The Death of Grace Kelly Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco

Grace Patricia Kelly
November 12, 1929 – September 14, 1982“Oh, I love funny exit lines.”

“Shenever distanced herself from others. Even so, as soon as she came on the set,everyone fell silent.— Cary Grant

To the public, Her Serene Highness PrincessGrace of Monaco, the legendary Hollywood screen siren Grace Kelly always managedto maintain the image of cool elegance and perfect happiness. And why not? Shewas the perfect embodiment of beauty, talent, style, elegance, royalty, andsexual charisma. But in private, Grace Kelly was deeply troubled anddisappointed with her arrogant, petulant prince, her headstrong daughters, herdecision to leave a successful screen career at the height of her popularity,and her infidelities with a succession of handsome men. Proving once again thatfairy tale endings are just that – fairy tales.

Born into the Kelly family of Philadelphia,her father Jack Kelly was a strapping, all-American Olympic champion who, atsix-foot-two, exuded overwhelming confidence and power who came to dominateeveryone and everything in his domain. While Jack was brilliant at projectingthe illusion that he was a self-made man who had pulled himself up by his ownbootstraps, the truth was luck and a loan from his brothers played a large partin elevating him from a failed politician to a successful businessman and fatherof a future Academy Award winning actress. A bricklayer by trade, his brothersWalter and George (Walter Kelly was afamous vaudevillian actor best known forhis racist monologue “The Virginia Judge.” George Kelly was a Pulitzer Prizewinning playwright whose homosexuality was a closely guarded secret within thefamily.) lent their younger brother $7,000 to start Kelly For Brickwork and Jackwas on his way to earn his first million.

Want to see their estate at 3901Henry Avenue in East Falls section of Philadelphia?  

Kelly memorabiliacan be found in New Jersey at the Ocean City Historical Museum (their formerSpanish style vacation home is still standing on the corner of Welsey Avenue and26th  it’s the home with the turrets).

Grace was educated at Philadelphia’s RavenHill Academy 

and Stevens School, now owned by thePhiladelphiaUniversity.  

A gorgeous campus.

Although Grace spent her youth surrounded byprivilege and wealth (the Levy Family of CBS fame were their neighbors), theKelly family was not listed in the Philadelphia Blue Book – the defacto Who’s Who of Philadelphia society. Unlike New York or Boston, one has to beborn into the Assemblies where old blood and old money rule the day. Philly’scharmed circle is Old Guard and they make no apologies about it – no blacks,no Catholics, no Jews, and no nouveaux riches. Naturally self-made IrishCatholic bricklayers need not apply and this pissed Jack Kelly off to no end.Nonetheless this didn’t stop Grace from achieving an active social calendar.From jocks, lifeguards from Ocean City, and local boys alike, Grace was datingand loving it. “Grace really was a lovely girl. I took her out in myfather’s Lincoln so her father thought we had money,” recalled Dick Boccelli,one of her teenage boyfriends. “Grace knew I didn’t but that didn’t matterto her. She had a great personality, a good sense of humor, was bright, sharpand fun to be with.” Dick later became the drummer for Bill Haley and theComets.

Grace Kelly’s acting career started almostby accident. During the summer of 1947 she set sail for England with her familyto support her older brother Kell at his second try to win the Diamond Sculls(it’s a rowing thing). On board with the Kellys was another powerful,Catholic, Irish, wealthy family – the Kennedys. It comes as no surprisethat the young Jack Kennedy met, dated, and fell in love with Grace. At first,patriarch Joe Kennedy wanted the two to get married, however by the end of thetrip abroad Joe reconsidered, deciding that Grace was too “Hollywood” (sidenote: when Jackie found out about the relationship between Grace and her thenPresident husband, she hated Princess Grace with a passion).  Upon their return Grace and her mother Margaret took a roadtrip through the New England states to enroll Grace in college. Unfortunately totheir surprise they were about six months too late – all the colleges werefilled and ready to start in two weeks. They made a trip to New York City andimplored the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (where Gene Tierney, Kate Hepburn,Spencer Tracy, and Kirk Douglas all studied at one time) to consider heradmission. With a little help from name-dropping, George Kelly family friend andColumbia Records exec Manie Sacks (the same Manie who loaned Frank Sinatra themoney to buy his way out of the Tommy Dorsey contract), and father Jack, she wasadmitted.

