The exquisite Grace Kelly.

 

Fans of Grace Kelly (and I am one of them, believe it or not) are probably going to jump up and down if they read this, and accuse me of ‘muck-raking’ or, at best, sensationalising her track record (or should I say ‘sack’ record) with members of the opposite sex. Be that as it may, there is a plethora of sources to draw from when it comes to Grace and her penchant for bedding men, usually much older than her, whom she felt might help her career. There has never been a dearth of ‘man-eaters’ in the movie industry, just as there has never been a shortage of lecherous men more than willing to accommodate them. Grace was just a more refined version of Dietrich, Bankhead, Turner, Crawford, Monroe, and any number of others. The fact that she looked so wholesome, that she wed a prince and that she carried herself with dignity when she represented Monaco, did not belie her record for sleeping around. Perhaps, Clara Bow summed up the situation best. ‘It’s been 20 years since the trial that broke my heart’, she once said. ‘If it happened today, I’d still be a whore. Grace Kelly, however, will get away with having many lovers. Know why? The damn public will never believe it!’ And despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, many fans still do not believe ill of her.

Young Grace in the early fifties

In 1947, in New York City, 18 year-old model and aspiring actress Grace was sleeping with 27 year-old drama teacher Don Richardson. He was married but separated. ’She screwed everybody she came into contact with who was able to do anything good for her,’ he recalled. One evening she returned from a date she had with Prince Aly Khan, sporting an emerald bracelet, the prince’s standard gift to the women he bedded. Richardson knew this and walked out. Soon after that Grace bedded the Shah of Iran as well. Even before she left Philadelphia for The Big Apple she deliberately seduced her best friend’s husband simply for experience.

Gene Lyons

After her drama teacher came the older (also married) actor Gene Lyons, who ‘guested’ on over 70 television shows late in his career and, consequently, knew a lot of influential people in the industry. Grace was with him for a while and he was crazy about her. But he was also a drunk. She ended their relationship when he started making plans to annul his marriage. The lady had bigger fish to fry, and they did not include hitching herself to a drunken television actor, connections or no connections.

Clara Bow and Gary Cooper

While making High Noon in 1952 Grace slept with her leading man Gary Cooper. He was married to Rocky Cooper at the time and deeply involved in a tempestuous relationship with actress Patricia Neal. He also managed to find time to seduce Prince Rainier’s girlfriend Gisele Pascal. Coops was a busy guy for a man in his 50s. His former girlfriend Clara Bow rather indelicately told friends that he had ‘the biggest cock in Hollywood…He’s hung like a horse and can go all night.’ Even so, he was generally considered to be a very shy man. For the record, Grace slept with the director of High Noon, Fred Zinnemann as well.

Coops and Grace in High Noon

Director Fred Zinnemann

The next lucky player in the ‘Who wants to sleep with Grace?’ stakes was Clark Gable, another aging star. On location in Kenya making Mogambo in 1953, she regularly warmed his pup tent bed, some say because she reminded him of his dead wife Carole Lombard. Carole used to call him ‘Pa’. Grace called him ‘Ba’. At the completion of filming, she and co-star Ava Gardner visited a few brothels in Rome for kicks! According to Ava, Grace went off to a nearby hotel with a bordello waiter, booked a room and spent three days behind closed doors in their room.

Gable and Grace in Mogambo

Writer Wendy Leigh in True Grace: the Story of an American Princess, stated that the future Princess of Monaco and John F Kennedy had a torrid affair in the early fifties, one that Jackie Kennedy knew nothing about until she and Jack were watching Grace’s wedding to Prince Rainier on TV years later, when Jack suddenly blurted out, ‘I could have married her!’ Back in 1954, Jackie had arranged a prank involving Grace. Unaware the actress and Jack ‘knew’ one another, Jackie had her dress as a nurse and visit him in his hospital ward where he was recovering from a back operation. Rumour has it that Grace managed to ‘relieve’ the incapacitated future President of the United States once they were alone – for old time’s sake.

