At the age of just 26, Hollywood star Grace Kelly turned her back on Tinseltown in the hope of living happily ever after as the Princess of Monaco. But her marriage to Prince Rainier III was far from being a fairytale. In fact, there have been numerous reports that the union was blighted by flaring tempers, scandalous affairs – and much more besides. It’s perhaps little wonder, then, that an apparently much-changed Kelly later seriously considered returning to the movies – and leaving her husband. So where did it all go wrong?
Well, when you consider the vastly different early lives of Kelly and Rainier, the answers begin to become clear. In November 1929, you see, Grace Patricia Kelly was born into a very affluent family from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her Irish-American father, John, owned a successful brick company that had made him a millionaire many times over. He had also excelled at sports, having been a champion rower who had won three Olympic gold medals – two in 1920 and a third in 1924.
Meanwhile, Kelly’s mother, Margaret, was of German stock and, before marrying John, had been a physical education instructor at the University of Pennsylvania. But it was perhaps other members of Kelly’s family who offered some indication of her future fame. Yes, the star’s uncle on her father’s side had been a stage actor who’d appeared in early Hollywood movies. Another paternal uncle was a director and screenwriter, too.
Kelly always had potential, mind you. As a young girl, she acted in various school productions, and – in an uncannily accurate prediction – her graduate yearbook said simply, “Miss Grace P. Kelly – a famous star of stage and screen.” Kelly, of course, went on to pursue her acting ambitions in the wider world – despite her father’s huge disapproval. Apparently, he thought that acting was just a short step away from streetwalking.
Still, Kelly studied at New York’s famous American Academy of Dramatic Arts – and graduated when she was 19. Then stage work on Broadway led to appearances in TV dramas, and this in turn brought Kelly to the attention of Hollywood. Her debut as a movie actor came in 1951 when the starlet scored a minor part in a long-forgotten film noir called Fourteen Hours.
But Kelly’s big breakthrough came later that year when Tinseltown producer Stanley Kramer offered the actress the role of leading lady alongside Gary Cooper in the classic 1952 western High Noon. Kelly then signed a seven-year contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on the soaraway salary of $850 per week. Her notable cinema triumphs for the studio included Dial M for Murder and Rear Window – both released in 1954 and both directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
But then everything changed. You see, Kelly’s third movie with Hitchcock – 1955’s To Catch a Thief – proved to be her last filmed performance. The thriller was shot in the South of France, and it was while Kelly was there that she was summoned to nearby Monaco for a photocall with Prince Rainier. At the time of their first meeting, though, the star had been dating French actor and war hero Jean-Pierre Aumont. Nevertheless, Kelly’s introduction to Rainier eventually led to courtship. This was followed by marriage – and the end of her acting career. So who was this prince who dramatically transformed her life?
Rainier Louis Henri Maxence Bertrand Grimaldi was born in May 1923 in Monaco’s Prince’s Palace. His parents were Prince Pierre and Princess Charlotte, the Duke and Duchess of Valentinois. Charlotte was the Monegasque Hereditary Princess, making her only son, Rainier, heir to the throne. Rainier’s family connection to the area stretched back to 1297 when an ancestor – Francois Grimaldi, nicknamed “The Spiteful” – seized the territory from the Genoese.
During his childhood, Rainier was sent off to boarding school in England. His first spell was on the country’s south coast at Summerfields in St. Leonards-on-Sea, and his second was in Stowe in the Buckinghamshire countryside. And in the casually cruel manner that English boarding school boys are so infamous for, Francois Grimaldi’s successor was given his own nickname at Summerfields. Yes, Rainier’s fellow pupils dubbed him “Fat Boy Monaco.”
Nevertheless, Rainier went on to finish his education in Switzerland and France, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Montpellier in 1943. The following year, the young man became heir to the Monaco throne after his mother, Charlotte, renounced her claim to the principality’s succession.
Also in 1944, though, Rainier threw his lot in with the Free French Army to fight a guerilla campaign against the forces of Nazi Germany. World War II was still raging in Europe, you see, and Hitler’s military might had been occupying France since 1940. Rainier served with distinction, too, and his bravery in action was recognized by his award of the Croix de Guerre – France’s military cross. Then, in 1949, Rainier succeeded to the Monegasque throne.
