Friday, May 20, 2016

The Genealogical Story Of Princess Grace Kelly

Kelly is the Gaelic form O'Ceallaigh, and is the most common surname in Ireland.

Brian Kelly
b. 1805 in Ireland d. 1889 in Ireland


Honora Margaret Mclaughlin
b. 1821 d. May 1st, 1884

Had three children.

John Henry Kelly
b. Jul 29th, 1848 in Ireland d. Feb 24th, 1917 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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married for forty-seven years on June 20th, 1870 to

Mary Ann Costello
b. Oct 18th, 1852 d. Sep 21st, 1926
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Had 10 children: Patrick (1871-1937), Walter (1873-1939), Annie (1875-1937), John (1877-1888), Charles (1879-1957), Mary (1882-1962), Elisabeth (1885-1921), George (1887-1974), John (1889-1960), Grace (1893-1917).

John Brenden Kelly
b. Oct 4th, 1889 d. Jun 20th, 1960
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married on January 30th, 1924 for thirty-six years to

Margaret Katherine Majer
b. Dec 13th, 1898 d. Jan 6th, 1990
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Had four children: Margaret Katherine (1925–1991), John Brendan Jr. (1927–1985), Grace Patricia (1929–1982) and Elizabeth Anne (1933–2009).

The Kelly's

Grace Kelly was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to John Brendan "Jack" Kelly, and his wife, Margaret Katherine Majer. The newborn was named after her father's sister, who had died at a young age. She was raised Catholic, and was of Irish and German descent. Before her marriage, Majer studied physical education at Temple University and later became the first woman to head the Physical Education Department at the University of Pennsylvania.

Jack Kelly was a local hero as a triple Olympic-gold-medal-winning sculler, and became affluent as his construction company became the largest such enterprise on the East Coast. Registering as a Democrat, he obtained the party's nomination for mayor in the 1935 election and lost by the closest margin for any Democrat in the city's history.

In later years, he served on the Fairmount Park Commission and, during World War II, was appointed by President Roosevelt as National Director of Physical Fitness.

Grace Patricia Kelly
b. Nov 12th, 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania d. Sep 14th, 1982 in Monaco

married for twenty-six years on Apr 19th, 1956 to

Ranier III, Prince of Monaco
b. May 31st, 1923 d. Apr 6th, 2005

Had three children: Caroline (1957-), Albert (1958-) and Stephanie (1965-).

Grace Kelly as a baby in 1929.

Early Life

Actress and Princess Consort of Monaco Grace Patricia Kelly was born on November 12, 1929, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her father, John Brendan "Jack" Kelly, was a champion sculler who won three Olympic gold medals as part of the U.S. rowing team. A self-made millionaire, he owned one of the most successful brick businesses on the East Coast. Her mother, Margaret Katherine Majer, was the first coach of women's athletic teams at the University of Pennsylvania. Kelly was the third of four children and was named after her father's sister, who died at a very young age.

Kelly expressed a deep love of performance at a young age. In addition to participating in school plays and community productions, she occasionally modeled with her mother and sister. While attending Stevens School, a small private high school in Philadelphia, she continued to dream about acting. The arts held a prominent place in the Kelly family. Her uncles Walter C. Kelly, a vaudevillian performer, and George Kelly, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, both had a huge affect on her. It was George who later encouraged his niece to pursue a full-time acting career, mentoring her through her rise in Hollywood.

After high school, Kelly decided to pursue an acting career in New York City despite her parents' objections. According to Kellys close friend Judith Balaban Quine, Jack Kelly thought that acting was "a slim cut above streetwalker." Despite this, Kelly enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. As a student, she modeled part-time and appeared in ads for Old Gold cigarettes and on the covers of magazines like Cosmopolitan and Redbook. Her final performance at the Academy was in A Philadelphia Story. Years later she would reprise her role in High Society (1956), a musical adaptation on the big screen.

After graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York at age 19, Kelly sought a career on Broadway, but she found it tough going. Don Richardson, one of her directors and teachers later said, "She would never have had a career in the theater," because she had "great looks and style, yes, but no vocal horsepower."

Whether or not that assessment was correct, Kelly soon found that film was more amenable to her talents. In the years just following World War II, the film and television industries were both booming, and Kelly soon moved to Hollywood. She would eventually feature in 11 films and star in over 60 television productions.

Grace Kelly with her mom and siblings. Circa 1930's.

Grace Kelly with her mom, dad and siblings. Circa 1930's.

First Hollywood Film

Gary Cooper discovered Grace Kelly on the set of her first film, Fourteen Hours (1951), when she was 22 years old. He arranged for her to play his very young wife in High Noon (1952), an acclaimed Western that put her on the path to stardom. A year later, Kelly was offered a role in Mogambo (1953), a film set in Kenya, starring Clark Gable and Ava Gardner. While filming Mogambo, Kelly had an affair with Gable. Later she said, "What else is there to do if you're alone in a tent in Africa with Clark Gable?" Mogambo marked a turning point in Kelly's career: She was nominated for her first Academy Award and won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress. MGM offered her a seven-year contract, which she accepted on the condition that she live in Manhattan every other year so that she could pursue stage work.