An interesting shot of Grace and JFK

While making Dial ‘M’ For Murder in 1954 she slept with the very married Ray Milland. It seems they both fell head over heels for one another. But once Hedda Hopper began referring to Grace (in print) as a ‘home-wrecker’ and a ‘nymphomaniac’, and once Milland’s wife of several decades made it very clear to her husband just how much a divorce would cost him, their ardour cooled and the love-struck pair went their separate ways.

 

 

With Ray Milland in Dial ‘M’ for Murder

That same year she made The Bridges at Toko-Ri with William Holden who was also married, and had been (to actress Brenda Marshall) for years. He was also on the rebound from Audrey Hepburn. Audrey wanted children, so when Holden told her about his vasectomy she reluctantly called it a day and trotted off to marry Mel Ferrer. Grace was still hot for Milland, but that scarcely slowed her down. She nailed the highly vulnerable Holden as well.

With Bill Holden in The Bridges at Toko-Ri

Fifty-one year old Bing Crosby was engaged to marry Kathryn Grant in 1954 when he co-starred with Grace in The Country Girl. Bizarrely, Bill Holden was also in the movie, but by then Grace was more interested in bedding ‘the Bingo’. She duly did so, right up until the night she picked up her Oscar for The Country Girl. That evening she jilted him in order to rendezvous with Marlon Brando. Bing came looking for her and found a naked Brando in her bed. It took the old crooner about three years to get over it and eventually marry the very patient Miss Grant. In truth, he delayed their marriage for two years because of his infatuation with Grace. Besides, he was also heavily involved with Swedish actress Inger Stevens, (following their film Man on Fire (1957)), who fully expected him to pop the question to her at any moment. She first learned of his elopement with Grant while watching TV and was devastated.

Holden, Grace & Crosby in The Country Girl

At the same time Grace was bedding some of these gentlemen (1954), she became engaged to fashion designer Oleg Cassini who was 16 years her senior. She seemed keen enough to marry the guy, but her parents were dead against the idea, especially when they learned that he was twice divorced and had fathered a mentally handicapped child. They ordered their now famous daughter to ditch him. And she did. Maybe it wasn’t really true love after all.

With Oleg Cassini, her fiancee (briefly)

Spencer Tracy would only agree to promote his latest film, Bad Day at Black Rock, if MGM could set him up with a dinner date with Grace. Like most everyone else in Hollywood he knew of her penchant for older men. At 55 and white-haired, Spence fit the category she preferred handsomely. They duly arranged a date and, according to Joseph Mankiewicz, Tracy bedded her a few times before nipping over to Venice to be with his regular girlfriend Kate Hepburn who was making a film there. Kate, of course, knew all about the fling and was unimpressed.

Dinner with Spencer Tracy

French actor Jean-Pierre Aumont was next, but when photographs of he and Grace began appearing in continental newspapers and magazines, she convinced herself that he was deliberately promoting their relationship to boost his career. In all probability he was. Exit Jean-Pierre. Frank Sinatra was another lover. He and Crosby starred with her in High Society (1956). Her new fiancee, Prince Rainier of Monaco, visited the set during filming, unaware his betrothed had bedded both her co-stars. Insiders claim she seduced writers, producers, cameramen, even lowly key-grips, if doing so helped her get ahead in the fame business. Any wonder that she eventually went for the ultimate fame booster – a real live Prince.

Bing, Grace & Frank in High Society

David Niven and Grace

Her affair with Sinatra ceased, albeit briefly, when she wed Prince Rainier in 1956. She soon renewed it, however, and they continued to meet for three more years at their love-nest at Cape Ferrat. Brando also made an occasional reappearance in her bed as did (allegedly) Tony Curtis and American tennis star Sidney Wood. Around this time she had a brief fling with the married David Niven as well. Her husband was a serial philanderer, as Grace well knew, but she also knew that he would never forgive her affairs. So they led separate sex lives, each feigning ignorance (or indifference) to the other’s dalliances. She was known to pick up businessmen while traveling aboard the Concorde to and from New York City, and did so for the rest of her life. It all came to a very sad end in 1982 when a car crash in Monaco claimed her life at the age of 52.