However, Prince Rainier’s new status brought with it a raft of problems. Monaco’s wealth had previously depended on the draw of its world-famous casino – but now there were rival gambling destinations aplenty close by in France. On top of that, many of the formerly high-spending aristocratic gamblers found themselves in straitened circumstances after the conclusion of the war.
So Prince Rainier needed to find ways to make fast money. That’s why he developed a strategy to turn Monaco into a tax haven to attract both investors and tourists. One of the most powerful speculators this move attracted was the fabulously wealthy Aristotle Onassis, later to wed Jackie Kennedy. And the Greek shipping tycoon apparently had a cunning plan to put to Rainier. His scheme? The prince should find a Hollywood beauty to marry. It is said that Onassis believed the resulting global publicity would put Monaco well and truly on the world map, garnering rich foreign investment and increased tourist numbers.
According to contemporary reports, feelers were even put out to the legendary Marilyn Monroe in Rainier’s search for a star. She is said to have reacted scornfully, however. With her habitual chutzpah, Monroe’d said, “Give me two days alone with him and of course he’ll want to marry me.” At least that was how it was reported in an obituary for Prince Rainier published in U.K. newspaper The Daily Telegraph in April 2005.
All of which brings us to the union of Kelly and Rainier. So, in 1955, Rainier spent three days with Grace Kelly in Pennsylvania and promptly proposed to her. The couple agreed to a wedding date in April 1956 – but there were seemingly still some financial details to sort out. And, allegedly, how much cash Kelly would bring to the marriage emerged as the key question. At first, though, Kelly’s father was said to be distinctly and understandably reluctant. According to The Daily Telegraph obituary, the millionaire maintained, “My daughter doesn’t have to pay any man to marry her.”
But both parties reportedly settled on a dowry figure of $2 million. Whether that much was spent on the extravagantly opulent wedding is a moot question. Although Kelly and her family did sail to Monaco aboard the SS Constitution accompanied by a reported 80 pieces of baggage and Oliver – the star’s pet poodle. At the time, a reporter from The Boston Globe wrote, “Never have so many women brought so much luggage to such a small country for so few days.”
But the female members of the Kelly party had to pack for two weddings – a civil ceremony on April 18 and a religious affair the day after. The first wedding reception was graced by 3,000 Monegasque guests, while a more modest 700 attended the second, more exclusive, event. Yet that last wedding-list number boasted the names of contemporary Hollywood royalty such as Ava Gardner and Cary Grant.
Prince Rainier and his Princess were subsequently married for 26 years, but the jury is out as to whether or not they were ever happy. Notably, the often sensationalist celebrity biographer Wendy Leigh has claimed that Kelly’s royal marriage was a gilded cage for the one-time star – and one that made her utterly miserable. In 2007, following the publication of Leigh’s book True Grace, the author spoke to U.K. tabloid the Daily Mail. “Grace was humiliated, and she was extremely unhappy,” she explained. “She was surrounded by decadence and Rainier’s disreputable friends.”
On the other hand, it could be claimed that Rainier and his bride enjoyed a relatively comfortable marriage. They even had three children – princesses Caroline and Stephanie and Prince Albert II – and Kelly busied herself with charity work. The strategy of promoting Monaco with a Hollywood marriage proved to be a roaring success, too. It was thought that about 30 million of the Earth’s inhabitants had tuned in to watch the royal wedding live on TV.
Yet there is no doubt that the marriage ended with a tragic accident. On September 13, 1982, the Princess of Monaco was driving herself and daughter Stephanie back to the principality after a break at the family’s country home in France. Kelly then suffered a minor stroke at the wheel, and the car plunged 120 feet off a cliffside road. Thankfully, Stephanie recovered from her injuries – but her mother died the next day, at the age of 52. Prince Rainier died almost 23 years later, in April 2005, at the grand old age of 81, having ruled over Monaco for almost 56 years. He was buried next to Kelly, and the truth behind the dowry demand went to the grave with him.
