Grace Kelly: Her Secret Hideaway [UPDATE]

Hello, readers! Some of you may remember my very first post on The Classic Movie Muse where I recounted my visit to Newport, Rhode Island, and the story behind Grace Kelly’s stay there while filming High Society (1956), her last Hollywood film. If you haven’t read that post, click here.

Recently I went back to Newport and discovered MORE of this soon-to-be princess’s hideaway…

I was there on a glorious sunny day, not a cloud in the sky, when to my surprise a whole new area of the beach appeared to me. This time around I was visiting at low tide, and the water that had hidden the shore on my last visit had gone, leading me to discover a new, expansive rocky cove.

I noticed an escarpment that looked like it had been traversed many times in the past, but not recently. Was this the path Grace took to and from the beach before the inn staff had built the staircase for her?

As I said in my initial post, I feel so honored to be able to walk in the footsteps of Grace Kelly, and no visit is complete without a time of reflection and thinking of Grace herself. She was a great lady who went after what she wanted with abandon. She was loving, passionate, and gentle. A star whose light on earth was dimmed too soon, but will continue to glow in the cinematic heavens forever.

It’s hard for me to believe how this place, a cherished spot of one of the most famous personalities in history, is still so obscure and unknown; but to me, that is part of the mystery and the beauty that is Grace Kelly Beach.

Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!

It's Award Time! – The Liebster Award

A few weeks ago Zoe from Hollywood Genes nominated me for the Liebster Award! Thank you so much, Zoe! The Liebster Award is a way to reach out, connect, and encourage each other in the blogging community.

In order to accept this award there are a few rules to follow, so without further delay let’s begin…

The rules for the Liebster Award:

  1. Thank the nominator in your award post.
  2. Place the award logo somewhere on your blog.
  3. You must state up to 11 facts about yourself.
  4. Complete the questions that your nominator provided.
  5. Nominate as many bloggers as you’d like (11 is the maximum).
  6. Ask your nominees a series of questions (11 is the maximum).

11 Facts about Myself:

  1. I watched GWTW as a teen so many times I practically have the movie memorized and can push a play button in my head to “watch it” with sound included.
  2. I was told by two different people in the same day about ten minutes of each other that I look like Anne Hathaway.
  3. The books on my shelves can be divided into mainly four categories: film; fiction; interior design; and music/art.
  4. For a project in high school I had to draw all 50 of the US flags and as a result I still have a pretty good grasp of them.
  5. Classic film inspired me to take up ballroom dancing. I’m no Ginger Rogers, but I intended to develop my skills in this area as I absolutely love it.
  6. As a youngster I would pretend I was Esther Williams in our backyard pool and imitate her routine from the one film I had of hers.
  7. As a kid, I once ate a bowl and a half of plain Cool Whip in one sitting and haven’t touched it since.
  8. I play two instruments.
  9. My favorite classical composers are Debussy, Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninoff. As for popular music, the Great American Songbook is my jam – Jerome Kern, the Gershwins, Irving Berlin, Rodgers & Hammerstein.
  10. The Phantom of the Opera is my favorite stage show. I have seen it three times, and would gladly see it again.
  11. I have never broken a bone – knock on wood!

My 11 Questions from Zoe

What is the strangest or most off-brand topic/thing you’ve blogged about?

I’m afraid I don’t have an answer for this one as I try to keep everything on topic as best I can.

Who or what inspired you to start blogging?

One day after watching a film and looking it up online, I came across some of the lovely blogs that I am in contact with now. I thought, “Hey, I wanna do what these people are doing – to join them by way of spreading and sharing my love of classic movies with others.” These films are too great to be lost to obscurity and deserve to be noticed and appreciated for the wonderful pieces of art that they are.

Recast one of your favorite classic movies (pre 1970s) with modern actors.

VERTIGO (1958)

  • Jessica Biel as Madeleine Elster
  • Daniel Craig as Scottie Ferguson
  • Reese Witherspoon as Midge Wood

Recast one of your favorite modern movies with classic actors.

