Grace Kelly (1929-1982)
- Constance Smith, Taxi, 1953. Kelly's agent showed her Taxi test around and two legendary directors were first to jump. “This dame has breeding, quality and class,” said John Ford, grabbing her for Mogambo. Alfred Hitchcock adored her “sexual elegance” and snapped her up for Dial M For Murder. “You could see Grace’s potential for restraint.
- Eva Marie Saint, On The Waterfront, 1954. Grace lost Marlon Brando from High Noon, and now lost him again. “I finally decided it was ridiculous,” said director Elia Kazan. “Who would have believed Grace Kelly... grew up in the wilds of the Hoboken waterfront.” Grace got Brando on the night of March 30, 1955, after they won top acting Oscars (Eva Marie won supporting actress) and they were found in bed by Grace’s lover, just beaten to the Oscar. Just not Bing Crosby’s night.
- Susan Hayward, Soldier of Fortune, 1954. At 53, Clark Gable (and the critics!) agreed he was far too old for this kind of Macao action caper… Yet still young enough to have the 28-years-younger Kelly as his partner!
- Gloria Grahame, The Cobweb, 1954. Director Vincente Minnelli's initial choice.
- Kay Kendall, The Adventures of Quentin Durward, 1955. She laughed it off as “a cowboy story in armour.” But MGM wanted a second Ivanhoe for Robert Taylor. This wasn’t it.
- Elizabeth Taylor, Giant, 1955.
- Jean Simmons, Guys and Dolls, 1955. Producer Sam Goldwyn aimed high: Kelly and Kelly, Gene and Grace, as Sky Masterson and Sarah Brown. Simmons only discovered this after the first rushes, when Goldwyn took her face in his hands and said: “I'm so glad I couldn't get Grace Kelly.”
- Shirley MacLaine, The Trouble With Harry, 1955. After Dial M For Murder and Rear Window, Alfred Hitchcock planned to make four in succession with Grace.
- Irene Papas, Tribute To A Bad Man, 1955. When Kelly cooled, Spencer Tracy began to question his own interest on the project. Grace finally refused it after the lowly Green Fire at MGM - in order to join Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant, To Catch A Thief and Monaco... where she met this prince fella.
- Virginia Mayo, Great Day in the Morning, 1955. Producer Edmund Grainger could not decide whether to go young or old for his Colorado Western. For his leading lady he thought of Kelly (didn’t everyone!) or the six years older Shelley Winters. (Worse for the hero, when he hesitated between Robert Mitchum and the 25 years older William Powell!)
- Susan Hayward, I’ll Cry Tomorrow, 1955. When MGM voted for Hayward over June Allyson for the alcoholic Broadway/Hollywood singing star Lillian Roth, director Charles Walters stormed out and Daniel Mann strolled in. Also in the loop were Roths of all ages… Piper Laurie, 22; Grace Kelly and Jean Simmons, 25; Janet Leigh, 27 ; Jane Russell, 33; and Jane Wyman, like Allyson and Hayward, 37. On Oscarnight, Hayward lost a fourth time.
- June Allyson, The Opposite Sex, 1955. MGM’s first idea for Kay Ashley Hilliard in The Women re-make set on Manhattan Island, “a body of land consisting of 4m million square miles, completely surrounded by women.” Far bigger than Monaco!
- Sophia Loren, The Pride and The Passion, 1956. Cary Grant (not Frank Sinatra) had co-star approval. When Ava Gardner had to be ruled out (Sinatra was divorcing her), Cary called up Grace - but she was headed to Monaco. Director Stanley Kramer went with his first choice. Enter: Sophia for $200,000 - and within a week, “we fell in love,” said Sophia. “But I was also in love with Carlo [Ponti, her mentor-producer].” Both men were married at the time; and, indeed, Grant had been having a fling with a young Spanish hunk.
- Doris Day, The Man Who Knew Too Much, 1956. “Graciebird” was now a serene highness princess. So Alfred Hitchcock had to loookl elsewhjere... and they told him Doris was hot. At the box-office, maybe.