Now finally on her own, living at theBarbizon Hotel for Women onSixty-Third Street, Grace’s goal was to becomeself-supporting. With acting classes in the morning and modeling gigs in theafternoon, Grace became very successful very quickly. She was paid handsomely(sometimes as much as $2,000 per photo shot) promoting bug sprays, Old Goldcigarettes, Lux Toilet Soap, and live commercials hocking the latest appliancesfrom Electrolux. In addition to attending classes with the future Anne Bancroft,she was seducing fellow actor Alex D’Arcy (How to Marry a Millionaire anddrinking buddy of Errol Flynn) and her married acting instructor Don Richardson.”When she was modeling, she used to wear a Merry Widow corset with a cinch topull her waist in,” recalled Richardson before he died. “So she would stripdown to nothing but her Merry Widow and run around the place, cooking andcleaning and all that, with her buttocks only barely covered. She wasmarvelously endowed in that department.” I bet she was.

After fifty or so live televisionappearances beginning in the 1950s, several live theater gigs, and doing thenasty with the Shah of Iran, Grace also filmed a brief vignette that made up themovie Fourteen Hours. But despite stories and rumors to thecontrary, it wasn’t her brief on-screen debut nor her stage talents inColorado summer stock that landed her starring role in High Noonwith Gary Cooper. As producer Stanley Kramer remembered, “I wanted somebodyunknown opposite Gary Cooper. I couldn’t afford anyone else. So I signedher.” And to answer that nagging question regarding Coop and Grace – no theydidn’t. But he did walk away with an Oscar.

Grace returned to New York after the filmingof High Noon and continued her romance with actor Gene Lyons(great actor but a flaming drunk reduced to a bit part on TV’s Ironsidebefore he died hammered). After director John Ford (Stagecoach)saw a screen test of Grace, he cast her opposite Clark Gable in Mogambo(despite the 28-year age difference and false teeth, she still had herself someClark – oh yeah she did). Grace followed the success of Mogambowith the NBC drama Way of an Eagle starring the debonair Frenchactor Jean-Pierre Aumont (nailed it!), Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murderwith Ray Milland (tapped that too!), Rear Window with JimmyStewart (nope, sorry, not Jimmy), The Country Girl with BingCrosby, and William Holden (oh hell yeah!), and later To Catch a Thief withCary Grant (just good friends). And somewhere along the line she bumped uglieswith Tony Curtis. Oh yes.

Sue Ladd, the widow of Alan Ladd, told GraceKelly biographer James Spada that while Bing’s then wife Dixie was battling terminal cancer, Bing was popping Grace in the Ladds’ home. Thiswas right before the filming of The Country Girl (around1951-1952). It was either on S. Serrano Ave in LA 

or N. Mapleton Drive in Beverly Hills. 

I do know the house had a pool in the back, so probably the Mapletonaddress, which is where Ladd tried to commit suicide. He succeeded later in Palm Springs.

In her final year in Hollywood, Grace,nominated for Best Actress for her performance in The Country Girl,was up against Judy Garland for her role in A Star is Born. Afterthe Oscars were awarded, Grace was sharing the post-awards ceremony with MarlonBrando (Best Actor for On the Waterfront) when Brando slippedGrace his phone number. After Grace slipped out of the post-Oscar party atRomanoff’s, Grace hooked up with Brando at her Beverly Hills Hotel Bungalow.During the tryst, a drunken Bing Crosby suddenly appears at her door to findBrando and Grace in flagrante delicato. Bing gets thrown out the door on his ass,leaving the naked Grace alone with Brando again. Two hours later the phonerings, and a famously slurred voice screams into the phone, “This is JudyGarland – JUDY FUCKING GARLAND YOU BITCH! You took what was rightfullymine. Tonight was my last chance for the Oscar. You’ll have many more chancesin the future. This was it for me. I’ll NEVER FORGIVE YOU!” And Judy slammeddown the phone.

