Grace Patricia Kelly (November 12, 1929 – September 14, 1982) was an American actress and Princess consort of Monaco. In April 1956 Kelly married Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, and became styled as Her Serene Highness The Princess of Monaco, and was commonly referred to as Princess Grace.After embarking on an acting career in 1950, at the age of 20, Grace Kelly appeared in New York City theatrical productions as well as in more than forty episodes of live drama productions broadcast during the early 1950s Golden Age of Television. In October 1953, with the release of Mogambo, she became a movie star, a status confirmed in 1954 with a Golden Globe Award and Academy Award nomination as well as leading roles in five films, including The Country Girl, in which she gave a deglamorized, Academy Award-winning performance. She retired from acting at 26 to enter upon her duties in Monaco. She and Prince Rainier had three children: Caroline, Albert, and Stéphanie. She also retained her American roots, maintaining dual US and Monégasque citizenships. She died on September 14, 1982, two months before her 53rd birthday, when she lost control of her automobile and crashed after suffering a stroke. Her daughter Princess Stéphanie, who was in the car with her, survived the accident. In June 1999, the American Film Institute ranked her #13 in their list of top female stars of American cinema.
A native of Philadelphia, Grace Kelly was born to John Brendan "Jack" Kelly (October 4, 1889–June 20, 1960), and his wife, Margaret Katherine Majer (December 13, 1898–January 6, 1990). The newborn was named in memory of her father's sister, who had died at a young age. She was raised Catholic by her Irish Democrat parents. The family lived in a house at 3901 Henry Avenue in the East Falls neighborhood of the city. Before her marriage, Margaret Majer studied physical education at Temple University and later became the first woman to head the Physical Education Department at the University of Pennsylvania. Jack Kelly was a local hero as a triple Olympic-gold-medal-winning sculler, and subsequently became a self-made millionaire, with his brick business rising to prominence as the largest such enterprise on the East Coast. Registering as a Democrat, he obtained the party's nomination for mayor in the 1935 election and lost by the closest margin for any Democrat in the city's electoral history. In later years, he served on the Fairmount Park Commission and, during World War II, was appointed by President Roosevelt as National Director of Physical Fitness.
When Grace was born, the Kellys already had two children, Margaret Katherine, known as Peggy (June 13, 1925–November 23, 1991) and John Brendan, Jr., known as Kell (May 24, 1927–May 2, 1985). Another daughter, Elizabeth Anne, known as Lizanne (June 25, 1933–November 24, 2009), was born three and a half years after Grace.
At Margaret's baptism in 1925, Jack Kelly's mother, Mary Costello Kelly, expressed her disappointment that the baby was not named Grace in memory of her last daughter who died young. Upon his mother's death the following year, Jack Kelly resolved that his next daughter would bear the name and, three years later, with the arrival of Grace Patricia in November 1929, his late mother's wish was honored.
Following in his father's athletic footsteps, John Jr. won in 1947 the James E. Sullivan Award as the country's top amateur athlete. Also, similar to his father's gold medals in rowing at the 1920 and 1924 Summer Olympics, he competed in the sport at the 1948, 1952 and the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne where, on November 27, seven months after his sister's Monaco wedding, he won a bronze medal, which he gave to her as a gift of the occasion. He also served as a city councilman and Philadelphia's Kelly Drive is named for him.
Two of Grace Kelly's uncles were prominent in the arts; her father's eldest brother, Walter C. Kelly (1873–1939), was a vaudeville star whose nationally known act, The Virginia Judge, was filmed as a 1930 MGM short and a 1935 Paramount feature, and another older brother, George Kelly (1887–1974), estranged from the family due to his homosexuality, became renowned in the 1920s as a dramatist, screenwriter and director with a hit comedy-drama, The Show Off, in 1924–25, and was awarded the 1926 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his next play, Craig's Wife.
After the wedding, Prince Rainier banned the screening of Kelly's films. Hitchcock offered Kelly the lead in his film Marnie in 1962. She was eager, but public outcry in Monaco against her involvement in a film that portrayed her as a kleptomaniac made her reconsider and ultimately reject the project. Director Herbert Ross attempted to lure Princess Grace for his 1977 film The Turning Point, but Prince Rainier quashed the idea. Later that year, Kelly returned to the arts in a series of poetry readings on stage and the narration of the documentary The Children of Theater Street. She also narrated ABC's made-for-television film The Poppy Is Also a Flower (1966).
As princess, Kelly was active in improving the arts institutions of Monaco, and eventually the Princess Grace Foundation was formed to support local artisans. She was one of the first celebrities to support and speak on behalf of La Leche League, an organization that advocates breastfeeding; she planned a yearly Christmas party for local orphans, and dedicated a Garden Club that reflected her love of flowers.
Kelly was also a member of the International Best Dressed List since 1960.
In 1981, the Prince and Princess celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.