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.
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.
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.