Hollywood marriages are endlessly fascinating to the public, of course. Take Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. They were once the most glamorous couple in Hollywood. But as the A-listers learned, you need more than impossibly good looks to make a marriage work. And after 12 years together – and amid a cloud of speculation – the pair nicknamed Brangelina famously went their separate ways. So, what exactly went wrong? Well, Jolie has since opened up about the end of her marriage – and what she had to say was heartbreaking.
As fans know, Jolie and Pitt first got together in arguably the most tabloid-baiting way possible. The two initially encountered each other on the set of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, when Pitt was of course still wed to Friends star Jennifer Aniston. And rumors soon surfaced that the action comedy’s stars had embarked on an affair during filming – something that Jolie furiously denied.
In any case, Pitt and Aniston divorced in October 2005 – just three months before Jolie revealed that she was expecting the Fight Club actor’s child. She and Pitt would eventually have six kids together, including three adopted children. And after nearly a decade together, they finally walked down the aisle at a ceremony in the French region of Correns in 2014.
Sadly, married life didn’t seem to suit the once-happy duo, as in 2016 they announced their separation. And Jolie and Pitt officially divorced three years later, following lengthy and often fraught discussions about their custody arrangements. But why did it all come crashing down?
Well, as the daughter of Hollywood legend Jon Voight and occasional actress Marcheline Bertrand, Jolie was perhaps always destined to end up on the big screen. She first caught attention as a model, however, before honing her acting talents at NYU and the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. And Jolie’s film debut as an adult was rather inauspicious; she had just a minor part in maligned sci-fi sequel Cyborg 2.
Jolie had her big break in 1995, though, when she starred opposite future husband Jonny Lee Miller in the cult classic Hackers. And over the next few years, her hard work paid off in spades. The star scooped a Golden Globe for her portrayal as the eponymous governor’s wife in George Wallace; she also picked up an Emmy nod for her leading role in Gia. Further success beckoned, too, after she joined the all-star casts of both Playing by Heart and Pushing Tin.
Then, in 2000, Jolie’s stock rose even higher when she was awarded Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars for her performance in Girl, Interrupted. Capitalizing on her win, she scored a box-office hit with the fast and furious caper Gone in Sixty Seconds. And in 2001 the actress headlined a blockbuster, appearing in the iconic role of Lara Croft in the first of two Tomb Raider adventures.
An in-demand Jolie then appeared alongside Colin Farrell in historical epic Alexander and Jude Law in sci-fi Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Her prolific streak continued after that, too, with a part in Taking Lives and a voiceover gig in Dreamworks animation Shark Tale. But in 2005 Jolie landed a role in the film that would ultimately change her life. This, of course, was Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
And after adding to her filmography with parts in The Good Shepherd and Beowulf, Jolie received further awards recognition for both A Mighty Heart and The Changeling. The likes of The Tourist, Wanted and Salt proved, however, that she could still take on more popular fare. Kung Fu Panda drew in audiences, too; Jolie voiced Tigress in the animated hit.
In 2012, though, Jolie proved that her talents extended beyond acting when In the Land of Blood and Honey hit movie theaters. The Bosnian war drama – which Jolie had directed – received positive reviews, as did her follow-up Unbroken. Her third directorial effort, By the Sea, was by contrast given a critical drubbing upon its 2015 release.
Jolie got things back on track in 2017, though, with First They Killed My Father – a challenging Khmer Rouge-era drama that picked up nominations at both the BAFTAs and Golden Globes. Then, two years later, she once again portrayed the eponymous wicked witch in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. With a worldwide gross of roughly $600 million, the 2014 predecessor to the fantasy flick had been the biggest commercial smash of Jolie’s career.
Yet Jolie’s eventful love life has often taken the focus away from her considerable talents as an actress and director. Her first high-profile romance came in the mid-1990s, when she began dating her Hackers co-star Jonny Lee Miller. And the pair ultimately said ‘I do’ at a ceremony in which Jolie sported a white T-shirt and black pants made of rubber. Bizarrely, she also used her blood to emblazon her top with Miller’s name.