- Lauren Bacall, Designing Woman, 1956. Co-star Jimmy Stewart was there when Grace delivered the understatement of the year to the boss: “Mr Schary, I’m going to get married.” Director Joshua Logan said that Jim “was - well - ecstastic about working with Grace again” and lost all interest when she split for Monaco and Lauren Bacall took over. “I don’t know for sure if Jim would have strayed with Kelly,” added Logan. “But Grace, you know, could seduce a man with just a look from those big, warm eyes. I don’t think a man could help himself where she was concerned.”
- Dana Wynter, Something of Value, 1957. No thanks, she had already had her cherished African trip in Mogambo, 1953. And with Clark Gable. Difficult to top that.
- Jennifer Jones, The Barrets of Wimpole Street, 1957. She agreed to High Society and The Swan but the third MGM plan became a revenge for Jennifer, who had been replaced by Grace in her Oscar-winning Country Girl, 1954.
- Elizabeth Taylor, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, 1957. Would she have been accepted as Monaco’s future Serene Highness Princess Grace if she’d made this Tennessee Williams tale about the sexually frustrated Maggie… ? Also seen: Carroll Baker. Ava Gardner, Lana Turner. Taylor’s husband, producer Mike Todd, died in a plane crash on March 22, 1958. She collapsed but returned to work between April 14-May 19. “The film saved my life.”
- Eva Marie Saint, North By Northwest, 1959. By now, Alfred Hitchcock had lost her to the principality of Monaco... which as Metro boss Dore Schary pointed out to His Serene Highness Prince Rainier, was a country smaller than the MGM back lot.
- Daniela Bianchi, From Russia With Love, 1962.
- Tippi Hedren, The Birds, 1962. Always due for Grace, it was put on back burner for a possible Hitchcock TV tale. Tippi got the call that an anonymous producer-director was interested in her on Friday October 13, 1961. When it proved to be Hitch - and being a New York model “on the wane” - she figured that any contract would be for his TV series. Three days of tests later, using scenes from Rebecca, Notorious, To Catch A Thief - opposite Martin Balsam, specially flown in from New York - meant it was for a big movie. “I really did not expect that.” He had loved the way she had turned her head to a wolf-whistle in a diet drink commercial - so he repeated in it in the film. Hitch tried to do more than whistle… “To be the object of somebody's obsession is a really awful feeling when you can’t return it... It was something I’d never experienced before. It wasn’t love. I certainly am not capable of discerning what was going through his mind or why. I certainly gave no indication that I was ever interested in a relationship with him... He was funny. I learned so much from the man about how to make a motion picture. There were times of delight and joy with him.”
- Tippi Hedren, Marnie, 1963.
“A pity that fell through,” said Alfred Hitchcock. “The approach came from her, not me. Throughout the negotiations, we had no contact at all. It was all done through agents. In fact, when I read about it in the paper, I sent her a wire: WHAT AN INTERESTING PIECE OF NEWS. She only cancelled the project because of repercussions at home.” Or, as intended co-star Sean Connery put it: “The crowned heads of Europe decreed that she shouldn’t play it.” Actually, Prince Rainier was in favour, his stuff-shirt advisers were not. Hedren on lovelorn Hiutch: ”He was evil, deviant, almost to the point of dangerous because of the effect he could have on people who were totally unsuspecting. He ruined my career... but he didn’t ruin my life.”
- Janet Suzman, Nicholas and Alexandra, 1970. Sam Spiegel wasn’t the first producer to think he’d persuaded Her Serene Highness back into movies. At least, she attended the Royal premiere in Monte Carlo. Didn’t help this “irredeemably dull… traipse through one of the most extraordinary events thew orld has known” (as per The Guardian critic Derek Malcolm).
- Shirley MacLaine, The Turning Point, 1977. Should have been Grace (now on the Fox board) and Audrey Hepburn. Choice of roles was - obviously - Kelly's. She felt drawn to the (ballet) star who dumped her career for marriage... Hmm!