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Grace Kelly

Arts, Music

Outbid By a Princess, Mick Moloney to be Reunited With a Royal Collection of Irish Music

Irish musician and folklorist Mick Moloney recalls a time when he was still living in Philadelphia, and L.A.H. O’Donnell, who had retired from EMI Records and lived in Chestnut Hill, contacted him with an intriguing offer: a vast trove of Irish-American sheet music.

“He was offering the collection for $3,000,” Moloney says. “Well, at the time, I didn’t have $300.”

Scholar that he was and is, Moloney looked about for another suitable home for the music, which hearkened back to the Tin Pan Alley days and a little before. No one, including the Smithsonian, had the budget. That was the last he heard of the music, although he never forgot about the offer.

Ten years later, when his circumstances had improved, he called O’Donnell again.

“I asked, ‘Is that collection still for sale?’ He said, ‘Mick, you’re one week too late. Someone just bought it.’”

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Monaco’s Search for Missing Brothers

Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly

The scholars who preside over Monaco’s audiovisual archives are looking for a few good men.

Local Irish will get the Monaco-Philly connection instantly, of course: the gifted actress and East Falls native Grace Patricia Kelly became princess of the diminutive principality upon her marriage to Prince Rainier in April 1956.

In particular, the Archives Audiovisuelles de la Principauté de Monaco is interested in photographs of the brothers of Grace’s parents John Brendan Kelly, Sr., and Margaret (nee Majer). The Kelly men include Patrick, Walter, Charles and Georges; and on the Majer side, Bruno and Carl, Jr.

The Archives “collect, restore, preserve and archive the audiovisual patrimony of Monaco, private and public,” according to spokesperson Sylvie Primard.

“We have in our collection documents from the early 30s, concerning Princess Grace’s childhood. Our present task is to index and archive these items, which means that we should try to describe these images as well as we can for future generations.”

The early childhood photos remain private and are not available for public view.

Missing from the Archives collection are photos of the Kelly and Majer siblings. Archivists touched base with this week in the hope that one or more of our readers might be able to help.

Should you know the whereabouts of any of these photos—hey, maybe your great-grandad went to St. Bridget’s on Midvale Avenue as a boy and left you with a stack of black-and-whites—let us know, and we’ll put you in touch.


Amazing Grace

Princess Grace of Monaco

Princess Grace of Monaco

Not too bad for a kid from East Falls.

Admittedly, Grace Kelly was not just any kid from East Falls, but the daughter of John Brendan “Jack” Kelly—triple Olympic gold medalist in rowing, and the enormously successful millionaire owner of “Kelly for Brickwork.”

The Kellys were no ordinary East Falls family—and, although the young Grace Patricia Kelly was regarded as quiet and withdrawn, she knew one thing for sure at an early age: She wanted to become an actress.

When she was 12, Grace landed the lead role in “Don’t Feed the Animals,” a play produced by the East Falls Old Academy Players. Later, tthroughout her years at the Stevens School, she continued to act. And when it came time to leave the Stevens School, she moved to New York to pursue her dream in earnest.

She enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and, by all accounts, devoted all her energies to her acting studies.

It didn’t take long for Grace Kelly to find her place in the footlights. She debuted on Broadway in Strindberg’s ”The Father,” which starred the formidable Raymond Massey. The then burgeoning arena of television drama soon beckoned. The hard-working Grace Kelly would go on to perform in nearly 60 live telecasts—an acting pursuit not for the meek or faint of heart.

Hollywood soon noticed what many people already knew well: This Grace Kelly was something special.

Her first film was “Fourteen Hours”—and not too many movie-goers noticed her. She continued to work in television and on stage—and then along came a role that everyone would notice. She was hand-picked for a co-starring role opposite the great Gary Cooper in the classic Western, “High Noon.”

The rest is Hollywood history. Fans will never forget her star turn in “Mogambo,” opposite the brooding Clark Gable, for which she earned her first Oscar nomination—for best supporting actress. In a career in which there were almost no missteps, Grace Kelly turned down the role in “On the Waterfront” that ultimately went to Eva Marie Saint. But it bears remembering that in the same year, she appeared in three of Hollywood’s best films—“Dial M for Murder,” “Rear Window” and “The Country Girl.” For her performance in “The Country Girl,” she earned the Academy Award fo best actress.

A string of movie successes followed, including “To Catch a Thief” and her last film, “High Society.”

But by the time of her last film, the girl from 3901 Henry Avenue was preparing for a new role in life. She had met Prince Rainier III of Monaco at Cannes in April 1955. A relationship blossomed. And in December of the same year Ranier traveled to the United States and proposed. On April 18, 1956, they wed in a simple civil ceremony in Monaco, followed the next day by a far more lavish religious ceremony. Grace Kelly’s movie days were over, but she seamlessly transitioned into her new role as Princess Consort of Monaco.

The world knew her from that point on simply as Princess Grace. As princess, she became renowned as a world-class humanitarian. She was the tirelessly devoted president of the nation’s Red Cross, and honorary president of AMADE-Monaco, a highly regarded non-profit child-advocacy organization.

No one in Philadelphia who knew of and loved Grace Kelly will forget September15, 1982—the day she died following a traffic accident. Her passing had a profound impact, not just in Monaco, but here in Philadelphia.

James Stewart delivered the eulogy at her funeral. He spoke for all of us when he said: “Grace brought into my life as she brought into yours, a soft, warm light every time I saw her, and every time I saw her was a holiday of its own. No question, I’ll miss her, we’ll all miss her.”

It would be easy to focus on her death. But far better to recall her astonishing and inspiring life.

Like we said: Not bad for a kid from the Falls.