Grace Kelly was an actress, a style icon and a European Princess. One of the most iconic actresses of the 20th century and whose life was on show for the world to watch. But there was something always so elusive about Her Serene Highness. She left you wanting to know more about her. And although her life seemed to be a fairytale, it can be a reminder that all that glitters is not gold. Here are 8 facts you may not know about Grace Kelly, the Princess of Monaco.
Her father and brother were Olympians: Grace Kelly was always destined for greatness, it was literally in her blood. Her father John B. Kelly Sr. was a rowing champion and had won 3 Olympic Gold Medals in the 1920s. Her brother Jack Kelly Jr. was also an Olympic rower and won a medal at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.
She was a model before she was an actress: While studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York in her early 20s, Grace managed to find some work as a model. She covered magazines and even featured in ads for cigarettes.
She loved love: Grace Kelly was known to enjoy romancing her leading men. Her more famous love affairs included Clark Gable, William Holden, Bing Crosby and Ray Milland. Milland almost broke up his marriage to be with her.
She was engaged before she met Prince Rainier: Kelly was secretly engaged to Russian-American fashion designer Oleg Cassini, who designed her 1955 Academy Awards gown, when she met Prince Rainier is May 1955. She was persuaded not to marry Cassini by her parents and was once quoted as saying “Do you realise if my mother hadn’t been so difficult about Oleg Cassini, I probably would have married him?”
She met her future husband during a press tour: Kelly was in Cannes for the 1955 Cannes Film Festival when she was invited to participate in a photo session with Prince Rainier at his Palace in Monaco, which was 55 kms away from Cannes. They both felt an immediate connection upon meeting and maintained and grew their relationship via letters and telephone calls until Rainier made a diplomatic trip to America in December 1955 and made a marriage proposal to Kelly. The rest is history!
Her wedding dress would inspire women for decades after her 1956 wedding: Grace Kelly’s royal wedding dress has gone on to become one of the most iconic wedding dresses of all time. It was gifted to her by movie studio MGM and designed by costume designer Helen Rose, who had worked on Kelly’s wardrobe for four of her films. It used over 400 yards of fabric and broke down into 10 pieces. And over 50 years on, the dress is still as influential as ever. The wedding dress of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge wore at her own wedding in 2011 was said to be inspired by it.
She quit acting to become a Princess and all her films were banned in Monaco: Although she quickly became one of the most talented and influential actors of the 1950s, to become the Princess of Monaco, she had to give up her career. Something she would come to later regret. Prince Rainier ended up banning all of her films from being shown in Monaco, saying that it was not very dignified for someone of her new position.
Hermes name an iconic bag after her: Grace was introduced to the Hermes ‘Bugatti’ handbag in 1954 by costume designer Edith Head. According to Head, she was said to have “fallen in love with it”. Within months of her 1956 wedding to Prince Rainier, Kelly was pregnant and she would use the handbag to protect her growing stomach from the ever-present paparazzi. Thanks to the Princess’ fashion icon status, the handbag immediately achieved great popularity and became known as the Kelly bag, although it would not be officially renamed until 1977.