Monaco on the French Riviera is a one square mile major banking and (perhaps not ironically) gambling center of nearly 36,00 residents. Monaco boasts the planet's highest GDP, life expectancy, real estate prices, number of millionaires and billionaires per capita--and there's no income taxes.
But in the 1950s, Monaco was in decline with a reputation for being a ‘sunny place for shady people’—until Grace Kelly retired at age 26 from a six-year acting career to marry Prince Rainier--returning Monaco to fairytale status by becoming its real-life Princess.
She'd starred with Clark Gable in Mogambo, won an Oscar for her role alongside Bing Crosby in The Country Girl, played opposite Gary Cooper in High Noon, with Ray Milland in Dial M for Murder, as James Stewart’s co-star in Rear Window--with Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief—filmed in Monaco--and was a princess in The Swan.
Grace met Prince Rainier while in Cannes for the film festival before heading back to the U.S. to make 'High Society'...he came to America to meet her family...and The Wedding of the Century was on.
Kelly, with family, bridesmaids, friends, dogs, over 80-pieces of luggage, and an army of press reporters--boarded the SS Constitution and departed New York Harbor on April 4th, 1956 for the week-long voyage to the French Riviera. In Monaco--tens of thousands including hundreds of International press lined the streets to greet the future princess. Amazing reception: here
Hollywood stars numbered among the 600-guests in attendance --while 30-million people watched the April 19th nuptials on TV.
Princess Grace proved a boon for Monaco….organizing and overseeing numerous charities, arts organizations and events while raising three children. There was some marital strain but the couple celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in 1981--vibrantly happy together.
On September 13, 1982, while driving with her younger daughter, Stéphanie, back to Monaco from their country home--Grace suffered a stroke and lost control of her Rover that plunged 100’ down a mountainside. She died the next day at age 52. Prince Rainier never re-married.
Grace’s father hadn't expected much from the third of his four children. Like their father, her three siblings were aggressively outgoing and competitive while Grace was quietly determined and disciplined—including in developing her singular presence and voice.
Through sheer will and strategic smarts--she made a life that outdid any storybook role. Her own personal grace was alchemic—turning everything she touched to magic--captured in her hit single 'True Love' made just before her marriage: here.