I heard a story that Judy Garland was asked if shethought Grace Kelly was a nymphomaniac, and her response was, “Maybe ifthey calmed her down.”

The following morning a reporter called onJack Kelly anticipating a euphoric reaction to his daughter’s award theprevious night. Jack replied, “I thought it would be Peggy. Anything Gracecould do, Peggy could always do better. I simply can’t believe Grace won. Ofthe four children, she’s the last one I’d expect to support me in my oldage.” dick dick dick dick dick.

After a brief engagement to designer OlegCassini and an abortion in Europe, Grace was engaged to be married to thediminutive prince of a cut-rate amusement park known as Monaco. Despite thefairy tale stories surrounding the wedding, this was a business deal, pure andsimple. For Grace, her need to become a wife and mother far outweighed theadvantages of an Oscar-winning movie star. She had tired of the grind as an MGMcontract player so much so that Marilyn Monroe sent engagement congratulationsthat read: “So glad you’ve found a way out of this business.” For PrinceRainier of Monaco, he was staring at the wrong side of 30 and needed a wife andheirs to continue his rein under the House of Grimaldi. He was also in such direstraits financially that he extracted a dowry of two million from Jack Kelly.But more importantly, Prince Rainier was under extreme pressure from theDirector of SBM – Aristotle Onassis. The Greek shipping tycoon controlled theSociete des Bains de Mer et Cercle des Etrangers, the Sea Bathing Society andForeigners’ Club, and was in charge of extracting the maximum profit fromtheir luxury hotel and casino in Monaco. Onassis complained to Greta Garbo thatthe resort was nothing if it didn’t have glamour. At first Marilyn Monroe wasconsidered, but she referred to the Prince as “Reindeer” and thought Monacowas in Africa. After meeting Grace during the Cannes film festival and acouple of dates in the states, the deal was sealed.

Two weeks after the official announcement oftheir engagement, the Los Angeles Herald Examiner published the first of aten-part series entitled “My Daughter Grace Kelly: Her Life andRomances” byMrs. John B. Kelly. Circulated to Hearst newspapers all across the country,Grace’s mother produced a stream of revelations regarding the men, ALL themen, in her life (no wonder it was a 10-part series). Even Prince Rainier wouldlater confide, “how could her own mother do that?” Bitch.

For the next 25 years Her Serene HighnessPrincess Grace of Monaco played the part, and played it very well. Shetransformed a crappy little resort town of less than one square mile in size inthe south of France into the Cote d’Azur cocktail of swank and style. She tookto her digs, and duringher rein she bore him two daughters and a son, Albert – future heir to thethrone. 

She also took on a host of new lovers including actor David Niven andOld Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra. Grace may not have believed in fidelity – after all,both the men she dated and her father (a notorious philanderer inhis day) considered monogamy to be an aberration. What Grace did believe in waslove. She fell in love easily and often.

On the morning of September, 13th1982, Grace and her youngest daughter were just ending a week long argument onwhether Stephanie was to attend the prestigious Institute of Fashion Design inParis or, as Stephanie would prefer, race-car driving school with her thenboyfriend Paul Belmondo. With a few more details to iron out, Grace suggested toher chauffeur that she drive alone with her daughter, the 35 minutes back toMonaco from their vacation residence Roc Agel. Ten minutes into their journeyheading down the narrow, winding CD 37 

as it led out of the village of LaTurbie, 

something wasn’t quite right with the brown Land Rover. 

The driver just behindthe Rover was Yves Philly.  He watched as the vehicle negotiated the sharp, hairpin turns as theyneared Cap d’ Ail when the car jerked back and forth with the side doorsscraping the mountain side. 

Yves thought, “Dear God… stop them. It’s suicide.”  He blasted his horn and the Rover straightened up for a moment.But as the car approached the nextcurve (known as the ‘Devil’s Curse’), 

it suddenly accelerated in excess of60 mph and flew over theedge, 

clipping the treetops as it bounced and rolleddown the steepembankment. 