THE ILLUSIONIST (2006)

  • Ingrid Bergman as Sophie
  • Gregory Peck as Eisenheim
  • Claude Rains as Inspector Uhl
  • Vincent Price as Crown Prince Leopold

What is a book that you would love to see adapted into a film and why? 

I read a book as a youngster that I loved called The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye. It is a lovely tale with a wonderful message about being loved for who you really are – not for money, status, or appearance. The princess in the story is plucky, self-reliant, happy with who she is and takes the reins in delegating how her life plays out.

What do you consider the biggest misstep behind the scenes in the cinema world (i.e. not casting someone for a role, a specific directorial choice, a remake that shouldn’t have happened, an interview that went on to haunt someone, etc.)

No disrespect to Bogie, but if I was casting Sabrina (1953) I would have cast someone else as Linus Larrabee. Maybe Rock Hudson would have worked…I could see him playing the strictly business type turned soft by Audrey’s charms.

What do you consider the most fascinating film community scandal (past or present)?

Too many to name!

Which actor or actress do you think died way too soon and where would you have liked to see their career go had they lived?

Oh, there are so many I could go with here but my heart always goes out to Marilyn Monroe. She had the intelligence and the popularity to go up higher in the industry. She did have her own production company and I’m sure she could have kept going up the ladder if her life had permitted.

Which actor or actress missed their calling in a specific genre and why do you think they would or would have excelled in this vein? 

I would say Merle Oberon. In The Cowboy and the Lady (1938) she showed she had some comedic chops as well as being a fine dramatic actress.

Which 6 guests would you invite to your Hollywood party and why these specific 6? 

Oh yay, I love this question! I would invite Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Grace Kelly, William Holden, Lucille Ball, and Marlon Brando. I think besides being very talented as well as some of my favorite actors, these six would make a fine bunch to give advice about many things and would be all around awesome to hang out with.

Which onscreen outfit would you wear everyday if you could and why did you pick this one?

Grace Kelly’s dress from Rear Window (1954). Because it would make me feel beautiful and the skirt looks roomy enough to move around in and be comfortable. Wearing white all day would make me nervous though! I wouldn’t want to get it dirty 😉

The Nominees

  1. Pure Entertainment Preservation Society
  2. The Classic Hollywood Blog
  3. Classic Film Journal
  4. Femnista
  5. Hollywoodland Photos

My Questions for the Nominees

  1. When did you first become interested in classic film?
  2. What is your favorite movie quote?
  3. If you had to choose 5 movies to take with you to a deserted island what would they be and why those 5?
  4. Who is the latest actor/director etc. that you’ve discovered and where/how did you discover them?
  5. What’s something you’ve learned about yourself from blogging?

Congrats to the nominees!

Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!

The Sunshine Blogger Award – Hello Sunshine!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Paul from Silver Screen Classics has kindly nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award! The Sunshine Blogger Award is an award given by bloggers to bloggers who are positive, creative, and inspiring. I’ve been blogging for a little over a month so this is a huge honor to say the least. I am so very thankful! Thank you for your thoughtfulness, Paul!!

I’d also like to thank all those who have supported my blogging efforts and for the kindness they’ve extended in welcoming me to the classic film community. You’ll never know how much your thoughtful comments and supportive words mean to me. I’ve enjoyed chatting with each one of you and look forward to many more wonderful discussions in addition to reading your inspiring articles!

I could go on all day, but let’s commence with the preliminaries, shall we?

The rules concerning the award

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  2. Answer the eleven questions from the blogger who nominated you.
  3. Nominate eleven bloggers.
  4. Create eleven new questions for your nominees to answer.

I am going to make an amend to the nomination with the permission of Katharine Hepburn. “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” There are a few questions I have chosen not to answer. Nonetheless, I had a blast answering these questions and coming up with new ones for my fellow bloggers!

