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A highly popular film actress in the 1950s, Grace Kelly starred in movies such as Dial M for Murder and To Catch a Thief. She married Prince Rainier III of Monaco.
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He arranged for her to play his very young wife in High Noon (1952), an acclaimed Western that put her on the path to stardom. A year later, Kelly was offered a role in Mogambo (1953), a film set in Kenya, starring Clark Gable and Ava Gardner. While filming Mogambo, Kelly had an affair with Gable. Later she said, "What else is there to do if you're alone in a tent in Africa with Clark Gable?
" Mogambo marked a turning point in Kelly's career: She was nominated for her first Academy Award and won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress. MGM offered her a seven-year contract, which she accepted on the condition that she live in Manhattan every other year so that she could pursue stage work.
Kelly turned down the role of Edie Doyle in On the Waterfront (opposite Marlon Brando) so that she could work with her soon-to-be friend and mentor Alfred Hitchcock. In the 1950s, Kelly made three films with the legendary master of suspense: Rear Window, Dial M for Murder, and To Catch a Thief. Hitchcock considered Kelly the epitome of the femme fatale: She had beauty, style, and "sexual elegance." Jimmy Stewart, her costar in Rear Window, said, "She's too perfect…. She's too talented. She's too beautiful. She's too sophisticated. She's too everything but what I want."
In 1954, Kelly won the role of Georgie Elgin in The Country Girl opposite Bing Crosby and William Holden. It was not a glamorous role for Kelly, who portrayed the dowdy and neglected wife of an alcoholic. She gave a raw and uncharacteristically stripped-down performance, which garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. This time she won, beating Judy Garland in A Star Is Born to claim the Academy Award.
At this point in her career, Kelly was one of the highest paid and most respected actresses in the world. In 1955, she was asked to join the United States Delegation Committee at the Cannes Film Festival in France. During a photo shoot, she met Prince Rainier III of Monaco, who happened to be seeking a bride. If he didn't produce an heir, Monaco would become part of France. The prince once described his ideal bride: "I see her with long hair floating in the wind, the color of autumn leaves. Her eyes are blue or violet, with flecks of gold." The press glamorized their courtship, depicting it as a fairytale romance. A year later, their wedding date was set.
After marrying Prince Rainier on April 19, 1956, in a very public and ornate ceremony, Kelly abandoned her acting career in order to become Princess Consort of Monaco. She was also required to give up her American citizenship, and Prince Rainier banned her films in Monaco.
The royal couple had three children: Princess Caroline, Prince Albert, and Princess Stéphanie. Despite many attempts by filmmakers to lure Princess Grace back into the film industry, she resisted, embracing her role as a ceremonial leader of Monaco. She became very involved in many cultural and charitable organizations over the course of her life. Though some believe she deeply missed her acting career, she often spoke of the rampant problems afflicting the film industry: "Hollywood amuses me.
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