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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Happy Birthday, Grace! [5 Things I Love]

I know... deja vu post title. Wasn't it exactly a week ago that I posted 5 things for Vivien's birthday? Yes and yes. But Grace Kelly is one of my favorite actresses, and I simply cannot ignore her birthday!

Especially since I feel quite guilty.... that I don't have a tribute video for her! At least, one in particular for her birthday. I made one for her a few months ago in those long forgotten, hunky dunky (did anyone get that reference? hm?) summer days, which will be at the end of this post. I just didn't have the time to get around to doing it, and it's hard to do tribute videos for Grace simply for the lack of footage. She did only make like five movies after all.

I also feel guilty because I feel like I've neglected her a whole lot in the past four or so months of writing this blog. My Grace tag isn't very big, and I adore her so much. But I want to make up for it, right now, on this lovely lady's birthday. I present to you the five things I love about her the most (and yes, it was so hard to narrow it down to five).

"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."
- Jimmy Stewart's eulogy at Grace's memorial service, 1982


#5: I relate to her.
Okay, that may be a strange, somewhat pompous way to put it: "I relate to Grace Kelly!" Let me explain a little. I've read two or three books on Grace, and when reading I enjoyed the little things that I noticed I had in common with her... She wasn't very athletic, no matter how hard she tried (and despite the fact that her father was an Olympian - very much the "maverick" type - and the rest of her family followed suit), with the exception, I believe, of swimming. In her high school yearbook she listed Ingrid Bergman as her favorite actress. She attended a private school, and.... I quote, from the book Touch of Grace: "Grace and her northern roots preferred the cold. Monaco's semi-tropical weather never agreed with her." (!!!)

"I get a dull feeling when it's hot and sunny. I feel tired. I don't want to do anything. I usually stay in the house when the sun is out. At night I take walks."
- Grace

#4: She WAS a wonderful actress.
People often argue that whereas Grace was a pretty princess, a fashion plate, and a lovely lady, that she couldn't really act. I beg to differ! Grace could act, and from what I read she climbed up the Hollywood chain just like everyone else. She wasn't automatically in the door because of her good looks, she earned it and was an excellent actress. Among the different complaints about Grace I've heard is, "she's the same in every movie." I understand that she did play similar characters, but perhaps that simply makes her another victim of typecasting - and I must admit, I really liked the characters she played anyway. The other big argument is that Judy Garland should have won the Oscar in 1955 and not Grace. I haven't seen "A Star is Born" (I do plan to remedy that soon), so it wouldn't be fair for me to pick sides on this one, but I do think Grace shone in "The Country Girl", and broke the usual mold of her characters for sure.

with her "The Country Girl" Oscar

#3: She was Hollywood's princess.
Literally, of course. I do wish that her marriage in 1956 to Prince Rainier of Monaco would not have ended her movie career, leaving us with only a few of her movies. But I once remember reading a quote that Grace really was a princess even before she officially became one: in her elegance, class, and appropriately, grace. After leaving Hollywood, being Princess of Monaco became her job, I suppose, and she was good at it. I remember reading she struggled in her new surroundings at first, sometimes longed to return to Hollywood (Hitchcock tempted her with the Tippi Hendrin role in "Marnie", but Monaco did not want to see their princess romancing Sean Connery), but she managed and she was magnificent. Plus, wasn't her wedding gown and her royal wedding gorgeous? You can watch the wedding here.

#2: She was one of the most fashionable people, ever.
I don't really think this is news to anyone, but let's face it: she is! She was always impeccably dressed and she is for sure one of my most favorite style icons ever. I swear, everytime I see a photo of her, whether it is on screen or off, I get jealous of what she is wearing. I cannot even pick a favorite outfit of hers. The blue gown from "To Catch a Thief"? The taffeta black and white dress she wore to cheer up Jimmy in "Rear Window"? The glittering grey gown or baby blue day dress from "High Society"? She could be casually chic or smartly dressed, too. And lest we not forget that gorgeous wedding gown pictured in #3. Like I said, it is simply impossible to pick a favorite outfit, and she was chic and elegant down to the last detail: the pearls on the neck, the handbag on her arm, the earrings in her lobes, etc. Her style seemed to have been very simple and always come across as effortless. She was so easily chic and I really j'adore about every single thing that Grace ever wore.
Did you know? Hermes named a bag of theirs after her- "The Kelly Bag". It got its title after Grace used the large, fashionable purse to cover up her growing stomach due to her pregnancy from the paparazzi.