Miller and Jolie separated just a year later, though, and were officially divorced in 1999. Still, the actress wasted little time in moving on. Indeed, in the summer of 2000, she walked down the aisle with another Hollywood actor: the much older Billy Bob Thornton. And the two’s eccentric behavior – famously, they both carried around each other’s blood in containers – provided the tabloids with countless stories.
In 2002 Jolie and Thornton earned extra column inches, too, when they revealed that they had adopted a Cambodian child. Just months on, however, the unlikely couple decided to part company, and in 2003 they officially divorced. And the following year, Jolie reflected on the break-up of her marriage to Vogue, saying, “It took me by surprise, too, because overnight, we totally changed. I think one day we had just nothing in common. And it’s scary, but… I think it can happen when you get involved and you don’t know yourself yet.”
But in 2005 Jolie became a bigger tabloid name than ever – and it was all down to Mr. and Mrs. Smith. At the time, though, the actress was only rumored to have become romantically involved with her male – and very married – co-star Brad Pitt.
And Jolie was apparently keen to put all the gossip to bed. In a 2005 interview with Today, she said, “To be intimate with a married man – when my own father cheated on my mother – is not something I could forgive. I could not look at myself in the morning if I did that. I wouldn’t be attracted to a man who would cheat on his wife.”
Nevertheless, the rumor mill went further into overdrive when Pitt and Aniston separated shortly after Mr. and Mrs. Smith wrapped up. And the relationship was confirmed in January 2006, when Jolie announced that she and her actor beau were expecting their first child. Shiloh Nouvel was born in the Namibian city of Swakopmund in May of that year.
Pitt and Jolie added to their family unit, too, with the 2008 births of twins Knox Léon and Vivienne Marcheline. The new arrivals took their brood to a total of six, as the pair had also adopted a Vietnamese three-year-old named Pax Thien in 2007. Jolie had previously taken in Maddox Chivan in 2002 and then Zahara Marley three years later.
But the couple dubbed by the world’s press as Brangelina took their time in walking down the aisle, as they only became husband and wife in 2014. And, unfortunately, the wedding ceremony – which took place on Pitt and Jolie’s French estate – ultimately proved to be something of a curse.
You see, while Jolie and Pitt had lit up movie theaters in their previous big-screen outing together, they stunk them up in 2015’s By The Sea. Also directed by Jolie, the highly intimate marital drama flopped with both critics and audiences alike. And The Washington Post’s Stephanie Merry was particularly damning about the flick, writing in her review, “Peeling back layer upon layer of exquisite ennui reveals nothing but emptiness sprinkled with stilted sentiments.”
Then, within a year of By the Sea’s release, its stars announced that they were separating. Pitt and Jolie took a further two years to sort out the custody arrangements regarding their six children. And in 2019 the once-luminous couple were officially no more.
Jolie first discussed her separation from Pitt in a 2017 interview with Good Morning America’s George Stephanopoulos. There, the actress – who had specified “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the divorce – revealed that she and her estranged husband were still focused on their kids’ health. She added, “We will be stronger when we come out of this because that’s what we’re determined to do as a family.”
Later that same year, Jolie also opened up a bit further in a chat with Vanity Fair. Of her marriage split, the star told the magazine, “It’s just been the hardest time, and we’re just kind of coming up for air.” Interestingly, though, she also admitted, “Things got bad. I didn’t want to use that word… Things became ‘difficult.’”
So, how bad did things get? Well, in 2016 Pitt purportedly got into a massive row with Jolie on a plane. The pair’s eldest child, Maddox, even had to step in and act as peacemaker, according to reports. And after that alleged incident, Pitt was then investigated by the FBI on child abuse grounds – although he was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing.
Furthermore, Pitt’s alcohol consumption was apparently a major cause for concern in his relationship with Jolie. In fact, in 2017 the actor even admitted to GQ that he “could drink a Russian under the table with his own vodka.” At that time, however, Pitt was also keen to state that he no longer relies on booze, adding that he didn’t “want to live that way anymore.”
Yet even following that admission, things continued to get ugly between Pitt and his former wife. In 2018 Jolie argued in court documents that the actor had been neglecting his child support payments since the divorce papers had been initiated. Naturally, Pitt’s legal team fought against that claim, asserting instead that Jolie was both using her kids to “increase the conflict” and to “manipulate media coverage.”
