Once Upon a Time: Behind the Fairy Tale of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier

Once Upon a Time: Behind the Fairy Tale of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier

by J. Randy Taraborrelli

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From master storyteller Taraborrelli comes the powerful and moving story of one of royalty's most secretive families, led by Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, told with passion and sympathy. photos.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446613804
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 04/01/2004
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 632
Sales rank: 248,137
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range: 13 Years

About the Author

J. Randy Taraborrelli is a respected journalist, a recognizable entertainment personality, and in-demand guest on many television programs including Today, Good Morning America, The Early Show, Entertainment Tonight, and CNN Headline News. He is the bestselling author of thirteen books.

Read an Excerpt

Once Upon a Time

Behind the Fairy Tale of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier
By J. Randy Taraborrelli

Warner Books

Copyright © 2003 Rose Books, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0446531642

Chapter One

The Kellys

Grace Patricia Kelly was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 12, 1929, the third of four children to John-better known as Jack-Brendan Kelly and Margaret Majer Kelly. It is not difficult even today to come across Philadelphians who have fond memories and fascinating anecdotes about local legend Jack, recently described by a journalist there as "one of the greatest characters in the history of the City of Brotherly Love." The son of an immigrant farm boy from County Mayo, Ireland, Jack promoted the myth that he had started out as a poor bricklayer, quit high school to help his parents and nine siblings, started his own company, and then worked his way up the ladder of "hard knocks" until finally becoming a millionaire. In truth, Jack did quit high school, but only in order to have more time to practice sculling on the Schuylkill River, not to support his family. He did, eventually, lay bricks, but not on his own, at least not at first. He actually worked for two older brothers, Patrick and Charles, who had already established their own successful construction company. When the ambitious Jack later started his own company, "Kelly for Brickwork," he did so in competition with those brothers. Eventually Charles went to work for Jack, alienating Patrick and causing a huge family rift.

Jack Kelly was a man to whom image was paramount. He realized that his rags-to-riches story had great appeal, especially in 1935 when, at the age of forty-five, he was the Democratic candidate for mayor of Philadelphia. Although he lost that election-the Republicans had held the office for the previous sixty years-he garnered more votes than had any Democrat before him. He was a popular, formidable man in Philadelphia, and would remain so for decades.

While most of the Kellys simply accepted Jack's fibs as an element of his image-making mentality, George Kelly was always the one dissenting voice, the brother eager to set the record straight. An award-winning playwright, his successes included The Torch-Bearers (his first Broadway hit in 1922), The Show-Off, and Craig's Wife (for which he won a Pulitzer Prize). Jack's stories of an impoverished background were completely at odds with George's version of his own childhood. In truth, George could be as pretentious as his brother, but in his own way. For instance, he fabricated the story that he had been privately tutored; he had actually attended public school like the rest of his family. Though fastidious, a man of impeccable manners with an obsession for the proper serving of high tea, George couldn't escape his and Jack's background: They were middle-class, at best.

What needs no embellishing, however, is that Jack Kelly was dedicated and persistent enough in his practicing to finally win a gold medal in sculling in the 1920 Olympic Games, after having been previously excluded from competition at Henley. His medal, his ready wit, and his good looks would take him far. When he wanted to start his own business, he did not have to scramble for seed money. Instead, his brothers supplied the funds, George as well as Walter, a noted vaudevillian performer. (There had also been a sister, Grace, who had show business aspirations and for whom Grace Kelly would be named. Sadly, she died at the age of twenty-three of a heart attack while ice skating.)

Though the Kelly family was wealthy, because theirs was "new money," it denied them certain status. Jack and Margaret longed for acceptance into the ranks of Philadelphia's elite, but they would never achieve it, no matter the balance of their checking accounts. The highest stratum of Philadelphia society at the time consisted of White Anglo-Saxon Protestants-WASPs-and that was it: No other ethnic group was allowed entrée. Working against the Kellys was the unavoidable fact that Jack was son of an Irish immigrant. At the time, Irish Catholics were thought of as the "working class," looked down upon, regarded as inferior by the snobbish Philadelphia high society-and nothing galled Jack and Margaret more than the inequity of such a caste system. (It is ironic that in Grace's last film, High Society-a remake of The Philadelphia Story-her character, Tracy Lord, is a member of the same social circle that considered her to be invisible when she was growing up.)

