Grace Kelly was born Grace Patricia Kelly on November 12, 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of John Brendan Kelly Sr. (aka Jack Kelly) and Margaret Katherine Kelly.
Grace's father was a three time Olympic gold medal winner (1920 and 1924 Olympics) in the sport of rowing. Grace's brother John Jr. also was an Olympic champion winning the bronze medal in 1956.
Grace Kelly desired to become an actress at an early age. After her high school graduation in 1947, Grace struck out on her own, heading to New York City's bright lights to try her luck there. Grace worked some as a model and made her Broadway debut in 1949. She also made a brief attempt at televsion appearing in such shows as Believe it Our Not (1950), and The Prudential Family Playhouse (1951).
Grace was not content with her work in New York and moved to Southern California to pursue a career in motion pictures.
Grace Kelly made her film debut in Fourteen Hours (1951). It was a small part, but a start.
The following year, she landed the role of Amy Kane in High Noon (1952) starring opposite Gary Cooper. She was now a household name.
Grace Kelly next appeared in Mogambo (1953) opposite Clark Gable and Ava Gardner. This performance would earn her an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress.
In 1954, she appeared in two Hitchcock films: Dial M for Murder and Rear Window.
Grace's next film would win her an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as Georgie Elgin in The Country Girl (1954).
She went on to appear in Green Fire (1954), The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954), Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief (1955), and The Swan (1956).
Grace Kelly's final silver screen appearance was as Tracy Lord in High Society (1956) starring opposite Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.
In April 1955, Grace Kelly headed the U.S. delegation at the Cannes Film Festival. While there, she was invited to participate in a photo session at the Palace of Monaco with Prince Rainer III, the ruling sovereign of the principality. Grace Kelly was introduced to the man who would become her husband and her life would change forever.
In December 1955, Prince Rainier came to America. Although the trip was designated officially as a tour, it was rumored he was actively seeking a wife. A 1918 treaty with France stated that if Rainier did not produce an heir, Monaco would revert to France.
At a press conference in the United States, Prince Rainier was asked if he was pursuing a wife, to which he answered "No." A second question was posed, asking, "If you were pursuing a wife, what kind would you like?" Rainier smiled and answered, "I don't know — the best."
While on this trip Prince Rainier met with Grace Kelly and her family, and after three days, the prince proposed. Grace broke off her engagement to Oleg Cassini and accepted Prince Rainer's proposal. The families began preparing for what the press called "The Wedding of the Century."
The couple would be married on April 19, 1956 and Grace Kelly would become Princess Grace of Monaco. Together the couple would have three children.
As princess, Grace 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.
Although she only appeared in eleven films and her career spanned only six years, Grace Kelly is one of our best known classic film actresses. In fact, she was the very first actress to appear on a postage stamp in 1993.
In October 2009, Princess Grace of Monaco becomes the first celebrity icon and 15th inductee immortalized in the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style which honors legends of style for their contributions to the worlds of fashion and entertainment joining Giorgio Armani, Edith Head, Tom Ford, Valentino Garavani and many others.
Her legacy lives on forever.
It was September 13, 1982. Princess Grace, while driving her daughter Stephanie from their country home, suffered a stroke which caused her to driver her vehicle off the serpentine road down a mountain side. She was in a local hospital. The next day, September 14th, it was announced that Princess Grace died as a result of her injuries, having never regained consciousness.