She was born Grace Kelly in on Nov. 12, 1929, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but a marriage in 1956 to Monaco's Prince Rainier III turned this stunning, blonde Irish-American actress into European royalty. But the star of such films as "High Noon," "Rear Window," "To Catch a Thief" and "High Society" was also a faithful Catholic.
After becoming Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco, Kelly was no longer able to continue her movie career, but she didn't disappear. Her last three film appearances were for Family Theater Productions in the early 1980s, before her death in 1982 in a car crash caused by a stroke while driving.
In this Easter clip from our archives, featuring actor/director John Huston as host, Princess Grace prays the rosary with Family Theater's Irish-born founder, Father Patrick Peyton, the "Rosary Priest," whose signature phrase is "The family that prays together stays together."
She also traveled to the Vatican to record "The Nativity," a 1981 reflection on the Christmas season. It represented her final appearance on film. Here are two archival clips from that. The first features the voice of the host, Kelly's "To Catch a Thief" co-star, Cary Grant.
She also filmed "Seven Last Words," a Lenten reflection for FTP. And, if you ever happen to visit the FTP offices in Los Angeles, you'll find a parking spot labeled P. Grace, in her honor.
Princess Grace valued her faith deeply, and the tradition has continued into the next generation. In January 2016, People magazine reported that Princess Charlene, the wife of Princess Grace's eldest son, Prince Albert of Monaco, converted to Catholicism, the state religion of Monaco. Lest you think this was just a pro-forma act, here's what People had to say:
Shortly before her July 2011 wedding, Charlene, 37, who was born and raised Protestant, converted to Roman-Catholicism “of her own free will and choice” in April of that year. In part because it was a question of succession and Grimaldi tradition she said last summer, but more because she found strength in it.
“Catholicism is the state religion [in Monaco]. But for me, it represents much more. The values of this religion profoundly touch me and correspond perfectly to my spirit “
In January 2013, Prince Albert took me to the Vatican to present me to Pope Benedict XVI, just as Prince Rainier did with Grace Kelly and Pius XII,” she recalled, adding, “that experience was extremely intense and moving for me.”
Kelly was far from the only Hollywood star who worked with Father Patrick Peyton, and many who did weren't even Catholic. Learn more about his amazing media ministry -- and his worldwide campaign for family prayer, especially the Rosary -- in PRAY: THE STORY OF PATRICK PEYTON, in select theaters now.
Theater and ticket info at PrayTheFilm.com.
UPDATE: PRAY: THE STORY OF PATRICK PEYTON is available for digital purchase on a variety of platforms as of Dec. 18, 2020. Go to PrayTheFilm.com for details.
(Portions of this article were previously posted on the FTP blog in 2016.)
Image: Family Theater Productions
Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Manager and blog editor at Family Theater Productions.