Frances Stevens: Even in this light, I can tell where your eyes are looking.
Frances Stevens: Look, John. Hold them. Diamonds... The only thing in the world you can't resist. Then tell me you don't know what I'm talking about.
Frances Stevens: Ever had a better offer in your whole life? One with everything?
John Robie: I've never had a crazier one.
Frances Stevens: Just as long as you're satisfied!
John Robie: You know as well as I do: this necklace is imitation.
Frances Stevens: Well, I'm not.
(From To Catch a Thief, 1955)
“The most extraordinary actress ever.”
That’s how Cary Grant described his friend and co-star, our beloved Grace Kelly. It’s easy to feel that love and admiration when watching the two on film together. Their on-screen chemistry was natural and undeniable, even though, much to the detriment of cinematic history, the classic romantic caper, To Catch A Thief, was the only time they shared on the silver screen. Their adventurous and seductive scenes together immortalize the roads and villas of the French Riviera, and took romance to new heights with one iconic moment after another.
As it turns out, their shared joy of working together and mutual admiration continued for the rest of their lives. While some working relationships end when the cameras stop rolling, Cary Grant and Grace Kelly maintained a lifelong friendship, with Cary becoming a frequent guest at Roc Agel after Grace Kelly became Princess Grace of Monaco.
His Favorite Leading Lady
Cary Grant noticed Grace’s talent long before they found themselves on-screen together. In an interview for the 1987 book by James Spada, Grace: The Secret Lives of a Princess, Grant described seeing her in her first films:
“I recognized her even then as a brilliant actress...She made it look so easy. Some people said Grace was just being herself. Well, that’s the toughest thing to do if you’re an actor, because if you’re yourself, the audience feels as though that person is living and breathing, just being natural, not ‘acting’ – and that’s the hardest thing in the world to do.”
Cary Grant started his Hollywood career in the 1930s as a vaudevillian, and by the 1950s, he was considered one of Hollywood’s definitive leading men. By 1955, he had broken with the restrictive studio system, compelling famed directors such as Alfred Hitchcock to lure him out of semi-retirement and meet his substantial salary requirements to secure his place in their pictures.
Because of this unusual freedom within the confines of classic Hollywood, Grant was able to pick his films and co-stars, and, pertinently, the female leads. Luckily, the role of John Robie was perfect for Grant, and from there, the rest was history. Alfred Hitchcock brought together his top actor and actress in his favorite location - the French Riviera. One can only imagine how much fun they had making this film.
Later, the legendary actor was quoted in Interview Magazine saying:
“I’ve worked with many fine actresses, but in my opinion the best actress I ever worked with was Grace Kelly. Ingrid, Audrey, Deborah Kerr were splendid, splendid actresses, but Grace was utterly relaxed — the most extraordinary actress ever.”
There truly was a special and undeniable bond between them.
Friendship with the Princely Family
Well after retiring from Hollywood, Princess Grace remained connected to her closest friends there, including co-star Cary Grant. He was invited to her wedding to Prince Rainier III in 1956 and forged his own friendship with the Prince, as well. According to an interview with Prince Albert II in the Daily Mail, Prince Rainier would recall memories of Grant visiting the family and telling jokes to the children. Allegedly, those jokes were often dirty ones--but Prince Albert insisted, "He was always a gentleman."
Once Princess Grace had established herself as the newest Princess of Monaco, Cary Grant and his family would regularly visit “The Rock” as a guest of the Princely couple, attending events and charity galas with Princess Grace and Prince Rainier. Their hospitality was reciprocated when Grace and Prince Rainier stayed with Grant’s family on their trips to California. Sharing quips and poking fun at Grant’s good looks, she is quoted saying "Everyone grows older, except Cary Grant."
As a Princess, Grace established foundations, hospitals, and orphanages for financial assistance and supplies. She held charity balls to support her many charity activities; she was a genuine humanitarian and philanthropist. Cary Grant would frequently be found by her side at these philanthropic events, whether it was the Monaco Red Cross Ball, started by Princess Grace in 1958, the 1971 Motion Picture and Television Relief Fund Gala, or the Dubnoff Center's "Gala Evening in Monaco" in 1981. Her philanthropic legacy was honored by her close friends and family, inspiring Prince Rainier III to create The Princess Grace Foundation-USA, which continues her mission of support for emerging performing artists.
Preserving Her Legacy
The untimely death of Princess Grace in 1982 shook the world. It also inspired Prince Rainier to gather some of Grace’s friends and admirers to create the Princess Grace Foundation-USA. Hollywood A-listers Jimmy Stewart, Frank Sinatra, Gregory Peck, Roger Moore, and of course, Cary Grant, were the veteran supporters of The Princess Grace Foundation, personally invited by Prince Rainier III to found the American Foundation. Cary Grant’s service as a Board Member continued until his passing, and his only daughter, Jennifer Grant, continues to support the Foundation to this day. Since 1993, in his honor, The Princess Grace Foundation - USA has granted the Cary Grant Film Honor, which has sponsored an emerging filmmaker every year; including Crazy Rich Asians director, Jon M. Chu (Film, 2001).
Did you know that Frank Sinatra played a significant role in establishing the Princess Grace Foundation-USA? Continue exploring our "Famous Friendships" series to learn more.
CREDITS: RALPH GATTI/AFP/GettyImages, Paramount Pictures