Questions and Answers

Which actor or actress who hasn’t received an Oscar do you think deserves one? And for what film?

Merle Oberon. I think she was very underrated. Maybe her beauty overshadowed her abilities. Her Cathy in Wuthering Heights is heartbreaking and worthy of an award, but 1939 was such a monumental year in films and had so many great contenders. I have yet to see her Oscar nominated role The Dark Angel (1935). If anyone has seen that one, please let me know!

Who is your favourite child actor and name a film they were in which you love.

Mary Jane Saunders in Father is a Bachelor (1950). She is a new discovery of mine thanks to Mike at Mike’s Take on the Movies. Read Mike’s review of this adorable film here.

If a biopic was made of you during the classic film era (1920s to 1960s), who would you like to play you and why?

Audrey Hepburn. Who wouldn’t want to be represented by her? She’s elegant, unpretentious, and her good nature shines through her face like a ray of sunshine.

Which famous starry couple (of any time and place) would you want as neighbours?

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. With their crazy antics and menagerie, they seem like the perfect neighbors to spice up the neighborhood.

If there was ONE actor or actress (living or deceased) whom you could interview for your blog, who would it be and why would you choose that person?

Grace Kelly. She has always held a certain fascination and mystery for me. The films she worked on and people she worked with were legendary. I’d love to hear of her experiences working with them and the making of those films. Her life is so inspiring as well. Coming from a family where only her uncle could appreciate her gifts and interests must have been difficult, but she pressed on despite her family’s disbelief in her abilities. In the end, she outshined all of them.

Which film character’s closet would you love to raid?

Hmm this is a tough one but I’m going to say Scarlett O’Hara. She is the ultimate and cannot be beat! I can’t get enough of the lush fabrics she wears. The robes she wears towards the end of the film are spectacular.

Of all the classic film studios, which is your favourite and why?

MGM. I’m drawn to the glamour of the studio, the plethora of musicals they turned out, the way they used color, the art direction, and the roster of fabulous stars. It’s also pretty fascinating to me how the studio was a whole world unto itself.

Choose a film where you would love to change the ending. Explain what that change would be and why you would do it.

I’d love to change the ending to Sabrina (1954). It always felt off to me that Sabrina and Linus get together. I can’t feel the chemistry between them and I don’t see them lasting for the long haul. I understand that Sabrina brought Linus out and made him realize he was missing something, that he needed something in life more than his corporate world. I would rather have them part as friends where Linus finds someone in New York, and Sabrina goes off to Paris and finds someone wonderful there.

The Nominees for The Sunshine Blogger Award

The Wonderful World of Cinema

Poppity Talks Classic Film

A Vintage Nerd

Watching Forever

Love Letters to Old Hollywood

Silver Screenings

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies

Coffee, Classics & Craziness

The Flapper Dame

A Person in the Dark

Caftan Woman

The nominees above have wonderful blogs and I highly, highly recommend checking them out if you’re not acquainted with them already!

The Questions

  1. What are two of your favorite films that have also won Best Picture?
  2. What is your favorite film score?
  3. What is your favorite play to movie adaptation?
  4. What is your favorite decade of film? Your least favorite? Why and why not?
  5. If you could be a character in a film for a day who would it be and why?
  6. What is the latest film related book you’ve read? Share something new you learned from it.
  7. You’re given the chance to recast a film from the golden era. Which film would it be and who would you choose for your dream cast?
  8. Do you prefer Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly?
  9. You’ve walked into a restaurant and have the choice of having five folks from the film industry (actors/actresses/directors/screenwriters/composers etc.) join you for dinner. Who would you choose and why?
  10. What’s a film related item you have on your holiday wish list?
  11. You are given the chance to go back in time and watch the filming of a movie from the golden age. Which is it and why?

Congrats to my nominees!

Just know that there is absolutely no pressure to participate, it’s totally understandable if you choose not to; however, I do recommend it as it is a lot of fun.