With Hitch

Grace Kelly only made eleven films, but most of them are memorable chiefly because she adorns them. There have been countless movie stars with beautiful faces down the years, but few can compare to the exquisite physical beauty she projected on the screen. The fact was, the stunning Miss Kelly was the embodiment of what many men considered to be the ultimate woman of their dreams. She looked for all the world like an innocent angel – and behaved like a tramp! Alfred Hitchcock recognized that quality instantly and utilized it in no fewer than three of her best films, Dial ‘M’ for Murder, Rear Window and To Catch a Thief.

10 Comments on The exquisite Grace Kelly.

  1. Thank you for your reply Alan.

    Just one interesting point, Grace didn’t actually wreck any marriages, the men she is alleged to have had affairs with, Milland, Holden, etc. all stayed with their wives.

    Let’s be careful here as well not to get into an old fashioned male double-standard, labeling the woman as a marriage wrecker, when the men would have been equally as guilty; from all the sources that I’ve read, Milland and Holden were alleged to have been serial cheaters, Holden particularly, in fact I do believe that the lovely Brenda Marshall (who starred in one of my favourite old films, The Sea Hawk) eventually split with Holden because of his other women, so HE wrecked his marriage.

    I first learned about Grace Kelly in the late 1960’s when I was just a boy. I didn’t really become interested in her until 30 years later, in the late 1990’s when I realised that she was similar in some ways to a girl I had once loved, but who, sadly, hadn’t loved me.

    From about 2004, I read everything I could about Grace, and in 2006 and 2008 I visited Monaco and the parts of the French Riviera where she made To Catch a Thief, I visited Philadelphia to see her family home at 3901 Henry Avenue.

    While, as I said in my earlier comment, I am a realist and am sure that she did have a healthy sexual appetite, I am careful not to believe every little thing I’ve read about her, because for a start, these things all happened between three and six decades ago, you and I weren’t there, and there are not many people left alive now to verify them.

    • Fair enough,David. I don’t care much for cheats of either sex and Holden, Milland and Cooper (to name but three) certainly did plenty of that. Holden and Brenda Marshall had an ‘open’ marriage for ages. In fact, he often brought his girlfriends home to meet her! She said this never bothered her until he brought Audrey Hepburn around. She was different because she was a definite threat to the marriage, and Brenda genuinely feared he would divorce her and marry Audrey. However, Audrey wanted a family and Holden had lied to her about having had a vasectomy. She ended their relationship as soon as he told her. All this is documented. You are quite right, of course. Grace did not single-handedly wreck marriages, but the Milland romance was a near run thing. I just do not think it would have worried her if she had. Anyway, Milland’s wife threatened to take him to the cleaners if he did not give Grace up. So he did. Incidentally, it is well-known that Grace and Rainier had a similar understanding as Holden and Marshall. He had many lovers and so did she. Indeed, she confided in friends that she could not bring herself to chastise her daughters’ about taking lovers because she had done so herself for much of her life. Personally, I think Rainier must have been nuts to cheat on her.

      • Thanks for your comment Alan. Hollywood life was quite decadent in a lot of ways; I suppose it was in part because actors and actresses had the sort of money that enabled them to have a hedonistic lifestyle that most ordinary people could not afford.

        I too have heard the stories about Rainier cheating on Grace. If he did, then he was a waster. He got himself one of the most beautiful and glamorous women in the world, and she wasn’t enough to keep him happy. If I’d had a woman like Grace, I would have loved her to death and never looked at another woman, but then we are all different.

