“She’s too perfect,” complained movie star Jimmy Stewart. “She’s too talented, too beautiful, too sophisticated …”
Persimmon eyes and cherry lips, creamy skin. Grace Kelly looks like a dream, and her life, a sunset scene:
Once upon a time, in Philadelphia, a little girl announces: “One day I’m going to be a princess.” Her siblings ignore her.
Third child of four, she is the first to leave home for New York. Photographer’s model, Broadway, Silver screen… Alfred Hitchcock! One, two, three, eleven films! Academy Award! Then, swept off her feet, to marry Prince Rainer of Monaco.
The story of Princess Grace is almost mythical. Her very name is that of three goddesses of Ancient Greece: Beauty, Delight, and Goodness. Too perfect, and
Not true. Her story, real story, is one of love, discipline, grit, and yes, grace. Let’s start over:
Once upon a time, in Philadelphia, a little girl is shy, unathletic, near-sighted. Her jaw is too square, her waist too thin, she is told. Her voice, too high and flat; she has sinus problems. And asthma. And a dream that appalls her father:
An actress is just “a slim cut above streetwalker.”
Still, Grace goes to New York. She pays her own tuition at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts by doing commercials. She sells cigarettes, soap… anything. She goes to auditions in her convent schoolgirl’s clothes: low heels, white gloves, no makeup. Her mother disapproved of frivolity. Still, she looks regal.
Back straight, shoulders back. She seems to glide, not walk. She lowers her voice, perfects her diction, stops hiding her jaw. Aces her classes. Lands her first film role: two minutes and fourteen seconds in some background…
“A snow-covered volcano!”
“This dame has breeding, quality and class!”
All that had been flaw was now quality. Grace Patricia Kelly did not change; she became Grace. She was hardworking, professional, funny. Kind. “Beauty, delight, and goodness.” As an actress, princess, consort, mother, humanitarian.
She was not perfect. Neither was her life, but it was one she chose and built: “I’m going to be a princess.”