Grace Kelly, American Movie Icon Died 25 Years Ago Today
One of Alfred Hitchcock's favorite muses and princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly died twenty-five years ago today. Is it really that long ago? The sophisticated and lovely lady who personified grace and elegance on the ultra wide screens of the 1950s remains prevalent in the mind of classic film fans because her films are still very popular. Although she was a featured star in just twelve films, those films had bang! After all, three of her films were made by the master of suspense himself, one was directed by John Ford, and another by Charles Vidor. That's one hell of a pedigree for an actress who's feature film career spanned a mere five years. Who's to tell how long Kelly may have reigned on the screen had it not been for her marriage to the Prince of Monaco.
But marry she did. And at the very height of her popularity. It was an international event that had the whole world watching. It was as big a sensation as when Prince Charles married Lady Di, or when their son, Prince William married Kate Middleton. Hollywood's golden princess left the glamorous life for a real live prince and an even more glamorous life among the most prestigious people of the world! Funny enough, it was while Kelly was shooting a To Catch a Thief in Monaco when she met Princess Rainer. So, if it weren't for her star status that afforded her the opportunity to star opposite Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief, the two would not likely have met. And although she owed this great fortune (her career and the meeting of her future husband) to Hitchcock, he could not persuade her to stay in show business in order to complete the films in which he had intended Kelly to star.
It's too bad Hitchcock didn't have the chance to work with Kelly again. The two had collaborated so well with Dial M For Murder, the film that catapulted Kelly to mega stardom, and again on Rear Window, the film that cemented her in the public's eye as a fashion icon. Of all of the master's so-called "icey blondes", Kelly was the closest to perfection in Hitchcock's eyes. He had intended to work with the young actress on many more films, including Marnie and The Birds, but romance prevailed. Who's to say if Kelly would have agreed, but since she owed so much of her stardom to the English director it is likely that she would have as long as no other conflicts presented themselves.
But who could resist a prince with a monarchy in the most glamorous place in the world? And Kelly had already achieved the kind of success anyone could hope to in the world of cinema. She had worked with all the best leading men (Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Ray Milland, Stewart Granger and Louis Jourdan), appeared in one smash hit after another and received the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Georgie in The Country Girl opposite Bing Crosby and William Holden. So, at twenty-six (that's right, just twenty-six!) Kelly wed Prince Rainer of Monaco and enjoyed a happy ending one usually sees only in the movies.
Sadly, the fairy tale ending would be followed by a tragic epilogue twenty-six years later at the age of fifty-two when Kelly's car crashed on one of those famous winding roads in Monaco. The incident was as much a world event as the accident that took Princess Diana. The world mourned the loss of an iconic woman, both on and off the screen. Fortunately, we still have Kelly's films by which to remember. Because of the magic of the movies, it is unlikely we will ever forget her.