Though not accepted in the "inner" circle of Philadelphia society, Jack Kelly was a true bon vivant and raconteur, a man brimming with clever anecdotes, everyone's best friend, the life of any party. Tall, muscular, and strikingly handsome, with receding dark, wavy hair and penetrating, aquamarine eyes, Jack always wore custom-fitted suits made for him by the best tailors in the business; he wouldn't even put his car keys in his pockets for fear of ruining the contours. Though about as nearsighted as a person could be, he refused to wear prescription glasses because he felt he looked better without them. Passionate about politics, Jack was an early supporter of Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt-who had once described Kelly as "the handsomest man in America"-and campaigned for him in Philadelphia, where Republicans outnumbered Democrats ten to one. After he was elected President, Roosevelt remembered Kelly's support by making certain that the Public Works Administration offered work to Jack's Kelly for Brickwork company, which soon became one of the largest construction companies on the East Coast. Jack was also a close friend of George J. Earl, Pennsylvania's first Democratic governor in fifty years, elected in large part because of Jack's having stumped for him.

Margaret Majer Kelly, Grace's mother (called "Ma" in the family, short for Margaret and not a diminutive of "Mother"), was also an intriguing person, with noblemen in her German ancestry who could be traced back to Württemberg in the sixteenth century. The Majers had lived at Schloss Helmsdorf by Lake Constance before emigrating to Philadelphia. In 1914, when she was fourteen, Margaret met Jack Kelly at the Turngemeide swimming pool, a German club located at Broad Street and Columbus Avenue in Philadelphia, while the two enjoyed a recreational swim. Jack, a member of the swim team at Turngemeide, was ten years Margaret's senior.

Athletic, eye-catching, and full of life, the fair-haired Margaret held the distinction of becoming the first female athletic coach for coeds to be hired at the University of Pennsylvania. Also a local swimming champion, she went on to teach athletics to students at the Women's Medical College. Margaret also enjoyed a modestly successful career as a model, though it was not a vocation to which she was devoted, preferring instead to set her sights on traditional family goals. She married Jack Kelly on January 30, 1924, nearly ten years after first meeting him, at which point she converted from Protestant to Catholic. Margaret and Jack went on to make a formidable team: passionate, ambitious, determined-and both image-conscious, sometimes to the point of distraction, at least according to their friends and relatives.

In Margaret's view, Jack was the most fascinating, bestlooking man in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, and no one would dare hint otherwise to her. Never, say those closest to her, did she think anything less of him, even though he was known to enjoy the occasional extramarital dalliance. However, "naive" would not have been a word to describe this strong-minded woman. She was well aware that her husband was unfaithful to her. "He's the kind of man women tell their secrets to," she once confided, "and, then, the girl wants him, he wants her, and that's that." As long as her husband was home when she needed him to be there, she would ignore his outside romantic entanglements, continuing to love and admire him. Anyway, divorce created scandal, and Margaret would have none of that. In situations such as hers, financial security was the supreme reward for feigning ignorance. If she ever challenged Jack about any of his consorts, the argument stayed strictly between them; no one close to the family seems to have any memory of open marital discord between the Kellys. Perhaps it was because she could not control her husband that she then tried to exert so much power over her offspring. The couple had four children in nine years: Margaret (Peggy) in September 1925; Jack Jr. (Kell) in May 1927; Grace on November 12, 1929; and Elizabeth Anne (Lizanne) in June 1933.

Margaret had her life just as she chose to live it ... but at what cost? Though she acted the part well, she wasn't always the happy woman she presented to the world. The knowledge that she wasn't enough for Jack would eat away at her self-esteem, cause her to become brittle and, with the passing of time, unable to access honest, heartfelt emotions. Few knew the full extent of the emotional wounds beneath the surface of her sociable, polished persona. How would it look to outsiders if they were to discover the truth about her, about her marriage? Therefore she would never allow herself to lose control and would always keep others at a distance.

Still, Margaret was a woman with impeccable taste-and there was a great deal to be said for such an attribute if one hoped to move smoothly in society circles. Her table was always beautifully appointed with fine china, the food always delicious, exotic, and elaborately served. The consummate hostess, she was hospitable, personable, chatty, and witty. Servants at her parties were instructed to casually meander about in order to create an easy atmosphere. "I don't want my guests to think they [her employees] are afraid of me," she explained to a relative at a holiday party one year. "Though, in truth, they had damn well better be," she concluded with a wink.

Jack and Margaret's colonial manse at 3901 Henry Avenue, in the East Falls section of Philadelphia across the Schuylkill River from the Main Line, was built brick by brick by Jack's company, Kelly for Brickwork. Boasting seventeen opulently appointed rooms, the house sat on parklike, beautifully manicured grounds, along with a tennis court, a game room, and garage space for expensive antique automobiles. It was a showplace, an estate to which the four Kelly children could proudly invite friends for extravagant parties, a place where all were encouraged to engage in athletics.

