A Prince . . . Catches A Star—Grace Kelly & Rainier III
The two men and the girl riding in the fabulously expensive convertible from New York to Philadelphia on the morning of January 5, 1956, looked exactly as people inside a fabulously expensive convertible should—but seldom do.
The girl was a breathtakingly lovely blond. One of the men, obviously American, was slim, handsome, and visibly well-bred. The other was just as visibly a Continental and, while he was very relaxed, he still displayed an air of jaunty authority.
All three of them were smiling, as well they should, for they were sharing the most wildly romantic secret—known only to the three of them (they thought) and. the girl’s parents. At that moment, they were heading toward the girl’s home, to let the whole world in on their story that was so glamorous it seemed incredible—but was actually true.
“Turn on some music,” the girl said, “I feel like singing.” The American, who was doing the driving, flipped on the radio to a music station. “We are interrupting this program to bring you a news flash,” said the announcer at that exact second. “It has just been announced that Grace Kelly, the movie star, has become engaged to Prince Rainier III, ruler of the principality of Monaco.”
Instantly, Morgan Hudgins, who was driving the car, pulled it to a stop, cut the ignition, and snapped off the radio. “But how?” he gasped.
His Serene Highness, Rainier III—Duc de Valentinois, Marquis des Beaux, Baron du Buis, and some other twenty-four legal names—also gasped, “But how?”
But the beautiful girl in the car, Grace Kelly, laughed merrily. Bowing with ironic dignity to the very handsome, thirty-two-year-old prince seated beside her, she said, “Your Serene Highness, I fear your country doesn’t know how to keep a secret.” Then turning her happy eyes to Hudgins—who has been her press agent ever since she signed her M-G-M contract in 1952, and has gradually become her close, good friend—she said, “So now let us go on to attend Mr. and Mrs. Kelly’s announcement to the press and see if the cat which got let out of the bag has left even the bag behind it.”
Thus it was that Grace Kelly’s unbelievably perfect love story was released to the world. Thus it is that one of the most incredible careers that even incredible Hollywood has ever seen reaches a new height. And thus it was that this flawless young beauty, with her flawless taste, demonstrated once again her positive genius for working her life out with the perfection that all lives should work out—but not one in a million ever does.
That day, January 5, Grace Kelly and her bachelor prince—handsome, young, colorful and intelligent absolute ruler of his small kingdom—went on to answer the hundreds of questions from scores of reporters, pose for hundreds of pictures for scores of photographers, talk into microphones, talk into tape recorders.
Next day and the days following, there were literally hundreds of thousands of words written about them and hundreds of photographs of them printed, throughout this country and abroad.
Yet here’s a story that clearly reveals Grace’s feelings toward this really superior man who has won her dreaming young heart. And there are others, including the real story of their meeting.
Rainier III, direct descendant of a royal house which has ruled his kingdom for many centuries, accustomed to publicity all his life—as all royalty has to become accustomed—was, nevertheless, quite overwhelmed by the deluge of publicity that engulfed him when he became Grace Kelly’s fiancé. Shepherded by Morgan Hudgins, helped by Grace, he went charmingly through the first big press conference, the first photographic onslaught. But, when the three of them headed back to New York that evening and he went to his hotel and saw the mob of reporters waiting there, he had his car circle the hotel for nearly three hours before he managed to slip in unseen through a side door. And the next night, when he led his princess-to-be into the Monte Carlo Ball at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York (Monte Carlo being Monaco’s most colorful spot as well as its chief source of income), he had to run the publicity gauntlet again, answer more questions, pose for more pictures.
“By now,” he said to Grace, “I thought we could be alone—at least somewhat, have some privacy.”
Grace, who has to wear flat heels so that she won’t top him, gave him her radiant smile and gave his hand a small, comforting squeeze. Maybe she was remembering the quote that her royal husband-to-be had given out only last spring to Collier’s, when for the first time he had publicly mentioned that he knew he must marry and have an heir or Monaco would lose its throne. Rainier certainly knew he was the greatest matrimonial catch in all Europe but, he had said then, “I consider it a duty to my people to get married, but there is a higher duty above politics, the duty of a man to be true to himself, to fulfill himself as a human being, by taking a wife he loves and consummating that love. I will not marry except for love. I will not agree to a loveless marriage.”
