Apr 18, 1956: the day a movie star became a princess

Grace Kelly
Grace Kelly in ‘the dress’ she wore in Rear Window

She was the quintessential movie star and the coolest-ever cool blonde — and on this day in 1956, Grace Patricia Kelly of Philadelphia became Princess Grace of Monaco in a ceremony that was dubbed (pre-Charles and Di) the ‘wedding of the century’.

Kelly had met Prince Rainier III just a year earlier, when she was at Cannes promoting her Hitchcock-directed To Catch a Thief. As part of the promotion, a photo shoot was staged with the Prince. After the shoot, true to form, the cool Kelly said simply, “He is a very charming man.” The Prince’s Catholic priest played matchmaker and sent a thank-you note to Kelly mentioning “the deep impression this has left on him”.

And they were off. By January 1956, they were engaged, and on April 18th — just a week after Kelly finished shooting her final movie, High Society — they were married.

They had three children, Caroline (1957), Albert (1958) and Stephanie (1965). 

On Monday morning, September 13th, 1982, Grace and Stephanie were driving back to Monaco from their country home near the French border. Suddenly the Rover started to swerve erratically. Kelly was having a stroke. Stephanie tried desperately to take control of the wheel, but her efforts were in vain: Approaching a hairpin turn, the car sped up, crashed through a barrier and careened down a 120 foot slope. Rushed to hospital, Kelly died the following evening. Stephanie managed to escape with relatively minor injuries.

Grace Kelly was 52.

Her son Albert, now 60, remains Monaco’s reigning monarch today.

Grace Kelly marries Prince Rainier  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiOKFzRHm14 (3 min, 39 sec)

The hairpin turn at ‘Devil’s Curse’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlW3GjzI-G8 (14 min, 27 sec) (Skip to 14:00; the turn is at 14:25. Kelly went straight.)

Grace Kelly’s funeral, with Princess Diana in attendance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_y0HNisfhvA (4 min, 47 sec) (Diana is at :27, 2:45 and 4:02)

The best Grace Kelly scene ever (in ‘the dress’) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGASCP2mNaM (1 min, 2 sec)

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