Jack, always the competitive "man's man," was a strong believer in physical fitness. He had hopes that his brood would be the most athletic on the block, and three of his offspring were qualified for that challenge. Grace, though, was a disappointment. Eventually, when she got older, she would become a fairly good swimmer and tennis player, but mostly in an unsuccessful bid to please her father. As a young girl Grace lacked the self-assuredness that was one of the defining characteristics of the rest of the Kelly family. She was the child who would trip on her own feet while running up the stairs, bloodying her chin in the process. She was the needy girl with the runny nose who never seemed quite healthy; she had a cold for what seemed like ten years. She was the scared kid who hid behind Mommy's skirt as Daddy begged her to "at least try" to dive into the deep end of the swimming pool. More than once Jack demanded to know, "What's Grace sniveling about now?" It was as if the family had a secret meeting, took a vote, and decided that Grace was the odd one out.

This family dynamic led Grace to retreat within herself as a child and create a rich world of fantasy. The reality that she was an unwelcome guest in her own home would inspire her to dream of a different life, a life in which she was the center, where she was noticed, where she mattered. However, all the childhood reverie couldn't change the circumstances of her early youth: Grace grew up lonely, timid, and feeling like an ugly duckling in a family of swans.


Excerpted from Once Upon a Time by J. Randy Taraborrelli Copyright © 2003 by Rose Books, Inc.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Table of Contents

Part 1Courtship1
The Kellys3
A Complex Family10
A Fateful Telephone Call34
A Comedy of Errors41
The Palace44
The Grimaldis49
Grace Meets Rainier60
Oleg Cassini70
Father Figure75
Principality at a Crossroads82
A Prayer for a Princess86
The Swan90
"It Must Be a Sign"93
"Just Like Cinderella"97
"The Book"104
Prince Rainier Meets the Kellys106
Part 2Engagement113
Love at First Sight?115
The Proposal122
"I Have Made My Destiny"127
The "Fertility Test"134
The Dowry139
The Marriage Agreement145
The Announcement151
His Highness Lays Down the Law160
Grace under Pressure162
"Look What I'm Giving Up"170
Father Tucker to the Rescue176
Part 3Marriage181
Taking to the High Seas183
The Arrival of a Princess192
Grace's New Family199
The Civil Ceremony213
The Wedding220
Part 4Life at the Palace227
Transition: Grace's229
Transition: Rainier's236
Strengthening a Marriage238
Rainier Stages a "Coup"243
Grace Banishes Antoinette from the Palace257
The Lonely Princess260
The Stubborn Prince268
"More Palace Drama"277
Rainier Encourages Grace's Comeback282
"Don't Tell Father"289
"God Help Us, When This News Gets Out"292
"How Dare They Do This to Me?"298
"The Sound of Hope, Dying"303
A Crisis in Monaco308
Grace's Tortured Inner Life315
Father Tucker Leaves the Palace321
Coming to Terms326
The Most Important Choice333
Part 5Children Born Royal339
Caroline and Albert341
Grace's Work348
Tiv's Writings351
Freedom from Onassis355
Happy Times (1966-1970)359
Princess Grace Turns Forty366
Royal Parenting369
Tough Love371
Exodus from the Palace378
Rainier's Jubilee384
Whatever Happened to the Old "Gracie"?389
Crossing the Line395
What to Do about the Past?399
Grace's Brother in Trouble413
Philippe Junot418
Show Business ... but Not Really426
An Official Ban of Caroline's Wedding?432
Part 6Life Changes441
"What Happens to a Marriage?"443
Caroline's Wedding451
The Inevitable Divorce457
Stephanie's Turn461
Princesses: Grace and Diana466
"While We Dream, Time Flies"472
Rainier's Change of Heart479
"So Little Time"485
September 13, 1982490
The "Stephanie Theory"495
"The Unthinkable Has Happened"505
Calling Her to Glory509
Life after Grace515
Epilogue: Rainier518
Prince Rainier's Monaco Today527
A Note about Succession533
Princess Caroline535
Prince Albert544
Princess Stephanie547
A Note about the Royal Fortune558
A Note about Royal Status560
Source Notes and Other Information569