And surely Grace was recalling that Rainier also said he did not like girls who were “highly charged sexy wenches.” His ideal girl, he had said, was “fair-haired and of light complexion, graceful and feminine, with a sort of subtle beauty that grows on you, with long, flowing hair, free to the wind.” He had barely known Grace at that time, and yet he had described her exactly.
Yet, that was just what her hair had not been—long and flowing and free to the wind—the first time she met him. It was much to her distress that it was not. For Grace did not meet His Highness while she was making “To Catch a Thief,” as almost every story about their engagement has said. The truth is much simpler—and probably from Grace’s angle—more satisfying. For beneath all her beauty, behind all her talent, she is a serious girl, coming from a serious, hard-working—albeit vastly colorful—family.
Grace met Rainier when both of them were working at their respective jobs. She was making a layout for the French picture magazine, Paris Match. The Prince agreed to be photographed with her because the publicity would be good for his little kingdom.
This occurred late last spring, a good time after “To Catch a Thief” had been filmed, and at first all their meeting seemed to have led to was the red-hot rumors that Grace was madly in love with Jean Pierre Aumont and he with her.
Grace had gone to Cannes, in the south of France—and only a few miles from Monaco (which, incidentally, the Prince has taught her is pronounced MONaco)—for its famous Film Festival. A lot of other Hollywood personalities had gone, too, but certainly—and characteristically—Grace was the only one who had a chaperone. This lady—and a lady of title—was Gladys de Segonzac.
Probably no girl who has ever achieved film fame needs a chaperone less than the beautifully-bred Grace Kelly. She had no chaperone—nor did she need one—in North Africa when she was making “Mogambo” with Clark Gable . . . or in South America when she was making “Green Fire” with Stewart Granger . . . or in Japan when she was doing “The Bridges at Toko-Ri” with Bill Holden . . . or on a desert location when she was making “High Noon” with Gary Cooper.
Yet, the very fact that she did have Gladys de Segonzac along, proved how much she had learned about Hollywood and how far she had come from her more naive days when she made “Mogambo” and nearly got her heart broken by Gable in the process—of which, I’ll tell you more later.
On the trip to the Cannes Film Festival, Grace had Gladys along for companionship when she wanted it, and for a convenient alibi from engagements she didn’t want to accept. But she never thought of taking Gladys along on such a workaday thing as the layout she had agreed to make for Paris Match, a layout which had been set up by Pierre Galante, the ace French journalist, who is married to Olivia de Havilland.
Actually, the layout was arranged with such rapidity that Grace, herself, wasn’t ready for it. As a fashion model in New York, before she achieved film fame, she had mastered the trick of looking perfectly groomed all day, even though many of those days meant working from nine in the morning till six or seven at night. And, as Grace, herself, has said of modeling, “You learn how to stand and smile, hour after hour and never let your hair get disarranged, or your lipstick blurred, even though your head is aching violently and you think you may faint of fatigue.”
In Cannes, however, Pierre Galante called for Grace so early and so suddenly, she hadn’t had time to have her hair set, or her traveling dress pressed. Grace bound her hair back under a scarf, gave her dress as good a shake-out from its slight wrinkles as she could, put on her glasses—which her near-sightedness necessitates when she’s not in front of the camera—and set out. She was aware of not looking her best, a fact that annoyed her. She wasn’t entirely aware, until they were well underway, that Galante often acted as a kind of press agent for Monaco and its Prince.
The Prince’s palace has a mere 295 rooms with sixty servants to maintain it. Actually, his own quarters consist of a five-room apartment, done in quiet, modern luxury. Anchored in the near-by Mediterranean, are his three yachts, one of which is 141 feet long. In the palace garage, and naturally Grace did not know this, were fifteen different cars, though Rainier insists he doesn’t buy more than about six a year. He also has a private villa in near-by France, an apartment in Paris, his private menagerie in Monaco, his eight-man motorcycle escort and his small, private, but highly efficient army.
