Afterlives of the Rich and Famous

Grace Kelly

She carried herself like royalty and became a princess. Her name was Grace Patricia Kelly, and she came into the world on November 12, 1929, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the third of four children born to Brendan “Jack” Kelly and his wife, Margaret. Grace’s determination to decide what she wanted and go after it came from her hardworking, ambitious parents. Her mother was the first female head of the University of Pennsylvania physical education department, and her father was an Olympic gold medalist in sculling (rowing) who returned home to become a self-made millionaire as a contractor and owner of a brick business.

Grace knew from childhood that she wanted to be an actress. Her natural beauty made her a popular local child model and performer. After an education at the finest private schools in Philadelphia, she auditioned her way into the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. She modeled to help support herself and finally won her first professional acting job, in a 1949 Broadway production of August Strindberg’s The Father.

Television and Grace’s career were in their prolific infancy at exactly the same time, and Grace was cast in almost sixty live television productions in New York before she happily gave in to the lure of Hollywood and headed west. Her first film role was a small part in 1951’s Fourteen Hours, directed by the esteemed Henry Hathaway. It wasn’t an important enough role to create any excitement on Grace’s behalf, so she returned to theater and television work. She was performing a play in Colorado in 1951 when she was surprised by a telegram from producer Stanley Kramer, offering her a role in High Noon, starring Gary Cooper and Lloyd Bridges. High Noon was a success, and the career of Grace Kelly was on its way. Next came the offer of a seven-year contract with MGM and a part in its upcoming Clark Gable–Ava Gardner film Mogambo. It was a prestigious project and a hit for both MGM and Grace—she received her first Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her work in Mogambo and won the 1953 Golden Globe Award in that same category.

Her talent and her virginal, pristine beauty caught the eye of director Alfred Hitchcock, and he cast her in his 1953 Ray Milland thriller Dial M for Murder, which elevated her to stardom and created a lasting professional relationship between Hitchcock and Grace. She’d finished her next film, The Bridges of Toko-Ri with William Holden, in 1954, when she received a telegram from Hitchcock confirming her appointment with Edith Head, Hollywood’s most prestigious costume designer, to begin her wardrobe fittings for his next film, Rear Window. Despite the fact that Hitchcock had never formally offered her a role in the film, Grace promptly turned down a role opposite Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront, kept her appointment with Edith Head, and costarred with James Stewart in Rear Window, another critical and box-office success for Alfred Hitchcock and Grace Kelly.

Next came The Country Girl, in which she reunited with William Holden and added Bing Crosby to her list of costars and fans. Both Grace Kelly and Judy Garland were the talk of the town that year, Grace for her stunning performance in The Country Girl
and Judy for her triumphant performance in A Star Is Born. They both won Golden Globes for their performances, and they were both nominated for Academy Awards, with Judy Garland being the odds-on favorite to win. After Grace won instead, Judy Garland was quoted as saying, “I didn’t appreciate Grace Kelly taking off her makeup and walking away with my Oscar.”

After a box-office failure called Green Fire, Grace was off to France for her third and final Hitchcock film, To Catch a Thief,
with Cary Grant, with whom she developed a close friendship and probable attraction that lasted for the rest of their lives. When asked to name his favorite costar in all his decades of film work, he replied simply and immediately, “Grace Kelly.”

Grace was delighted by the invitation to head the American delegation at the April 1955 Cannes Film Festival and travel to the Palace of Monaco for a photo session with Prince Rainier III, Monaco’s ruling sovereign. She kept it to herself that, after she returned to the United States to shoot The Swan with Alec Guinness and High Society with Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, she and the prince began an active correspondence that continued until his arrival in America in December 1955.

It was widely rumored that Rainier had come to the United States in search of a wife, for the most unromantic reason: according to a decades-old treaty, if Prince Rainier failed to produce an heir, Monaco would become a part of France again. For her part, Grace was twenty-seven, with all the career success she could ever have hoped for and ready for marriage, if she could find a man who met with her parents’ approval.

Shortly after his arrival in America, Prince Rainier III met with Grace and her parents. Three days later, Rainier proposed. The Kelly family provided the prince with the required $2 million dowry, and the world excitedly began to prepare for the “wedding of the century.” On April 18, 1956, in the palace throne room of Monaco, in front of six hundred guests and thirty million television viewers throughout Europe, Grace Kelly became Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco in a real-life fairy tale.