Kelly turned down the role of Edie Doyle in On the Waterfront (opposite Marlon Brando) so that she could work with her soon-to-be friend and mentor Alfred Hitchcock. In the 1950s, Kelly made three films with the legendary master of suspense: Rear Window (1954), Dial M for Murder (1954) and To Catch a Thief (1955). Hitchcock considered Kelly the epitome of the femme fatale: She had beauty, style and "sexual elegance." Jimmy Stewart, her co-star in Rear Window, said, "She's too perfect… She's too talented. She's too beautiful. She's too sophisticated. She's too everything but what I want."

In 1954, Kelly won the role of Georgie Elgin in The Country Girl opposite Bing Crosby and William Holden. It was not a glamorous role for Kelly, who portrayed the dowdy and neglected wife of an alcoholic. She gave a raw and uncharacteristically stripped-down performance, which garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. This time she won, beating Judy Garland in A Star Is Born (1954) to claim the Academy Award.

Grace Kelly's engagement to Ranier III, Prince of Monaco. Circa 1956.
The Kelly's had to pay a $2 million dowry for the wedding.

Grace Kelly and Ranier III, Prince of Monaco's wedding on April 19th, 1956.

Becoming a Princess

At this point in her career, Kelly was one of the highest paid and most respected actresses in the world. In 1955, she was asked to join the United States Delegation Committee at the Cannes Film Festival in France. During a photo shoot, she met Prince Rainier III of Monaco, who happened to be seeking a bride. If he didn't produce an heir, Monaco would become part of France. The prince once described his ideal bride: "I see her with long hair floating in the wind, the color of autumn leaves. Her eyes are blue or violet, with flecks of gold." The press glamorized their courtship, depicting it as a fairytale romance. A year later, their wedding date was set.

After marrying Prince Rainier on April 19, 1956, in a very public and ornate ceremony, Kelly abandoned her acting career in order to become Princess Consort of Monaco. She was also required to give up her American citizenship, and Prince Rainier banned her films in Monaco.

The royal couple had three children: Princess Caroline, Prince Albert, and Princess Stéphanie. Despite many attempts by filmmakers to lure Princess Grace back into the film industry, she resisted, embracing her role as a ceremonial leader of Monaco. She became very involved in many cultural and charitable organizations over the course of her life. Though some believe she deeply missed her acting career, she often spoke of the rampant problems afflicting the film industry: "Hollywood amuses me. Holier-than-thou for the public and unholier-than-the-devil in reality."

The Grimaldi Family. Circa 1967.

The last interview. June 22nd, 1982.


Tragedy struck on September 14, 1982, when Princess Grace and her younger daughter was driving along the steep cliffs of the Côte d'Azur region of southern France. She suffered a stroke and lost control of the vehicle, which spun off the cliff's edge and plunged down a 45-foot embankment. Mother and daughter were rushed to a hospital where Princess Grace spent 24 hours in a coma before passing away at the age of 52. Princess Stéphanie survived with minor injuries.

Grace Kelly remained in the public eye for most of her life. Her on-screen beauty, self-confidence and mystery enchanted the world, and her serenity and poise as Princess Consort piqued the media's attention. Of this attention, she remarked with typical humor and grace, "The freedom of the press works in such a way that there is not much freedom from it."

Hope you enjoyed the story of the lovely Grace Kelly,

Kiki Nakita

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Mary Beth Wolf Hitt said...

Nice job! The Kellys owned a summer home in Ocean City, NJ, and spent much of every summer there. The home was still there and occupied by a family member when my family vacationed there in the 1990s.

Anne's Attic - Design said...

I loved your post! Thank you for sharing Grace at SYC! :) Jo

Decor To Adore said...

Grace Kelly is one of my favorite inspiring women. So lovely and truly such grace. Thank you for so faithfully joining us at Thoughts of Home on Thursday. You are a treasured blogging friend.

Lisa said...

This is a lovely post! She was such a rare beauty.

Jemma@athomewithjemma said...

Grace Kelly was truly a beautiful, inspiring and graceful Lady and was well loved by many.
We all appreciate you sharing this post and your time with us at TOHOT.

Mimi said...

I have always adored Grace Kelly and considered myself a keen student of the history of her family, but you've mentioned some facts that even I did not know. What a beautiful and gracious woman she was. I would love you to share this at my Five Star Frou-Frou linkup at A Tray of Bliss. Will you? Mimi xxx

Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson said...

So interesting! I wondered if you were referring to that fabulous actress, Grace Kelly. Those old films are classic! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

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