The day the pictures were to be taken for the Paris Match layout, the Prince kept Miss Kelly waiting for an hour. But once he got there, he was very polite and considerate. He brought out one of his lion cubs and asked Grace to pose with it. “Your Leo the Lion is much too old for you to be seen with,” he explained, alluding to M-G-M’s famous mascot. And, if Grace was delighted to discover that he spoke flawless English, Rainier was probably just as delighted to discover that she spoke flawless French.
The picture-taking was soon over, however. The lion cub went back to its cage, the Prince went back to his palace, the movie star went back to Cannes. Two days later, she accidentally ran into Jean Pierre Aumont in Cannes—or so Grace thought at the time.
It was not their first meeting. As long ago as 1953, they had played together in a dramatic sketch on TV. Jean Pierre was then the recent widower of Maria Montez and the lovely Miss Kelly was still completely unknown, a rich Philadelphia girl determinedly making her own living, a beauty who insisted she could and would learn to act. On the Riviera in 1955, Jean Pierre was a widower, very charming, very debonair, very devoted.
The main thing people always forget in discussing Grace’s sexual charm is that every one of the fascinating men with whom her name has been associated in Hollywood—Clark Gable, Ray Milland, Bing Crosby, Spencer Tracy—is old enough to be her father.
Not so Jean Pierre, however. And it was spring on the Riviera, the nights were made for dancing, the air was scented with flowers and the moon was full. So it was only natural that twenty-six-year-old Miss Kelly, often chaperoned by her friend Gladys, should go dancing and dining with such an eligible bachelor and thoroughly enjoy it. Until that evening that is, when they were alone in a very out-of-the-way little restaurant, out of doors, and Jean Pierre was making ardent speeches and gestures, and she heard a camera shutter click. Startled, Grace glanced around and saw a cameraman rushing away. There was no way the cameraman could have known where she was—without having been told.
M-G-M finally tracked the photographer down for her and tried to get the negatives away from him, but he insisted they were already sold. And it was even worse when Grace discovered that during a previous evening, at a theatre with Jean Pierre, she had been photographed by an infra-red camera—meaning she couldn’t possibly know that the shots were being taken. Both sets of photographs, looking highly romantic, were published after Grace got back to America, and Jean Pierre gave out ardent statements regarding her. Grace, after her fashion, said nothing—just as she has never revealed, by so much as the flutter of an eyelash, the heart turmoil that Clark Gable caused her when they made “Mogambo” together, a turmoil that may very well have served her well later, perhaps, in making “The Country Girl.”
She learns from everything, this Kelly girl. This is her outstanding characteristic and she cannot be fully understood unless you recognize this wonderful quality in her.
For instance, she gave the impression between “Fourteen Hours,” her first film, and “High Noon,” her second—more than a year later—that she wasn’t too interested in movies.
She gave out that impression—but she never said so in words. And the impression was not true. For one thing, Grace is a creative artist through and through, and she loves acting with the passion of a creator. But with her intelligence, nobody had to tell her that she hadn’t registered at all in “Fourteen Hours.” While it isn’t generally known, she had this fact pointed out to her by the swift brutality of several Hollywood agents who—to their eternal chagrin—refused to handle her.
A lesser girl might have been so discouraged she would have quit, then and there. Or a foolish one might have given out large statements, as many have, about hating Hollywood.
Not Grace. She went back to New York, and back to work, on TV, or in little theatres, or anything else in which she could learn her chosen profession. But when Stanley Kramer came after her for “High Noon,” she acted just faintly reluctant, just faintly uneager—just enough to be provocative and different.
She was very sweet and charming in “High Noon.” No more than that—but the part called for no more than that. However, M-G-M signed her for seven years (which she now bitterly regrets) and put her in “Mogambo.” Her role in “Mogambo” didn’t call for much more than had “High Noon.”