There were no brake lights, no squeal of brakes.  The Rover struck a tree near the bottom and rolledonto a pile of rocks, crushing the passenger-side door and roof. With neitherpassenger wearing a seat belt, both Stephanie and Grace bounced around within theinterior resulting in severe injuries. Stephanie exited the vehicle sobbing andhysterical while Grace was pulled from the wreckage by the ambulance crew.

Contrary to legend, Grace did not take thedive, off the same road used in To Catch a Thief.  They areactually quite a distanceapart. The film location however, is still breathtaking.  

Just not her’s.

Taken from Iain Calder’s book – My 20 YearsRunning the National Enquirer – The Untold Story:

The car landed in the garden of a 64 yearold flower grower named Sesto Lequio.  He heard the accident (wtf?), ran tothe wreckage and pulled out Stephanie, and noticed the older woman open hereyes, say a few words, then close her eyes.  He had no idea who theywere.  The words, “Please tell them all I love them… my husband…Caroline… Stephanie… Albert.  Please take care of my baby Stephanie…she is badly hurt.”  He was alsoable to confirm that it was Gracebehind the wheel.

Grace was taken to a local hospital inMonaco for treatment.  Story is, had she been taken to an almost as closemedical center in Nice, they had better equipment, and she may have had a betterchance.  A leading neurosurgeon said that her treatment was”appalling”.  By the time doctors realized the extent of thebrain damage, she was in an irreversible coma.

A few days after the crash, the car wascrushed into a metal cube, taken out to sea, and dropped into the depths of theMediterranean.

This information comes directly from RobertLacy’s biography, GRACE:

On the 18th, Grace’s funeral was attended by the Kingand Queen of Belgium, the Queen of Spain, Prince Bertil of Sweden, Prince Philipof Liechtenstein, Madame Francois Mitterrand, Nancy Reagan (with more securitythan ANYone) and Diana thePrincess of Wales.  Sinatra was on tour, David Niven ill, but Cary Grantarrived to bring the right touch of Hollywood and the old days.

Grace looked (WARNING:dead pic) ghastlyin her coffin.  The wounds on her head had been concealed by a bizarreyellow wig.  Her girlfriends looked at it horrified, not knowing whether tolaugh or to cry, but afterward they decided that it had to be seen as the sortof joke that Gracie and her most giggly would have enjoyed.

Stephanie watched the funeral ontelevision, lying in the hospital with her neck in a brace.

Her hearse was quitecomfy.  Ask me how I know.  Yeah, it’s the one.  THE one.

She is buried in the very Cathedralin which she was married.

…and then there were four.

The years preceding and after the death ofPrincess Grace were not kind to the family:

Shortly after her marriage, John Brendan”Jack” Kelly died of cancer. In his arrogant, self-authored will, he wasworth a paltry $1.3 million (seems all those girlfriends and concubines on theside didn’t come cheap). Shortly after his death his hometown of Philadelphiaerected a prominent statue of Kelly near the finish line of the Schuylkill Rivercourse where he once rowed. It is located just off of the scenic “KellyDrive,” which is named for Kelly’s son Jack Jr.

After the death of Jack Kelly, Mother Kellymoved out of the Henry Avenue home and into the Tony Alden Park Towers aroundthe corner. In her spare time as the widow Kelly she supported her son’sopponent in the Philadelphia mayoral race. She suffered a stroke in 1975 and wasnever told of her daughter’s untimely death.

Sister Peggy was a spectacular drunk whoburned through two marriages before dying of alcoholism in 1991. Her secondhusband, Gene Conlan, was horribly disfigured in a near-fatal car crash duringtheir marriage together.

Brother Kell, a four-time Olympian and anOlympic medal winner left his wife and six children to shack up with RachelHarlow which is nothing spectacular except Ms. Harlow was actually the formerMr. Richard Finocchiowho was transformed into Rachel through a much publicizedsex-change (snip snip, tuck tuck) operation. A four-time Olympian and an Olympicmedal winner he died, oddly enough, at age 57 of a massive heart attack whilejogging near his father’s statue along the Schuylkill River.