I’m extending the invitation to everyone, not only the nominees, to answer as many questions as they’d like in the comment section. I look forward to reading your answers! Until then…

Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!

Grace Kelly: Her Secret Hideaway

I love walking in the woods, on the trails, along the beaches. I love being part of nature. I love walking alone. It is therapy. One needs to be alone to recharge one’s batteries.

— Grace Kelly

Soon-to-be princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly was 26 years old when she agreed to marry Prince Rainier. She was at the top of her game having just won an Oscar for The Country Girl, and she held Hollywood and the world in the palm of her hand. Before settling into her royal role, however, she had one more role to play – that of Tracy Lord in the MGM film High Society.

Hollywood hit the road and headed to Newport, Rhode Island, for on location shooting and Grace became a summer resident at the elegant and historic Castle Hill Inn. She secured a cottage of her own with a small beach only steps away from her room. Seeking a place for relaxation and privacy, Grace would visit the beach and enjoy her free time there.

The staff of the inn noticed how often Grace would venture down to the beach and how unwieldy it was for her to climb back up the rocky hill. They soon had a staircase built for her to make her hideaway all the more accessible, and it was christened “Grace Kelly Beach.”

-Images are my own unless otherwise noted-

When I visited Grace Kelly’s beach I couldn’t help but think of what Grace was thinking and feeling during this time of her life. After all, she was about to leave her home country to become a ruler in a foreign one. Was she reticent about leaving her friends and family behind, having to learn another language, and having to live up to the public’s expectations?

Grace arriving at the 1956 Academy Awards ceremonies-her last appearance in Hollywood as a working actress. A month later she wed Prince Rainier.

Image: Public Domain

Grace Kelly brought undeniable warmth, charm, and elegance wherever she went; although she is gone, she is not forgotten. Grace is one of my favorite actresses and it was both a thrill and an honor for me to discover and visit a place that was so special to her. If you’re a fan, be sure and capture this piece of royal Hollywood history for yourself!

This post is my contribution to The 5th Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon hosted by Musings of a Classic Film Addict, The Flapper Dame, and The Wonderful World of Cinema. Thank you, ladies, for hosting this Grace-filled event!

Be sure to stop by their blogs and read the other lovely posts honoring the one and only Grace Kelly. For day 1 click here, day 2 click here, and day 3 click here.

Want more Grace? Check out my post Grace and Kate: The Princess and The First Lady of Cinema, then if that’s not enough, read about Grace as the ultimate Hitchcock blonde in my review of Hitchcock’s Heroines by Caroline Young.

Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!

Grace and Kate: The Princess and The First Lady of Cinema

Grace and Kate. Kate and Grace. Could there be two stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age any more different from each other than these two? Both of these women made their indelible mark on film history with their individuality, remarkable talent, and unwavering determination. As different as they were, there still are many notable similarities. My purpose in this post is to uncover those similarities, thereby giving us a double take of these two legends.

-Images are in the Public Domain unless otherwise noted-

The Early Years

Images: https://forums.thefashionspot.com/threads/grace-kelly-3.207135/page-30 (left); Pinterest (right)

Grace was born into a wealthy family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her father, Jack Kelly, was a three time Olympic champion rower who encouraged his family to participate in any and all manner of athletics. Grace’s mother was a champion swimmer who became a physical education teacher for ladies at the University of Philadelphia. She also modeled for a number of years.

Every summer the Kelly family retreated from the hustle and bustle of Philadelphia by vacationing in Ocean City, New Jersey. In Ocean City they enjoyed the beach, boardwalk, and quiet life along the shoreline.

When Grace was a teenager she was part of her school’s hockey and swim teams, and she loved to dance.

Young Grace dreamed of being an actress; however, her parents were not keen on the idea. At nineteen, they permitted her to go to New York to study acting so she could get it out of her system. Little did they know she would be quite successful, and that it would change the course of her life.