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Once upon a Time 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
To most of the world the wedding of Hollywood star Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco probably had all the makings of a fairy tale. There was a handsome prince in the appropriately luxe setting. As we now know if this particular fairy tale lacked the requisite happy ending. The beginning and middle were not a bed of roses either according to biographer Taraborrelli. In almost 500 pages there is a great deal according to Taraborrelli, some of which seems questionable. The narrative is rife with assumptions, such as attributing thoughts to Grace with, 'She may have been thinking' or 'She would have been pleased.' Or, his comment regarding a family member's statement, '....that sounds so much like one her mother might have made.' All of these conclusions seem to imply an intimacy with his subject that the writer did not enjoy. Further the dust jacket claims that Grace's thoughts and feelings regarding her wedding are revealed. Another claim to stretch credibility. Lastly, where was Taraborrelli's editor? To mention only one oversight: the wrong year for the death of Princess Diana is an all too obvious mistake. Aside from those reservations Taraborrelli has done a yeoman's task of assembling the minutia of both subjects lives from Grace's Philadelphia birth to Rainier's loveless childhood to their less than eventful first meeting to the Grimaldi dynasty today. Born to Jack and Margaret Kelly, a couple who yearned to be a part of the upper echelon of Philadelphia society, Grace was one of four offspring. She would spend her life seeking her distant father's approval. Handsome and gregarious, Jack always wore custom-tailored suits and was known as one of the biggest characters in the City of Brotherly Love. He pinned his Olympic hopes on his son, Kell, and doted on daughter Peggy, who was tough and smart. An outsider in the family circle, Grace sought comfort within herself. When she was 18 Grace went to New York City and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Through dint of sheer determination and a modicum of luck she became a Hollywood star, eventually winning an Oscar for 'The Country Girl.' Even this did not impress papa Jack who at the time is quoted as saying that he thought Peggy might have received such an honor but never Grace. Her movie years were marked by unhappy love affairs with Ray Milland and William Holden. (Taraborrelli claims that there was never a romance between Grace and Clark Gable while other biographers make the opposite assertion.) In 1955 Grace attended the Cannes Film Festival. For publicity purposes it was suggested that she visit Monaco while in France and have her photo taken with Prince Rainier - a meeting that would dramatically alter the lives of both. The Grimaldis have ruled the storybook principality of Monaco for over 700 years. One of the most sought after bachelors in the world, Prince Rainier well knew it was time for him to marry and produce an heir to the throne. While Grace, following adverse publicity concerning her affair with the married Ray Milland, concluded, 'I hated Hollywood. It's a town without pity.' The pair met briefly, each expressing the wish that they might meet again. They did, indeed. Upon a visit to the United States the following year Rainier, described as a 'shy, sometimes moody man,' proposed to Grace and she accepted, despite her strong feelings for fashion designer Oleg Cassini. In later years, when Rainier is asked whether or not it had been love at first sight, he replied, 'No....I don't believe in love at first sight anyway.' It is a wishy-washy expression, which I don't use.' Nonetheless, to the world theirs was a fairy tale romance capped by a fairy tale wedding. However, few in the world knew about the fertility test Grace was required to take, the dowry required, and the marriage agreement in which she relinquished all rights to any children the couple may have should the marriag
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much because it portraits Grace Kelly's charmed life as not so charming. It is a very indepth picture of life in the palace - the hum drum everyday trials and tribulations that Princess Grace suffered. It's amazing that all these high profile princesses (Grace, Diana, etc.) led such troubled lives. I enjoyed reading about Grace and Rainier's problems with their two high-spirited princesses - Caroline and Stephanie. It was especially interesting to learn of a possible cover-up regarding Princess Grace's death. The book also brought us up to date on the current status of the Grimaldi's. Stephanie's last ten years would have caused a great deal of heartache for Grace had she lived. I've read other books on the Grimaldis - this one is good - not great.
rcf1208 More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This will be on my list as one of the best books that I read in 2003. Excellent background material although I did find a couple of inconsistencies on dates. Excellent reading...could not put it down. Kodos Mr. Taraborrelli!!!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
J. Randy Taraborrelli has written a superb account of the lives of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier: Their courtship, the wedding, regrets and tribulations; and, finally, the tragic death of the princess. It is a compelling 'hard-to-put-down' read. --Ron Howe / Erskine, MN
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"ASHLEY!!! IT'S LUNCH TIME!!!" It was a summer day in California, and Ashley Hollows just got her new iPhone 6 Plus. I mean, before she had an iPhone 5 S and now she has the newest version of the iPhone 6 Plus. "Coming!" Ashley yelled down the stairs, while texting her friend, Jessica. Ashley walked down the stairs, with the phone in her hand. Her parents rolled their eyes. As Ashley took her seat at the table, her mother spoke up. "Ashley, dear... Your fater and I are going on a vaction to Tokyo for three weeks. Can you handle that?" Ashley looked up from her phone. "Three weeks? Alone? Awesome!" Ashley looked at her parent's faces, and she calmed down a bit. "Yah, I can handle it." She said, as she tapped her phone. Her parents exchanged glances. "Good, cause we are leaving now." ~~~ READ THE NEXT PART IN THE NEXT RESULT~~~