is also Princess of Hanover by her marriage to Prince Ernst August and was married twice previous. Caroline and Ernst separated in 2009 and it is rumoured he’s now found love with someone 20 years his junior.

Prince Albert

Prince Albert of Monaco
©Getty

Prince Albert was born on 14 March 1958 and is the only son of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainer. Shortly after his mother’s death, Albert became President of the Monaco Red Cross and has been involved in lots of charity work, even setting up the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation in 2006 focusing on environmental protection.

Princess Stéphanie

Princess Stephanie of Monaco
©Getty

The youngest daughter of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier, Princess Stéphanie was born on 1 February 1965. Life wasn’t easy for the Princess who was in the same car crash that killed her mother. "Not only did I go through the horrible trauma of losing my mother at a very young age, but I was beside her at the moment of the accident," she said in 2002. "Nobody can imagine how much I've suffered, and still suffer."

Did you know...

Mika's song 'Grace Kelly' is referring to the real Grace Kelly herself. The singer decided to write the song after record label executives encouraged him to change his sound. He wrote the song to express his individuality and that he can be anyone he likes, in this case the beautiful Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco.

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