Grace Kelly’s Secret Abortion?

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The author is no doubt sure the entire world, at least the part of it that cares, is rejoicing in the news of the births last Wednesday of TSH Prince Albert ll and Princess Charlene of Monaco’s twins, TSH Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, and his minutes older sister, Princess Gabriella Therese Marie, delivered, according to Levi Winchester writing for the December 10 issue of Britain’s Daily Express, by Caesarian section. Needless to write, Prince Jacques, owing to having been born with the right dynastic equipment between his legs, is Monaco’s newest Hereditary Prince, while his twin sister, at least for now, is likely destined to spend the rest of her life wondering what could’ve been. Hopefully her aunt, Princess Caroline, will be able to comfort her, and might even be able to advise Her Serene Highness on how best to overthrow her twin brother, should she be so inclined. After the rumored failed coup d’état attempts of her late great-aunt, Princess Antoinette, and aunt Caroline, perhaps little Gabriella’s hypothetical future third attempt will prove the charm.

Since the author’s on the subject of the birth of Prince Albert ll’s likely only legitimate daughter, he can’t help but notice Monaco’s ruler chose not to honor his mother by making Grace one of his daughter’s names. While Prince Jacques carries the name of his venerable paternal grandfather as his third name, the late Princess Grace, who was undoubtedly Monaco’s most famous princess consort, is curiously absent from the three names bestowed upon her latest granddaughter. If ever there’s a current hereditary ruler in Europe who can be described as a momma’s boy, it’s Prince Albert ll. As recently as 2009, when Piers Morgan briefly interviewed His Serene Highness during the filming of a documentary about Europe’s most glamorous tax haven, Albert’s eyes welled up with tears while responding to Britain’s most obnoxious journalist’s query concerning what he surmised his late mother’s assessment of him as a ruler would be. Could Prince Albert’s reticence to honor his mother’s memory by naming his daughter after her have anything to do with a certain conflicted shame he might feel for his dearly departed mater after having discovered one of her darkest secrets? While Rainier lll was no paragon of virtue, and Monaco’s current sovereign is lacking almost as much in the moral fiber department as his diet is lacking fiber in general, it’s Princess Grace whose long been rumored to have committed, according to the strictures of the Catholic Church, one of its penultimate sins while still an unmarried movie star in Hollywood. Monaco is, after all, among the world’s few remaining nations in which Catholicism is the state religion.

This sordid tale took place one year before Grace Kelly met Prince Rainier. Having literally just seen her in the film Mogambo, Oleg Cassini, an aristocratic Russian émigré fashion designer, fell instantly in love with Grace Kelly when he met her at a Los Angeles restaurant later that evening. According to Wendy Leigh’s True Grace, The Life and Times of an American Princess, Cassini immediately set out to woo her. A passionate man who in many ways was a more worldly, sophisticated, charming , handsome and certainly more in shape version of Grace’s future titled husband, it wasn’t long before he succeeded. By the time he joined her in Cannes for the filming of To Catch a Thief, Oleg, who Grace at first jokingly nicknamed “O Leg O Chicken” according to her friend, Betsy Drake, had willingly transformed himself into what Rita Gamm, another friend of Grace’s as well as one of her future bridesmaids, characterized as Miss Kelly’s “lapdog”. One month after filming wrapped in France, they became unofficially engaged.

Grace’s plan, as recalled by her friend, Rosemary Clooney, was to marry Oleg in a small, quiet ceremony in October, 1955. Despite her parents’ all too strongly asserted disapproval of their daughter’s beau, he had previously spent a disastrous weekend with the Kellys at their Ocean City, New Jersey compound, Grace was determined to marry him anyway, even going so far as to move in with Cassini once they were back in Hollywood. John Glatt writes in The Royal House of Monaco that there was a very simple reason why Grace was rushing with all due haste to the altar with her Russian beau: she was carrying his child.