        I uploaded a video to You Tube a couple of years ago, “You’re Sensational, My tribute to Grace Kelly”, because I have always regarded that Frank Sinatra/Cole porter song from High Society as Grace’s unofficial theme tune.

        I will visit your site regularly, because some of the stuff on it looks quite interesting. It seems we both admire Grace, and have an interest in old movies and film stars.

  2. I’m a big fan of Grace Kelly, I have been since the late 1990’s. The fact is, it is hard to verify all of the stories about her. I have read a number of books and scores of online articles about her, and some of them give conflicting versions of the same events, if they ever were events. She is supposed to have been crazy about Ray Milland, but one friend of hers said that she was never really interested in him. Re-the Bing Crosby story, I have read a completely different version of the one you’ve given above, which is that she threatened suicide after Crosby refused to marry her and that she even told him that she would sue him for Breach of Promise! Just goes to show how hard it is to get to the truth.

    And the Marlon Brando story, where did that originate from for goodness’sake? Where is the evidence? How on Earth would Bing Crosby have found her in bed with him? Did he bust his way into an hotel room they had booked, into her apartment, or into Brando’s home? Think about it, it just doesn’t sound tenable.

    So you actually don’t know if “…every word is true.”

    There is probably some element of truth in some of the tales about her; she probably did have liaisons with various men, but as far as I’m personally concerned, so what? My view is that humans are warm-blooded animals, who like all other animals, have a strong urge to mate and reproduce; the vast majority of us just like sex. Why shouldn’t Grace have liked it?

    Whatever her sex life was like, I think that she was the most beautiful, glamorous and elegant actress of 1950’s American cinema. As for her acting, I think she was a good actress, though not a great one. I love her performances in her golden trio of Alfred Hitchcock films, and I thought that she earned her Oscar for The Country Girl, even though it’s not my favourite film of hers.

    • Thank you for your comments, David. I am not into judging Grace or anyone else, although her penchant for married men I find disappointing. Enjoying sex is one thing, but wrecking marriages is something else. There are literally scores of sources that verify the Ray Milland romance, and he was about as married as it gets. Cooper was married too, although he was cheating on ‘Rocky’ all the time (with Patricia Neale and plenty of others). I do not write ANYTHING without examining as many sources as I can. Then, like any historian, I must assess and analyze what I believe to be most likely the truth. The outcome is bound to upset or disappoint someone, for we all have our heroes and heroines, our ideals. I like Grace Kelly too, David. I like her movies and I like looking at her. She was special. But she was not perfect. Who indeed is? Frankly, I couldn’t care less about her morals or her behaviour. I simply write about it, nothing more. I research extensively and reach conclusions. They may be right and they may be wrong. I do not set myself up as an expert, merely as an observer. Readers can accept or reject my findings, wholly or in part. In effect, they are my personal opinions, nothing more. If you disagree with my findings you are within your rights to say so, as you have. I appreciate your comments, David. They are well set out and you might very well be more right than me. Thanks again.

  3. No apology necessary, Alan. I “own” my reaction. It is not so much to the behavior, but to what appears to be her “gold digger” reason
    for such. [Perhaps the wonderful quote; “She slept with every male
    at MGM except Lassie,” could apply to her in addition to Crawford.]
    Did Kelly, and her studio present her as being somewhat “regal”
    during her career as an actress? I could be very wrong, but she seemed to have an affected way of speaking.

    • Not really. Everyone was aware she was a man-eater, but she was brought up in society in Philly, private schooling and such, so the voice was not ‘put on’ at all. It fitted her fresh, wholesome face, but not her promiscuity. There is a funny story told by David Niven. At a stag party he was asked by Prince Rainier no less, who was the best partner he had ever had in bed? Without thinking to whom he was talking, he blurted out, ‘Oh easy, Grace, (then checked himself just in time),…er…Gracie Fields!’ Gracie Fields was about as sexy as a pair of army socks, but she was the only other Grace he could think of on the spur of the moment.

  4. It’s all very sickening.

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