Written by: Cyriaque Griffon
Photographs: Solange Podell
She flaunted a legendary radiant smile and an unparalleled beauty. She also symbolized the epitome of an elegance that remains unrivalled. From a Hollywood silver screen siren to a status of the princess, her life started like a fairy tale or a Disney production. The story ended tragically on 13 September 1982. For the thirty-fifth anniversary of her passing, FAB UK wanted to pay tribute to the one who illuminated the screens of the movie theatres and then the Monaco scenery. Her star will shine forever in the firmament. She had a first name that suited her perfectly: Princess Grace of Monaco.
The then based New York photographer Solange Podell was selected among 3,000 candidates and won a round-trip to go and cover the Cannes film festival in 1972. She took there her now the most famous picture of Princess Grace of Monaco. She captured a magical moment to such an extent that the roundtrip ticket rapidly turned into a one-way ticket! Princess Grace liked the photos and wanted Solange to work for her. Solange settled in Monaco and became one of the few official photographers for the Principality. Over 5,000 of Solange’s photos are now archived at the Palace of the Principality for their historical value. This photo of Grace Kelly and the movie director Alfred Hitchcock deserves a story.
Hitchcock’s masterpieces of suspense often have a blonde in the forefront. Among them in the most memorable scenes, there was Tippi Hedren and her bouffant hairdo messed up by scary crows in the terrifying attic of The Birds.
Janet Leigh had a short life in the shower of a bleak motel in the landmark thriller Psycho and its screeching music. The schizophrenic and suicidal Kim Novak jumped from the top of a cursed bell tower in the final scene of Vertigo.
Eva MarieSaint is remembered for her suspenseful cliffhanger scene in North by Northwest. But there was another blonde who they say was undoubtedly Hitch’s most notable and iconic blonde: Grace Kelly. When she went to the French Riviera in 1955 for the shooting of To catch a thief, co-starring Cary Grant, she had already acted in two of Hitchcock’s movies, Dial M for Murder and Rear window. While in France for her third movie with Hitch, she met Prince Rainier of Monaco. She left Hollywood to marry her prince and was committed to her new life in Monaco.
In the early sixties, she was Hitchcock’s first choice to play the title role in Marnie and she longed for the day she would resume her acting career. Yet, the Principality objected to her appearing in a film as she was by then Princess Grace and thus had to be committed to her new title role: the Princess of Monaco. She subsequently had to turn down the role of the frigid kleptomaniac woman which would be offered to Tippi Hedren.
Grace Kelly never returned to the screen. She came out of friendship to meet her mentor who was at the Cannes film festival in 1972. Her final scene for Hitchcock was on the red carpet. To capture their reunion, the photographer Solange Podell, behind her camera, stood in for the movie maker.