As for being in that film, she was more excited by the prospect of traveling which it offered, than by playing opposite Gable. Grace is mad for travel. It was, she feels, the one thing she got out of “Green Fire,” and it was a definite factor in her accepting both “The Bridges at Toko-Ri” and “To Catch a Thief.”
But with “Mogambo,” the mystic spell of Africa and the most human spell of Clark Gable both affected her.
Gable is a terrific male, and one of his greatest charms is that he automatically flirts with every woman he meets, even if she’s an age-weary grandmother. With a girl of twenty-four as beautiful as Grace, as challenging in her fine breeding, her intelligence and subtle humor, this was the sort of dish that hadn’t been set before the King in many a year, if ever.
After and before a day’s film shooting, Gable and Miss Kelly (and Miss Kelly she was to everyone for most of the time) would go off together, out into the desert nights, out into the desert dawns. They were never alone, of course, for there was always a white hunter with them. But soon “Kelly,” as Clark called her, and “Mr. Gable,” as she always called him in a crowd, were constantly together.
Later, when he was in Paris, going around with Suzanne Dadolle, the model, Clark said Grace was “just a kid.” He said she was “the finest sport he’d ever met,” just “a nice kid.” And naturally he came up with the classic about their being just good friends.
What he didn’t talk about was the touching little episode witnessed by other members of the “Mogambo” company on Christmas morning. They were camped on the Kajera River in Tanganyika then, and they were all so far from home that most of them were ignoring Christmas. Not Grace. At dawn, the morning of the 25th, she tiptoed from her tent to Gable’s, and pinned on the flap of it a pair of red socks which she had personally knitted for him.
Nor did he mention that, when the company returned to London, he never once called Grace. In effect, after seeing her practically every waking moment in Africa, he dropped her cold in London. Grace’s mother flew over to join her, however. And to show the girl’s quality, there is the other fact that in a film that was supposed to be all Gable’s and then all Ava Gardner’s, it was Miss Kelly who gave the only performance that merited an Academy Award nomination.
Grace returned to Hollywood to have Alfred Hitchcock and Ray Milland happen to her.
Hitchcock, Grace feels, has been one of the most beneficial forces in her career. With him she has made not only “Dial M for Murder,” the Milland picture, but “Rear Window” and “To Catch a Thief.” As for Hitch, he says only Grace Kelly has what he calls “sexual elegance.” Hitchcock maintains a relationship with stars that almost no other director, with the possible exception of John Ford, has. Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly are all devotees of Hitch and will sign for any film of his, without even seeing the script. While the Hitchcock-Kelly friendship has been artistic collaboration, her relationship with Ray Milland was personal and emotional. As most people know, Ray fell quite heavily for Grace. But, when she learned that, although he was separated from his wife, he was definitely not divorced or even apparently contemplating divorce, Grace drew back into such a shell of well-bred reserve as to be positively chilling.
But few people in Hollywood stopped to consider how very hurt she well might have been behind her perfect, cool appearance. Grace was always much too intelligent and refined to go out with the known “wolves” of Hollywood. But it still must have irked her if she discovered, as she probably did, that Spencer Tracy agreed to go to the Foreign Correspondents Press Dinner only if M-G-M would see to it that Grace went with him—and that he asked for the date with her because he wanted to square his accounts with Gable. There’s always been a kind of popularity feud between these two. Spence felt if Gable had dated Kelly, then he, too, ought to date Kelly.
Miss Kelly fixed this, however, in her own smooth way. She made it a foursome: she had her press agent, Mr. Hudgins, Spence and Emily Torchia, his press agent. And all evening, she talked to Mr. Tracy about how she would give her pretty eye teeth get the leading role in “The Country Girl.”
And what do you know—the next day Tracy went to his friend, Bill Perlberg, producer of “The Country Girl,” and told him he was plain crazy if he didn’t test Grace Kelly for the role—for which, as you remember, she received the Oscar. However, Tracy never received another date with her.
