213: Grace Kelly, Princess Grace of Monaco

Robert LeRoy Knudsen - http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKWHP-KN-C17888.aspx The Prince and Princess of Monaco arrive at the White House for a luncheon.
The Prince and Princess of Monaco arrive at the White House for a luncheon in 1961. (Photo by Robert Leroy Knudsen via Wikimedia Commons)
Today would have been the 86th birthday of actress Grace Kelly, later Princess Grace of Monaco.

Here are some things you may not have known about Kelly and the Principality of Monaco.

Grace Kelly was born to a wealthy family in Philadelphia. Her father won three Olympic gold medals in rowing and was a Philadelphia city councilman. Her mother was a beauty queen and model, who later became the women’s track and field coach at the University of Pennsylvania.

Kelly began acting at the age of 12. Her high school yearbook predicted she would be “a famous star of stage and screen.” She pursued acting professionally despite her father’s disapproval. He viewed the profession as “a slim cut above streetwalker.”

In 1951, she made her film debut in “Fourteen Hours,” and a year later appeared in “High Noon” with Gary Cooper. In 1954, Kelly co-starred in five movies, including Alfred Hitchcock’s “Dial M for Murder” and “Rear Window,” along with “The Country Girl” for which she earned a best actress Academy Award. A year later, she worked for Hitchcock again with Cary Grant in “To Catch a Thief.” That year, she met Prince Rainier of Monaco, who was touring the United States.

The couple married in a civil ceremony on April 18, 1956, and a Catholic ceremony the next day. More than 700 guests attended, including Cary Grant, David Niven, Gloria Swanson, Ava Gardner, Conrad Hilton and Aristotle Onassis. Frank Sinatra was invited, but did not attend. The Prince and Princess took a seven-week honeymoon cruise on the Mediterranean.

As Princess, Kelly was forced to give up her acting career. Her final role was in “High Society,” released in 1956.

The royal couple had three children, Princess Caroline, born in 1957; Prince Albert, born in 1958; and Princess Stephanie, born in 1965.

On September 13, 1982, Princess Grace suffered a stroke while driving back from the family’s summer home. She drove off the road and plunged 120 feet down the mountainside. The following night, Rainier took her off of life support and she died at the age of 52.

Prince Rainier reigned until his death in 2005. Prince Albert is the current monarch of Monaco.

Monaco is the second smallest country by area in the world at about .78 square miles, roughly the size of 90 city blocks. It is also the most densely populated with almost 49,000 people per square mile. The United States has about 85 people per square mile. Monaco is located on the Mediterranean Sea and is bordered by France on three sides. It is a principality, meaning that the ruler’s title is prince, not king.

The country is widely known for its gambling industry and reputation as a tax shelter. In 2014, it was estimated that 30 percent of the population was made up of millionaires. It’s also the home of one of the world’s most recognizable sporting events, the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix.

Our question, What are the other two principalities in Europe besides Monaco?

Today is World Pneumonia Day. It’s also Constitution Day in Azerbaijan. It’s the birthday of women’s rights activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, sculptor Auguste Rodin and musician Neil Young.


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