Pitt’s attorneys also argued that the star had given Jolie over $1.3 million over the previous two years. This money had apparently been used for security, travel expenses and therapy for the couple’s six children. It was said, too, that Pitt had loaned his ex a whopping $8 million to help her purchase a brand-new property in the U.K.
And Jolie alluded to the acrimonious split in a 2018 interview with People magazine. While accompanied by Maddox, the Oscar winner revealed, “I have had my ups and downs. I guess I am a little bit stronger. We all have our difficult times, but as a mother, you also have a responsibility first and foremost towards the kids.”
A candid Jolie then added, “[The children] are going through their formative years, and everything else comes second to that. I haven’t worked for over a year now because they needed me home. We’ve all been a bit in lockdown. I think they’re itching to get out in the world again.”
What’s more, Jolie appeared just as happy to talk about her failed relationship with Pitt while promoting sequel Maleficent: Mistress of Evil in 2019. Speaking to Madame Figaro, the actress revealed that since her split, she has been able to more often embrace her free-spirited side. “I feel like I’m coming full circle,” Jolie told the French publication.
During the chat – which was later translated by Lainey Gossip – Jolie also admitted that she felt slightly lost in the wake of the dissolution of her marriage with Pitt. She told Madame Figaro, “I do not know about destiny, but I’m certain that I’m in transition and this is a homecoming. I’m coming back to myself.”
Then, when Jolie was asked at what time she had found things particularly hard to deal with, she gave a heartbreaking reply. “I think it was at the end of my relationship with Brad and then when we separated. It was complicated; I didn’t recognize myself anymore. And I’d become – how do I say this – smaller, insignificant – even if I didn’t show it,” she said.
“I was profoundly, deeply sad. I was hurt,” Jolie continued. “On the other hand, it was interesting to tap into this humility and sense of insignificance. It’s a lesson I pass onto my children. The idea of renewal – and through it all, the possibility of joy. I had to rediscover the joy.”
A month later, Jolie discussed her private life once again in a chat with Harper’s Bazaar. And she told the magazine that her kids had been a huge source of support since her split with their father. “The part of us that is free, wild, open [and] curious can get shut down by life – by pain or by harm,” Jolie revealed. “My children know my true self, and they have helped me to find it again and to embrace it.”
Jolie went on to add, “[My children] have been through a lot. I learn from their strength. As parents, we encourage our kids to embrace all that they are and all that they know in their hearts to be right. And they look back at us and want the same for us.”
However, Jolie also seemed to imply that her ex-husband is still imposing some restrictions on her lifestyle. The star told Harper’s Bazaar, you see, that she “would love to live abroad and will do so as soon as [her] children are 18.” In the meantime, though, the actress is “having to base where [the kids’ father] chooses to live.”
Pitt is still situated in Los Angeles, of course, and the custody arrangements ironed out between him and Jolie mean that she can’t relocate far outside the city with their six kids. Nonetheless, the Maleficent star has claimed that she still wants her brood to develop the same sense of adventure as she has over the years.
Jolie told Harper’s Bazaar, “My favorite place is somewhere I’ve never been. I like to be dropped into the middle of something new. I enjoy being out of my element. I want the children to grow up in the world – not just learning about it, but living it and having friends around the world. Next year, we break ground on a home in Africa.”
In fact, Jolie even challenged readers to break from their old routines. She advised, “Don’t just be comfortable with what is generally accepted but find the new. Find your oxygen, your originality, your own voice. Live more fully. Rebel. Resist. Question. Be curious. Explore. Go outside what is comfortable to you. Say the thing you’ve been afraid to say. Put down this magazine and go and do one thing today you’ve never done before.”
And Jolie appears to be taking her own advice when it comes to her career choices, as she’ll soon be starring in her first superhero film. The actress will portray Thena in The Eternals, which is scheduled for release in late 2020. Before that, though, Jolie will appear as a bereaved mother in fantasy Come Away as well as the big-screen adaptation of Michael Koryta’s Those Who Wish Me Dead.