#1: She was simply a nice person.
And she really was. On screen she seemed to emulate the ice goddess qualities; very fire and ice. But off screen everyone who knew her said her personality was in sharp contrast: Grace was loving and warm, and one of the nicest persons, as Jimmy Stewart put it. Many a lovely story I've read about Grace. About how she was completely anti racist: when the singer Josephine Baker tried to treat her friends to a night at the Stork Club in the 1950's, they were denied a table because of their skin color. Grace was at the Stork Club that night. She shot up from her table, took Josephine by the arm, and stormed out of the club, vowing to never return again  - she never did. Not only that, she and Josephine became excellent friends and Grace supported Josephine financially as well in later years. Fast forwarding to the year 1981, Grace met the Prince of Wales and his shy new fiance, Lady Diana, at one of the first events attended by the new couple. Diana arrived in a too tight black dress that showed too much cleavage. Grace sensed Diana's discomfort; in the washroom Diana burst into tears in front of Grace and the whole situation in which Grace hugged and comforted the soon-to-be princess. (Irony that they would both die in a car crash?). Most of Grace's co-stars made friends with her: William Holden and Clark Gable fell in love with her, Ava Gardner brought out the rebel in her (Ava was also invited to the royal wedding), and Cary Grant remembered her as his favorite co-star. From the pictures she may seem intimidating, but I feel that it would have been amazing to be friends with someone so understanding, sweet, and unprejudiced.

This was the tribute video I made a while back. I'm sorry to be "recycling" it, but I hope you'll like it all the while. The piece is "Clair de Lune" by Debussy, which was Grace's favorite as a child. I, too, really adore the music. Slightly irrelevant, but Spencer Tracy played it on the piano in "Without Love", remember? It's a beautiful piece and fits Grace and her loveliness.

Happy Birthday, Grace. 

That's all for today: try and squeeze a little Grace into your day! 

See you at the Sunday Movie Review, dear readers. 

PS: Did you hear about that idiot Jeopardy contestant who didn't know Joan Fontaine existed, non the less was Olivia's sister? some people... geesh... 


Elisa said...

Happy Birthday Grace! Nice post and thanks for following. Awesome blog here btw, it's great seeing teens into the good stuff (I sound like an old person, lol) not many do these days, most think anything in Black and White is boring. Their loss I guess!

Sofia said...

Oh really nice post, I learned a ton of little things and episodes that I did not know about her! And now I have a good argument when defending cold weather, haha. I think one of the most alluring things about her was the way she had such a strong presence, and seem, perhaps, like you said, intimidating, but at the same time sound like such a sweet, loving person.

Anonymous said...

Rianna a wonderful tribute here to one of the very best there was . Have read so much about her , but as usual your blog threw up something new , something interesting, something wonderful. May you always be blessed with Amazing Grace . Keep writing And I will keep reading , I dont know why I chose to use the words amazing grace , they somehow seem to fit the wonderful human being Grace Kelly was , it suits you and your blog to a T . Strangely right now , I remember the gospel song Amazing Grace am not religious but I love it , it gives me strength and hope you may enjoy listening to it . Here is a link fond regards Jyoti Kalapa

Mommy said...

To my darling daughter,

What a lovely post. I can't believe how lovely lady you are turning out to be. I admire you my love. You know I came to know about this blog when my friend Jyoti posted your link on her wall with a beautiful comment.

I know when you get back from your car wash fund raising rally from school you will get to read all the beautiful comments. For now I just can't get over the fact you went to the car wash in denim blue 7 for Mankind jegging, White Burberry gumboots and a blood red pea-coat. Yes, the beautiful plaid shirt does give away a bit of your weekend outfit. How elegant and graceful you look....Muaaahhhhhhhh!

Love you,


Mommy said...


Rianna was so mad that AMC (here in USA) didn't show Grace Kelly movies yesterday or even today as tribute to her. I am mad too as I would love to spend my beautiful Sunday watching her movies.

I love how you support Rianna and her writings. It is so hard for her to find friends of her age to understand and share her love for the Classics.


Carmen said...

Rianna, I loved this post. I agree on everything. Grace must have been an amazing person. For me, it's a shame she couldn't continue making movies after she married Prince Rainier. This may sound strange, but poor Hitchcock. All his "favorite blonds" went away. Ingrid with Rossellini, Grace with Rainier... haha. I loved the story with Josephine Baker. That proves what a human being she must have been.
And I agree, it's impossible to choose a favorite outfit. Oh, and I also think it's absolutely not truth that she couldn't act. She was very good, and maybe she was typecasted, but that doesn't say anything to me.

Rianna said...

Elisa- Thanks for following me, and I'm glad you liked the post! Yeah, their loss. Some kids my age act as if black and white will burn their eyes or something!

Sofia- Thank you! I agree, the most endearing thing about her was her silent yet dominating presence all the while being sweet and kind. She's one of the people I most admire for those reasons.

Anon - Thank you, Jyoti aunty. I have heard the song, last year in school we watched a movie that was about the origin of it's song and the meaning behind it. :) It definitely fits Grace Kelly and I'm honored you think it applies to me. I really love and appreciate that you take the time to read this blog so often and leave such beautiful comments! It does mean a lot to me and I'm so happy you enjoy this blog.

Mommy- Thank you thank you thank you. :) Love you! <3

Carmen - I know, poor Hitchcock! I thought the same thing, his favorite blonds left him and I think he was always trying to replace them: Tippi Hendrin, Kim Novak, even Doris Day, but he never could. I agree with you, a shame she could not make more movies, and I think what she did with Josephine was incredible especially considering the time period. Though through a lot of the reading I've done I'm happy to discover that much of Classic Hollywood was unprejudiced. I'm so happy you enjoyed this post!

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