Oct 3, 2007

Remembering Grace

Aside from the whole made-love-to-Cary-Grant-repeatedly-in-To Catch A Thief aspect of her movie-star life - that was also the film were she was devastatingly rich, wore fabulous Edith Head gowns, exceeded the speed limit along the coast of France in her sporty convertible and carried a picnic basket of chicken and beer to entice swarthy men like Grant's character, John Robie - posh Philadelphian actress Grace Kelly truly did have a pretty enviable life, cut short though it was by tragedy. The softspoken blonde beauty, best known for her roles in Hitchock classics like Rear Window and the aforementioned Thief (her chemistry with Grant is incendiary), attended the Academy for Dramatic Arts and cracked into stardom in only her second film, High Noon, at age 22. The movie was a blockbuster, and Grace, opposite perpetual American hero Gary Cooper, was vaulted into the hallowed halls of Hollywood superstardom, an instant and unforgettable icon who would only make 9 more films in the course of her career. (In case you aren't jealous of her resume yet, she won an Academy Award at the age of 25 for only her sixth film role ever and, less than a year later, married the Prince of Monaco, thereby becoming one of America's first princesses.)

Despite the obvious attractive elements of her fame, position and dramatic talent (not to mention the whole Cary Grant thing), the point is inarguable that Grace Kelly is absolutely and astonishingly beautiful, her lithe frame and delicate features a perfect complement to the chic, understated, fitted-and-full styles of her era; every aspect combines to create the epitome of effortless elegance that she embodies in so many of her films. Her propensity for being tirelessly photogenic would be intolerable were it not so enchanting, even decades later - a modern goddess in a Helen Rose creation.

Still smitten with her image decades later, LIFE Magazine has published a special full-length issue devoted to America's motion picture princess in honor of the silver anniversary of her tragic and untimely death in an auto accident - she would be 77, were she still living - and it is a lush, intimate photofest, cover-to-cover with voyeuristic views of the American princess's day-to-day life, spanning the years of her fame into the quieter, more reclusive time she spent with her family as Monaco's Royal Highness, where her films were banned and her actress past wasn't spoken of. Famed photographer Howell Conant provides the picture retrospectives which span from 1955 until Kelly's death in 1982, and his camera extracts a multitude of facets of his single subject matter - the demure, the sophisticated, the unforgettable Grace Kelly.

LIFE's "Remembering Grace" is available only at booksellers, not online, for a cover price of $10.99.

Update: I bought this magazine over the weekend and I absolutely cannot stop reading it - it was made to pore over again and again. The text may be a little lame, but the photos are simply stunning and well worth the price. Putting off my calc homework has never been so chic!

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