Youngest sister Lizanne Kelly Levine is theonly living member of the original Kelly family and lived year round at theOcean City home up until the sale in 2002. Her daughter died of cancer in 1998and her husband in 2000. She is in failing health and lives in a retirementcommunity outside of Philadelphia. Her son Chris Levine and Prince Albert can beseen every year together hitting the party circuit at the Kentucky Derby.

After battling 3 years of ill health whichincluded coronary problems and lung infections, Rainier III, Prince of Monaco(Rainier Louis Henri Maxence Bertrand Grimaldi, Count of Polignac) passed awayat 6:35a.m. on April 6, 2005.  His (WARNING: dead pic) bodylay in state until burial, next to his beloved.  A favorite pastime ofGrimaldi was eating pizza and watching television in his underwear.  Heonce said, “Gossip was invented in Monaco.”

Princess Caroline (Caroline LouiseMarguerite), The Princess of Hanover, Hereditary Princess of Monaco, is theeldest child of Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Princess Grace. She marriedinvestment banker and playboy Phillipe Junot but divorced two years later in1980 due to infidelity on both sides and constant meddling of Prince Rainier.Three years later she married Italian businessman Stefano Casiraghi, howeverthat marriage ended when Casiraghi was competing in an off-shore powerboat raceand he lost control of his craft, was catapulted into the air, and diedinstantly when the boat came down on top of him. Her third and present husbandis Ernst August V, Prince of Hanover, the head of the House of Hanover with whomshe raises four children: Andrea, Charlotte, Pierre, and Alexandra. AndreaAlbert Pierre Casiraghi (born June 8, 1984) is the eldest child of HRH PrincessCaroline of Hanover and her second husband, Stefano Casiraghi and is currentlysecond in line to the throne after his mother.

Albert II, Prince of Monaco (AlbertAlexandre Louis Pierre Grimaldi; born March 14, 1958), His Serene Highness TheSovereign Prince of Monaco, is the head of the House of Grimaldi and the currentruler of the Principality of Monaco. He has two children born out of wedlock;Jazmin Grace Grimaldi and Alexandre Coste. Jazmin was born in Palm Springs,California to Tamara Rotolo, a tourist Albert hooked up with while sunbathing inMonaco. Alexandre was born in August 2003 in Paris to his former lover, NicoleCoste, a native of Togo in west Africa. There also was a slew of paternity suitsfiled during the 1990s, including one by topless model Bea Fiedler who exclaimedin court that the Prince used only his teeth to remove her panties during asteamy interlude in Munich.

Princess Stephanie has had quite a colorfullife since that moment when the Land Rover flew over the cliff. She was a failedfashion designer, a mediocre French pop star (remember “Ourangan?” Yeah, meneither), a sortie into the perfume trade, and a circus performer (no, really!).Her love life is on equal footing with her career choices including a convictedsex offender, a film star’s son convicted on a weapons possession charge, aformer body guard, and an affair with actor Rob Lowe (they broke up because Lowecouldn’t speak French).  Consequently,upon his death in 2005 Prince Rainier left a mere 1% of his estate to Stephanieand the remaining equally divided between Caroline and Albert.  Thisis her home.  

She does not suffer.

In the Hotel Bel-Air on Canyon Road in LA – there is a Grace Kelly Suite which was her exclusivesuite whenstaying there.  

For 2k a night, it should come with TheDeluxe Nancy ReaganBrentwood Hello.

Trivia:  The PrincessGrace Apartments in Hollywood, have always made me laugh. 

 Like shewould be caught dead there.  Well, apparently someone has been caught dead there. When it was called the Hollywood Hawaiian Hotel, a rocker hangout, JeremySpencer of Fleetwood Mac, disappeared for two years from this location in1971.  He joined a religious organization.  As you do.

More:  This is what Grace’ssignaturelooks like.

Story by Scott Stanton, Monaco photographsby Byron Marco, PA photographs by Nicky from Florida. Byron, thank you for my Gracesouvenir.  

I treasure it – and you guys.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *