On Grace Kelly’s Image

I just finished reading the Grace Kelly biography, True Grace by Wendy Leigh, and find myself wholly disappointed. I can’t remember what led me to Grace Kelly. It might be the “royal” hoopla that has been happening over the past year, and it’s not coincidental that I read True Grace, after reading Marilyn Monroe’s autobiography, My Story.

Anyway, what stuck out the most about both women, was their contrasting images and how they all turned out to mean nothing in the end.  Monroe was the sexpot and over-the-top sex symbol,  whose ex-husband, Arthur Miller, described her as the “merry whore,” while Grace was the pure and proper princess. Yet, reading Grace’s biography, it turns out that Grace and Marilyn had more in common than their iconic images. They were not that different when it came to their sexual lives; although, you’d never guess it. It turned out, Grace was just as sexually promiscuous as Marilyn, and in many cases, Grace’s dalliances were even worse, since she had a penchant for sleeping with married men, twice her age, and usually on the first date. Monroe, at least, tried to avoid married men, and bedding men on the first date.

Kelly, according to Zsa Zsa Gabor, who had issues with both Kelly and Monroe, “slept with everybody,” a sentiment echoed by Kelly’s mentor, Alfred Hitchcock in his late life. Grace had a habit of going into the bathroom and coming out naked, usually on the first date.  The late actor, Tony Curtis, described Grace as a “Horny Philadelphia girl.” Grace slept with all her leading men, except for Jimmy Stewart, who refused her offer.

Many of Kelly’s die-hard fans do not take too kindly to this new light on Kelly’s promiscuity,or rather, would prefer not to hear it, for the simple fact that it contrasts her reputation of the frigid, pure, virginal princess, that which they (myself included) fell in love with.  How can someone whose images suggests class, grace, beauty and dignity behave in the manner Kelly did? (Many biographers and sympathizers blame it on Kelly’s obsession with pleasing her father.)

I can say, at least in Monroe’s case, her image matched her lifestyle. Kelly’s case seems almost hypocritical, if not manipulative, as if she misled you; although, to be fair, Kelly, at least in later life, disputed that she was cold and pure, and took issues with the media’s portrayal of her as an ice princess.

On the other hand, feminists, of the sex-happy variety anyway, have embraced Kelly, essentially because she serves as evidence of a “traditional” empowered woman in control of her sexuality in an era when being so was a professional death-sentence. Yet, I can’t help but feel let down.

Every time I listen to women today  talk about the “grace” and “class” of Kelly, I think of all the married older men she’d slept with. I wonder how many of these fans ignore the reality of Kelly’s existence, simply because it spoils Kelly’s fairytale image. Then I realize, Kelly, like Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe, are not iconic because of the way they lived their lives, but rather because of the image they projected to the world: glamor, beauty, and in the cases of Kelly and Diana, princess-status.

Kelly’s perfect, prim and proper ice princess image is just a facade or mirage of something that wasn’t really there. She was too perfect to be real, and so it really was, she was not her image. Yet, it’s her image that endures through time.

Maybe I shouldn’t have read any Grace Kelly biographies and just focused on her image?

Read More: Grace Kelly: Madonna or Whore

Vanity Fair Profile

Grace Kelly Exposed

True Grace available here.


About TCDH

Blogger with an opinion.
This entry was posted in Book Review, Celebrities, fashion, Feminism, Pop Culture, slutwalk, Women and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to On Grace Kelly’s Image

  1. Craig says:

    When Johnny Carson was still on the Tonight Show, one of the actresses from the so called “Golden Age of Hollywood”, was a guest one night and they were talking about that. She said that no woman ever got a decent part in a moved without gong to bed with the producer. I do not remember who she was for sure, but I think is was Marlene Dietrich or Gloria Swanson, or one of the other actresses from that era.

  2. R_grace says:

    I’m not sure the image of Grace Kelly has ever portrayed virginity or frigidity, and I’m certain that male actors of her day or ours would not get the same treatment as Grace and Marilyn got in your article. I fell in love with a great actress. I love her films and care not at all about who she slept with.

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