Both literally and metaphorically, Grace Kelly was the cinema's fairy-tale princess; beautiful, elegant, and impossibly glamorous, she transcended the limits of Hollywood aristocracy to attain the power and glory of true royalty. Born November 12, 1929, in Philadelphia, PA, her father was a wealthy industrialist while her mother was a onetime cover girl. Her uncle, George Kelly, was the Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist behind the plays The Show-Off and Craig's Wife. At the age of ten, she made her own theatrical debut in a Philadelphia-area production, and in her late teens she moved to New York, where she worked as a model while attending the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. After turning down a Hollywood contract for fear of being typecast as a starlet, Kelly began to work in television, and in 1949 she made her Broadway debut in a revival of August Strindberg's The Father. When Hollywood again came calling, she accepted and was soon cast in a bit part in 1951's Fourteen Hours.
In just her second screen appearance, Kelly co-starred in a certifiable classic, the 1952 Western High Noon. Curiously, however, she did not benefit from the film's success, and no other offers were immediately forthcoming. She agreed to a screen test for a role in Taxi! but was rejected in favor of Constance Smith. However, the screen test found its way to director John Ford, who tapped her for 1953's Mogambo. The result was a seven-year contract with MGM, as well as a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination. Alfred Hitchcock then enlisted Kelly's services for a pair of 1954 films, Dial M for Murder and the brilliant Rear Window; it was said that she was the perfect blonde the master director had been seeking throughout his career. She was now a major star, and when actress Jennifer Jones became unexpectedly pregnant, Paramount begged MGM to allow Kelly to take her place in 1954's The Country Girl. The studio initially refused, but she successfully battled for the role. The result was a Best Actress Oscar.