Immediately following the wedding, Prince Rainier banned all Grace Kelly films from the theaters in Monaco, and Grace never accepted another film role. Her first official act as Princess of Monaco was the founding of a nonprofit organization called AMADE Mondiale, dedicated to the well-being of children throughout the world. She also created the Princess Grace Foundation for the benefit of local artisans and held an annual Christmas party for local orphans. But her most important, highly publicized creations were her three children: Princess Caroline, born on January 23, 1957; Prince Albert II, born on March 15, 1958; and Princess Stephanie, born on February 1, 1965.

On September 13, 1982, Princess Grace was driving along a narrow mountain road, returning her daughter Stephanie to Monaco from their country home, when her car swerved off the road and careened down the rocky cliff. While Princess Stephanie survived the crash, Princess Grace died the following day at the age of fifty-two without ever regaining consciousness. A subsequent autopsy indicated that moments before Princess Grace lost control of the car, she suffered a catastrophic stroke, which was ruled to be the underlying cause of the accident.

Four hundred guests, including Cary Grant and Diana, Princess of Wales, attended the funeral, which was broadcast to an estimated hundred million viewers around the world. Princess Grace was buried in Monaco in the royal family vault, and Prince Rainier, who never remarried, was buried beside her when he died in 2005.

From Francine

Grace was too much in shock from the suddenness of her violent death to notice the large crowd that gathered to welcome her Home.She virtually fell into the arms of her father, who comforted her as best he could before he and her Spirit Guide, named Cordelia, gently took her to a cocooning chamber, while I’m told she repeatedly whispered, “Stephanie could have been killed.
Stephanie could have been killed.” She was reassured that her daughter Stephanie was going to be fine, but she was still so stunned and distraught that she was given the blessing of being cocooned for almost six years in your time. She emerged fully healed, radiant and eager to proceed to the Scanning Machine and then back to her thrilling life here.

She found her life themes of Infallibility and Winner to have been much more of a challenge than she’d anticipated when she chose them. But in the greatest possible overview of her last incarnation, which she insists really will be her last, she feels that the most important purpose she was on earth to fulfill was to bring her three children into the world—“not for my husband, not for the future of Monaco, but simply for the unique, extraordinary people they are.” (She wants Albert to know, incidentally, that she always knew that he would ascend to the throne with dignity, and she’s watching over him and his sisters “every moment of every day.”)

Given a choice, she says she would absolutely have continued her film career after marrying Rainier. She missed it terribly—the stimulation, the challenge, the sense of accomplishment, and above all the dear friends “who kept on making wonderful movies while I watched from the palace.” She quickly adds that her years as Princess Grace were painfully lonely, “but leaving would have meant losing my children, and that was unthinkable.” But now she looks back from the perspective of Home and realizes that she had no one to blame but herself for her loneliness. “I was blessed with so much. I was privileged, right from the beginning. It was a thrilling whirlwind of a life for the most part. But—no excuses—I devoted virtually no time at all to nourishing myself spiritually. I’m not referring to my charitable work, which came from my heart and was deeply important to me. I’m talking about all those hours alone when I felt empty and kept looking outside of myself to fill the void rather than inside. I enjoyed other people’s company far more than I enjoyed my own, and I found more depth in other people than I found in myself. The people I quietly envied were those who’d learned to be enough for themselves. It was an art I never took the time and trouble to master, and it would have cured my loneliness. And that was no one else’s responsibility but mine.”

Grace is making up for lost time on the Other Side. She’s hardly cloistered, but she chooses to live alone in a Georgian style house that she says “feels like home.” She studies both theology and spirituality and will begin training soon to become an Orientator. She’s also resumed her research work, but has changed her focus from medicine to the forensic sciences, a new passion she neither explains nor discusses. She loves going to the theater with friends, but has no interest in performing, and she’s an accomplished equestrienne.

She mentions in passing that she and Prince Rainier are perfectly pleasant on the rare occasions when they see each other, and she wants their children to know that they’re both watching over them and cherishing them.

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