Even though it seemed like Grace Kelly would never find true love, she still yearned for it. Since childhood, she recalled competing with her three siblings for affection because her father, John, a former Olympic medalist, and her mother, Margaret, a champion swimmer, didn’t hand it out freely.
“We were always competing for everything — competing for love,” Grace said about her lonely childhood. Plus, it didn’t help that her father favorited her older sister Peggy more than her. “Anything that Grace could do, Peggy could always do better,” he once bragged to a reporter.
Since Grace didn’t feel accepted by her family, she later turned to her relationships in Hollywood to feed her burning desire for love and attention. In 1953, she stroke up a romance with her Mogambo costar Clark Gable, who was 28 years her senior. “She was devastated when their African romance came to an end,” said Sloan De Forest, author of Dynamic Dames: 50 Leading Ladies Who Made History. “Grace thought it would last. But he was old enough to be her father.”
Even though Grace desperately wanted to find true love, she had a pattern of dating men who were unattainable. She would often try to get attention and seek approval from older men who were already married or taken. Her thirst for affection reportedly led her to start a relationship with her Dial M for Murder costar Ray Milland that nearly cost him his 20-year marriage to his wife, Muriel.
“Ultimately, these relationships were based more in fantasy than reality,” Sloan admitted. “There was little chance that these men were going to divorce their wives, marry Grace and live happily ever after.” However, Grace did sort of find her happily ever after when she wed Monaco’s Prince Rainier Grimaldi in 1956.
“Grace felt that he would be a good father, and that was very important to her,” Jay Jorgensen, author of Grace Kelly: Hollywood Dream Girl, said. Even though Grace felt like Prince Rainier was The One, she had a hard time adjusting to royal life when she moved to Europe and had three children with him.
“Their courtship had been a whirlwind, but when she arrived in Monaco feeling constantly judged, it was a dash of cold water in the face,” Sloan admitted. Grace ended up quitting her Hollywood career to focus on her family.
Before she died in 1982, Grace said, “I did enjoy and take pride in my work as an actress, yet I’m bemused by suppositions that my life since has somehow been less fulfilling.”
“That,” she continued, “certainly is not the case.”
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