Image: Pinterest (right)

Kate was born in Hartford, Connecticut, to a prosperous family. Her father, Thomas Hepburn, was a doctor at Hartford Hospital, and her mother was the director of the Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association. Her family had a summer home in Fenwick, a borough of Old Saybrook, where the Connecticut River flows into the Long Island Sound. Kate’s father believed in the importance of physical activity, and Kate learned boating, fishing, and swimming at an early age. She also grew an affinity for tennis and golfing, becoming a state semi-finalist in the latter.

While attending her mother’s alma mater, Bryn Mawr College, Kate grew interested in acting. She participated in some of the college plays and decided that was what she wanted to do. Her parents weren’t entirely thrilled, but Kate pursued her dream nevertheless.

Negotiations, Camera, Action!

In 1952, Grace was offered a role that she simple couldn’t refuse. Mogambo would give her the chance to work with two of her heroes, John Ford and Clark Gable, and the film would be shot on location in Africa; however, in order for her to accept the role she would be tied in to a seven year contract with MGM. Grace made two stipulations: that she could return to her first love, the theater, one out of every two years, and that she would be permitted to live in her apartment in New York City. MGM agreed to the terms, proving that Grace, though still very new to Hollywood, could call the shots.

I signed with MGM because Mogambo offered the opportunity to work with John Ford and Clark Gable, and to make the picture in Africa. If the production had been scheduled in Arizona, I wouldn’t have signed the contract. But I did – at the departure desk of the airport, on my way out of the country.”

Grace kelly

In 1942, Kate really was the woman of the year. Having collaborated on the story with a playwright, she brought the idea for the film to the studio heads at MGM. She demanded a fixed sum for her services as well as for the story writers. When the terms were met, she also chose her director, Stevens, and co-star, Tracy.

“I was fearless…and lawless.”

katharine hepburn

Woman of the Year (1942) was Kate’s first film with Spencer Tracy, and it was so successful that it led to a series of films they made together, (nine in total) as well as the blossoming of their legendary romance. Kate also signed a contract with MGM during the making of the film.

The Philadelphia Stories

When Grace Kelly set out for New York to pursue her acting career, she applied and was accepted to the American Academy of Fine Arts in New York City. After making her Broadway debut and completing her training at the academy, she played Tracy Lord in The Philadelphia Story for her commencement performance.

Images: https://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/HolyCinema/archives/2018/02/09/3-good-reasons-why-you-should-skip-the-fifty-shades-trequel-and-see-high-society-instead-this-v-day (left); https://www.marieclaire.co.uk/fashion/10-of-grace-kelly-s-most-beautiful-on-screen-outfits-21124 (right)

In 1956, Grace was cast in the film version of the play with a few changes. High Society, as it was now called, was a splashy Technicolor musical, made in the grand MGM fashion. As Tracy Lord, Grace was given a duet to sing with co-star Bing Crosby. MGM wanted to bring in a singer to dub Grace, but Bing insisted that Grace had a good voice and that she could carry her part. The result was pure magic! Grace and Bing’s tender duet, “True Love”, won a gold record – an amazing feat for someone unknown as a singer.

High Society turned out to be Grace’s last film in Hollywood – a fine swan song for the actress who in five, short years rose to the top. When filming was complete she started making preparations to leave America to marry her fiance, Prince Rainier of Monaco.

In 1939, Kate was at an all time low in her career. She had just endured a series of flops which had earned her the label, “box office poison.” She was determined to make a come back and turn things around. A friend of hers, Philip Barry, had just the thing. He wrote a play with her in mind for the lead character. The Philadelphia Story opened on Broadway and was a smash with Kate playing Tracy Lord, the haughty, flighty socialite. Kate had made a risky business move in the venture, but it paid off. She did not ask for a salary, and instead asked for a percentage of the play’s profits. Kate’s boyfriend at the time was the multi millionaire Howard Hughes. He purchased the film rights to the play for her, setting her next move in motion.

