The Oscar winner-turned-royal drove her her car off a cliff near Monte Carlo

By Monique Jessen
September 14, 2020 12:36 PM
Grace Kelly, Prince Rainier
Grace Kelly on her wedding day
| Credit: Mondadori/Getty

Princess Grace of Monaco died on this day 38 years ago.

The American Oscar winner, who became a princess after marrying Prince Rainier of Monaco, suffered a stroke driving home to Monaco with her then 17-year-old daughter Princess Stephanie on September 13, 1982. Losing control of the car, she drove off a steep mountain, plummeting 100 feet down a ravine and tragically died from a brain hemorrhage the next day at age 52.

Stephanie, who survived after suffering concussion and a fractured vertebra, spoke about the effect of her mother's death in a 2015 interview with French publication Point de Vue.

“After I got over my anger, got past the sense of injustice that was inside me, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I said, ‘Wait! Logically, you should have died too,’ ” she said. "If I was kept alive, it was for a reason. You have a place in this world. You have to find it."

Born Grace Patricia Kelly in Philadelphia on November 12, 1929, Kelly starred in her first film, Fourteen Hours, at age 22. Best known for her roles in the Alfred Hitchcock classics Dial M for Murder and Rear Window, Kelly won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in The Country Girl, the year before her fairytale wedding to Rainier in 1956.

Princess Grace of Monaco
Princess Grace of Monaco and Prince Rainer III on their wedding day in 1956
| Credit: Thomas McAvoy/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty

Revered for her chic, understated sense of style, Grace became Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco and gave up her acting career. She went on to have three children with Prince Rainier: Caroline, Albert and Stephanie.

Princess Grace holding her baby son Prince Albert in 1958

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Prince Albert, the reigning head of Monaco, has also spoken of healing after the death of his mother.

“It always takes a while; you recover thanks to your other family members and to your friends and to people who are dear to you who can provide comfort. It also takes a few years to really come to terms with it,” the now 62-year-old royal dad said in a 2017 interview.

As for his dad, who died in 2005, Albert says he never recovered from the death of his iconic wife. “He was deeply affected, and he wasn’t quite the same man as he was before the accident.”

Grace Kelly funeral
Princess Grace of Monaco's Funeral at the Monaco Cathedral on September 18, 1982
| Credit: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty

On the day of her funeral, she was mourned by Nancy Reagan, Princess Diana and Cary Grant at the Monaco Cathedral during a 75-minute service watched by approximately 100 million people.