The problems with 'Grace' and the delicious truth about the jet set era.
If the upcoming movie "Grace of Monaco'' keeps getting super-bad publicity, it may well create an underground demand for this outrageous movie, which I hear from my friend, Harvey Weinstein, the film's producers would rather downplay than play up. But how can they, when the movie will open the Cannes Film Festival on May 14? (Word of mouth is "Grace of Monaco'' is not even "campy fun,'' which would at least guarantee some interest.)
An actress I like and admire, Nicole Kidman, stars in this movie and is said to bear very little resemblance to the super-glamorized Grace Kelly, who deserted films back in the '50s to become Prince Rainier's fairytale "princess.'' At the time, Grace gave up an already very sexy and entertaining life, kissing the likes of Clark Gable and Bing Crosby, and winning an Oscar. She was at the peak of stardom when she gave up her acting career and became a princess. Hollywood had been a snap for the demure-looking blonde from Philadelphia.
At the time, the Golden Greek Aristotle Onassis (pre-Jackie Kennedy), owned the Societe des Bains de Mer, which meant owning Monaco itself. It was a tiny enclave on the edge of the French Riviera that had been created for escape from taxes. And everybody began to go to Monaco to gamble and shop and join what was coming to be called "The Jet Set.''
I keep telling people that the Grimaldi family in place at the Palace of Monaco was Johnny-come-lately among many European titles. The press always refers to them as "royalty,'' but, in my opinion, they were about as royal as Royal Crown Cola.
If they were anything, they were mere serene highnesses, as my then boss, Igor Cassini, always told me. His brother, movie costume designer, Oleg, had almost married Grace Kelly himself. The Cassinis knew history and titles. Both brothers spent a lot of time helping to further the glamour of Monaco and Igor feathered his own nest as an international columnist for the then-powerful Hearst newspapers. (I was just a ghostwriter for him.)
You can read all about these realities in the coming June book titled "Jet Set: The People, the Planes, the Glamour, and the Romance in Aviation's Glory Years.'' William Stadiem's work is comprehensive, all about this booming aviation era facilitated both advertising and publicity and everybody began to worship The Jet Set and tried to become a part of it.