During an interview that Glatt conducted with Cassini, Princess Grace’s former fiancée showed the author a letter she’d written him declaring categorically that she was ready to be his wife. This admission is all the more startling given that it was written several months after Grace’s mother had told the twice divorced Cassini in the presence of her daughter over lunch in New York that he was too much of a playboy, and would never meet with her approval as a prospective son-in-law. Given Grace’s complete love and adoration for her parents, which has been reiterated in every biography of hers the author has ever read, her determination to wed Cassini despite parental opposition only makes sense in the context of the devoutly Catholic and passionately conservative Grace’s all too fertile ovaries having given her no other choice. Grace, however, also had other, far more worldly considerations to take into account before marrying Oleg.

According to his interview with John Glatt, Grace’s family and her priest, despite the fact that Cassini had agreed to convert to Catholicism, weren’t the only people in her life opposed to her impending marriage. Her studio, MGM, and her agent also felt that Oleg’s racy past, he’d previously been married to actress Gene Tierney, would do irreparable harm to her pristine image. Deciding ultimately that she stood the risk of loosing too much by marrying her fiancé, she called the engagement off at the last minute and, according to Glatt and Leigh’s biographies, had a secret abortion.

The readers of this post might wonder why its author chose to put a question mark at the end of its title. The answer is that there are no verifiable details or attributed sources given in either of these memoirs concerning Grace Kelly’s alleged abortion. It certainly seems out of character for a woman in the 50’s as devoutly religious as Grace Kelly was to ensure her eternal damnation by terminating an unwanted pregnancy. Then again, it would also be out of character for an ardently Catholic young actress at that time to have an affair with virtually every married older male costar she was in a film with, yet the extensive, well documented testimonies of Grace’s surviving friends, lovers, and colleagues makes it all too clear that Grace gave into her sinful desires for usually married men all too often, as well as doing so both before she married her prince and after she herself had entered into holy matrimony.

When one reads between the lines of these two biographies, it can be surmised that the story of Grace’s abortion originated with Oleg Cassini himself. Although he refused to give John Glatt a definitive answer concerning the fate of their unborn child, he nonetheless acknowledged that such an unborn child existed. Anyone familiar with the logistics of writing a celebrity biography knows that sources will often divulge embarrassing information concerning the biographer’s subject provided the info can’t be directly attributed to them in the text of the book. Cassini could easily have struck such a deal with Glatt and Leigh whereby he told them that Grace had aborted his child on condition that he was not directly quoted as doing so. Certainly, Oleg was alive and well at the time Glatt’s book was published, and could’ve easily sued for libel if he felt the account of his relationship with Grace had been disparagingly fabricated in some way.

There’s also another possible explanation for this story: What if Oleg had an axe to grind with Grace and he’d made the story up concerning her abortion? Maybe she’d just miscarried, which is very much in the realm of possibility given the stress she was under at the time, or maybe this unborn child never existed in the first place? Oleg was unquestionably in love with Grace and wanted desperately to marry her. Furthermore, there’s also no doubt that it was Grace who ended their betrothal, and moved on with her life all too quickly. Not only that, but within a year of her breakup with Cassini she met and married a genuine prince. One could understand if Oleg was bitter over his loss of one of the most beautiful actresses in motion picture history, and jealously enraged at how splendidly she moved on without him. Perhaps he then concocted the story of her abortion as an act of posthumous revenge after her death; knowing it would cast a dark cloud over her legacy .

Clearly, and like so many other stories concerning the private life of Princess Grace, the author of this post has no definitive answers concerning this mystery, and frankly doubts he’ll ever get to the bottom of it. Part of the joy of uncovering the private reality behind the public facade of history’s most famous people is the investigation itself, and at the end of the day it’s up to the individual reader to decide the truth for herself or himself. As for Prince Albert ll’s decision not to name his latest daughter after his mother, the author has no definitive explanations for that, either. Ironically, both Jazmin Grimaldi, Albert’s illegitimate daughter, bears Grace as her middle name, while her equally illegitimate cousin, Princess Stephanie’s youngest daughter Camille Gotlieb, bears Kelly as one of her middle names. Hopefully these young ladies will leave legacies that would make their illustrious grandmother proud.