Donald Spoto gives readers a fresh look at Grace Kelly (1929–1982) in his new book, "High Society: The Life of Grace Kelly." Spoto chronicles her early years in an affluent Philadelphia neighborhood and moves on to her glamorous Hollywood career, which lasted until she became the wife of Monaco's Prince Rainier. She enjoyed a rich life as a royal, raising three children and working hard for the arts. She died in a car crash at the age of 52.
The noted film biographer draws on his hours of face-to-face interviews with the Academy Award-winning actress and her co-stars, including James Stewart and Cary Grant.
Read the excerpt below, and then head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.
During our last meeting, I asked Grace Kelly Grimaldi if she planned to write an autobiography or to authorize a writer to compose her life story. "I'd like to think I'm still too young for that!" she said with a laugh. Without any hint of a dark premonition, she then added, "Donald, you really ought to wait until twenty- five years after I'm gone, and then you tell the whole story." I have honored her request for a delay: Grace left us in September 1982, and I started work on this book early in 2007.
I spent many hours with this remarkable woman over several years, beginning with our first meeting during the afternoon of September 22, 1975; in a short time she offered me a friendship that deepened over the years. At our introduction, at her home in Paris, she was preparing to relocate from her apartment on the Avenue Foch to another residence nearby. There were packing boxes, and movers working with quiet efficiency, and my tape recording of that afternoon indicates that there were only three brief interruptions in our long conversation.
First, an elderly attendant, the only servant I saw that day, inquired what he might offer for refreshment, and Grace asked if I would like tea and biscuits. Then, a few moments after we began the interview, Grace apologized as she went over to a sliding glass door to the terrace, to admit her cat, eager to check out a visitor. Later, Grace's youngest child, ten- year- old Princess Stéphanie, emerged from her room. "Mommy, I can't find my yellow sweater."
Grace told her to try the obvious place—the drawers of her dresser. Stéphanie returned a few moments later, unable to find the beloved sweater. Grace excused herself, went to Stéphanie's aid and returned moments later, the wardrobe problem having been quickly resolved.
The matter had not been attended to by a servant, nor had one been looking after the child during my visit. "I hope you don't mind these little interruptions," Grace said that afternoon. "We just don't like the idea of turning the children over to nannies and minders. We like to help them ourselves—and then of course we know what to tell them when they ought to do something on their own. They don't always have everything done for them, I can tell you that!"
My visit that day was an important part of the research for my first book, The Art of Alfred Hitchcock, the first full- length treatment of all the director's movies. Knowing that she gave interviews but rarely, I had not much hope when I wrote from my home in New York to Grace's secretary at the palace in Monaco. Up to 1975, my writing résumé listed only a few magazine articles and one essay in a book—hence I had little hope for an interview with the princess, who was constantly besieged with such requests.