Kate sold the rights to MGM studio chief, Louis B. Mayer, for $250,000. Other studios had offered her more, but Kate wasn’t after money; she wanted creative control. In exchange Kate got her pick of the director, producer, cast, screenwriter, and she would play the lead once again.

The Philadelphia Story (1940) became Kate’s ticket back into the ranks of beloved star, and she continued acting into her eighties. She said of her character, “I gave her life, and she gave me back my career.” The film won two Oscars and endures as one of the most loved classics of all time.

Icon Status

Images: Pinterest (left); https://baghunter.com/blogs/news/princess-grace-kelly-history-of-hermes-kelly-bag (middle); Pinterest (right)

Grace is known for her classic, feminine, elegant style. Whether a star or a princess, she always dressed the part beautifully. When she became a bride, she stunned the world with her wedding dress, forever setting the prototype for bridal wear. When pregnant with her first child, she used her beloved Hermes handbag to hide her baby bump. Shortly thereafter, it became known as the “Kelly bag” and remains as such till this day.

Image: http://hamptonroadsfashionandstyle.com/2014/09/top-10-style-icons-of-all-times.html (left)

Kate never followed anyone else’s style – she created her own. She brought menswear inspired clothing into the spotlight, making it more fashionably acceptable for women. Kate loved wearing wide leg trousers, loafers, blazers, and collared shirts. These looks were worn by Kate in her films and her fans imitated her style, setting a trend that has lasted for decades.

And there you have it…two extraordinary ladies that made their place in history by living their lives unapologetically, with a lot more in common than one might think.

Thank you for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!

Book Nook – Hitchcock's Heroines by Caroline Young

Hitchcock’s Heroines, by Caroline Young, is a beautiful coffee table style book that is written from a unique perspective – that of the leading ladies and their working relationship with the famous director. This topic has been discussed in the past, but never with such style and visual splendor.

This book takes us on a guided tour of (almost) each film that Hitchcock made. Each film is given eight spreads which cover the production of the movie, how each actress was cast, her personality and style preferences, and what she thought of the Master of Suspense. In addition, the plot of the film and a brief biography of each actress are clearly and neatly presented.

Full page black and white and color images abound, making this a real treat for the eyes. There are numerous costume sketches, behind the scenes photos, costume test and production photos – enough to warrant repeat viewings of this book.

what did i enjoy?

I love how Hitchcock’s stylistic choices for his characters are discussed in detail and how these choices contributed to the storytelling. I also enjoyed learning how the actress’ personal style choices came through in the final design for her character.

Edith Head, the legendary costume designer, gets some time to shine in this book as well, as she was part of Hitchcock’s “dream team” and worked on some of his most successful films. It’s great to hear her personal thoughts about collaborating with the director and how she worked to make his creative visions come to life.

what would i change?

I was surprised that not every Hitchcock film was included in this book. The one that immediately comes to mind is I Confess along with Strangers on a Train. Granted, those films are not as well known as The Birds and Vertigo but I still would have liked to see them included and learned the behind the scenes facts about them as well.

who is this book for?

I’d recommend this book for any fans of Hitchcock or Grace Kelly. Since Grace has been called” the ultimate Hitchcock blonde” there are lots of photos and commentary about her and Hitch’s collaborations, making this a must for any Grace fan. I’d also recommend this book for those interested in costume design, Old Hollywood style, and female character studies.

want to know more?

Those who would like to know more about this topic might enjoy Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and his Leading Ladies by Donald Spoto. I haven’t read Spellbound, but Hitchcock’s Heroines seems like a coffee table version of Spoto’s book.

Warning: this book DOES contain spoilers! If you want to avoid them I’d suggest watching the movie you’re interested in learning about before reading the related section.

You can buy today’s book, Hitchcock’s Heroines, by clicking here.

Grace Kelly and James Stewart in a promo shoot for Rear Window (1954)

Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!