But with Bing Crosby, her co-star in “The Country Girl,” Grace occasionally danced and dined, and Bing said, “I wish I were twenty years younger.” And with Cary Grant, her co-star in “To Catch a Thief,” Grace became a close friend, particularly of his wife, Betsy. And in New York, and while on the Riviera making “To Catch a Thief,” she seemed to be having a bit of flurry with Oleg Cassini, the ex-husband of Gene Tierney. And, again, he was 42 to her 26, though a most charming gentleman, who doesn’t bother to use his title of Count in this country. And last spring, Grace noted the wide-spread publicity Jean Pierre Aumont received from dating her—much more than he had received a couple of years before from dating Barbara Stanwyck.
Then Grace Kelly, who truly had everything—beauty, youth, fame, wealth, an Academy Award—went back to Hollywood and into “The Swan.” This picture is about a beautiful princess who falls in love and then gives up her love for the good of her country. (Any resemblance between this story and a certain royal British romance is purely intentional.)
All during the making of “The Swan,” exquisite, lovely, intelligent Miss Kelly—who certainly had everything—went home night after night, following the day’s shooting, and retired very early. Naturally slim, the gowns she wore in “The Swan” required her to be even slimmer. So she refused invitations, saying she was finding the picture unusually fatiguing. But isn’t it also possible she was retiring, too, from the disillusion most of her Hollywood dating had brought her?
In Philadelphia, Mrs. Kelly said, “I know how great Grace’s success has been, but I do hope she’s not lonely.” The Kellys are a devoted family and all love one another greatly, the three sisters, the one handsome brother, the extremely handsome mother and father.
Yes, indeed, she had everything. Except what every girl, twenty-six or sixteen, or sixty, or a romantic like Grace Kelly, wants most.
Then, as the new year approached, the incredible happened. Prince Rainier III of Monaco, a mere five years her senior, came to America and went to Philadelphia to see John Kelly. He did what no Hollywood man would ever have thought of doing. He asked permission of Mr. Kelly to court his daughter—even before he had told Grace of his hopes and intentions.
Grace’s engagement ring, a band of diamonds entwined with a band of rubies, represents the royal colors of Monaco. Grace and Rainier plan to be married in the spring, as soon as she has finished, appropriately enough, “High Society,” and as soon as His Serene Highness has completed some royal business matters.
After returning to Hollywood, Grace wasted no time in beginning preparations for the wedding. Fabulous offers began pouring in from couturiers all over the world, asking permission to make her trousseau without charge or even pay her for the privilege. For a while, Grace followed her well-established habit of saying nothing. Then, finally, she made her choice—Helen Rose, the noted M-G-M designer who has dressed Grace for her three top films. Miss Rose, who is an authority on the Kelly chic, says Grace’s bridal gown will undoubtedly be austere in line, since this is what the princess-to-be always desires. No dress can ever be made too simple for her tastes. The gown will most likely be of white satin with real lace, and underneath Grace will wear what she calls a “pretty color”—for this is what she has always insisted upon in her movie clothes: the palest blues, pinks, yellows. No doodads, no trimmings, and a “pretty color.” These are Grace’s desire.
And so, she who was the lonely princess in “The Swan” will become Her Serene Highness, the Princess of Monaco, and live in the royal palace of 295 rooms, in a fairytale land where there are no income taxes, no wars, few crimes—nothing but pleasure pursued. The royal palace is right next door to the opera house, where ballet, operas and dramas are performed constantly. It overlooks the Mediterranean where Grace and the Prince can go swimming or yachting. Next door is France, and only a mile or so south is Italy.
What’s more, it appears that the lady can go on with her career. Why not, when few films take more than six or eight weeks to be shot, and Grace’s salary is somewhere around $100,000 for such a period? M-G-M says she has virtually promised to come back, after her marriage, and make “Designing Woman” for them.
This is not an appropriate title. For Grace is a thoughtful woman, an idealist, a dreamer and a doer, who will undoubtedly make the most beautiful princess the world has ever seen.
And if she does have an heir or heirs to the centuries-old throne of Monaco and she and the Prince live happily ever after, who could ask for anything more?
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE APRIL 1956