She was born in 1929, the third of four children. Her father was an Olympic medalist in rowing and her mother a University department head in Physical education. Raised in a prestigious environment where nearly any career would be open for her, Grace dismayed her family by choosing to become an actress. She co-starred with James Stewart, William Holden, Cary Grant and Clark Gable among others and worked with directors John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock.
In 1955 she participated in a film shoot in Monaco and met Prince Rainier there. They corresponded privately and later that year, he came to America on a tour.
Prince Rainier was under pressure to marry because if he didn't produce an heir, Monaco would revert to France under the terms of a 1918 treaty. This would propel the residents of Monaco from a taxless principality into paying taxes as French citizens. When asked if his American tour were part of a search for a wife he replied, "No" but after three days and a meeting with Grace Kelly's family, he proposed. Along with her acceptance went a dowry of two million dollars. This was not a rags to riches marriage.
Grace Kelly arrived at the French Riviera with her entourage and eighty pieces of luggage aboard the liner SS Constitution. The palace in Monaco was completely redecorated for the wedding and the plans were elaborate.
Grace Kelly's last movie appeared the year of the wedding and in the movie, High Society, she showed off her stunning engagement ring.
The guests of the wedding included famous names and Hollywood stars. The title of Princess was only one of 142 titles Grace received with her marriage.
Grace and Rainier had a son and two daughters. Grace was busy with charities and public appearances but missed her acting career. Not only did Rainier insist she give up acting, but any movies she appeared in were not allowed to be shown in Monaco, in order to preserve the dignity of her position. But, in spite of a few problems and differences of opinion, the marriage appears to be mainly happy.
Grace died at the age of 52 while driving home from France with her daughter. Stephanie was only injured but Grace died as a result of the crash, likely caused by a stroke. The funeral was attended by royalty and movie stars.
Jimmy Stewart said in his eulogy "You know I just love Grace Kelly. Not because she was a princess, not because she was an actress, not because she was my friend, but because she was just about the nicest lady I ever met. Grace brought into my life as she brought into yours, a soft, warm light every time I saw her, and every time I saw her was a holiday of its own. No question I'll miss her, we'll all miss her. God bless you, Princess Grace."
Prince Rainier never remarried. He died in 2005 and is buried beside his wife.