Frank’s getting pretty tired of Joe’s stories about transatlantic crossings but has allowed him just one more.
Last week we discussed the U.S.S. Constitution and its connection with film and TV stars. In 1956 a clever p.r. man at the company realized he could get the ship unprecedented publicity if he could convince Grace Kelly to sail to Monaco for her wedding to Prince Rainier instead of flying there.
The story goes that he called Grace’s mother and offered 50 free passages on the ship. Mrs. Kelly asked for 100. They settled on 75.
In any event the press reported that 66 members of the wedding party traveled on the ship. Supposedly up top 400 reporters tried to book passage on the crossing as well.
Miss Kelly also brought along the Weimaraner puppy she’d received as a wedding gift and Oliver, her pampered poodle.
When Grace and her party boarded the ship at New York’s Pier 84 on April 4, 1956, she was greeted by about 250 men and women from the press. Although she had intended to have a small press conference, she was overwhelmed and retreated to her cabin. Then it’s been reported that the press was escorted, in some cases bodily, off the ship.
It was an eight day voyage. Supposedly during the day the group rested and made last minute wedding preparations. In the evenings there were cocktail parties, followed by dinner and another party. The Kelly family and their friends were known to be fond of word games, cards, and charades.
On the morning of April 12, about 9:45, the Constitution dropped anchor in the Bay off the coast of Monaco and Prince Rainier’s yacht came to meet it. Bands played on the shore and on nearby boats. A seaplane dropped thousands of red and white carnations, the colors of Monaco, on the ships and crowds below. A gangway was extended between the the yacht and the ocean liner, and Rainier stepped forward to greet his fiancée.
The fairy tale proceeded.
Earlier that year in Hollywood Grace had completed her last film, High Society, which would be released three months after her wedding.
MGM had the perfect film to release on her wedding day. The Swan is the story of a princess in love with a commoner, who must give him up. But in real life Grace had married her Prince, and would stay with him until her tragic death in 1982.