“Grace Kelly Tea” Celebrates Royal O.C. Summer Resident

first_imgBy Maddy VitaleShe was a beauty. She was elegant. She was classy and one of the most sought after actresses of her day, albeit before she became a real-life princess.And for Ocean City residents, Grace Kelly, whose family had a summer home in the resort, she was a part of the community, and their own claim to royalty.“Grace Kelly was Ocean City’s brush with royalty,” said Carol Dotts, interim executive director of the Ocean City Historical Museum. “She was an iconic beauty, had an amazing persona and delighted everyone with her breathtaking ability to captivate the audience.”In 2015, Dotts and other members of the Ocean City Historical Museum created “Grace Kelly Tea” to celebrate the life, movie career and the history of Ocean City’s most famous summer resident.And on Wednesday more than 150 people attended the annual tea at the historic Flanders Hotel.Grace Kelly in front of her family’s house at 26th and Wesley (Photo credit Associated Press)Kelly, born in Philadelphia, vacationed at her family’s Ocean City home at 26th Street and Wesley Avenue nearly every summer.She continued to come back to Ocean City to visit, even after becoming the Princess of Monaco in 1956 when she married Prince Rainier III.Kelly gave up acting, but her movies are some of the most memorable of the 1950s, movie buffs say. Sadly, she died from injuries sustained in a car accident in Nice, France, just outside Monaco in 1982.Historian Al Crescenzo was the featured speaker Wednesday, sharing compelling facts and interesting tidbits about Kelly’s career with the audience.A piano and sax prelude to the event was performed by Stephen Gring and Joseph Stefano, respectively.Women were dressed in chic, Kelly-inspired Hollywood fashions, pastel colors and hats. The few men in the audience sported classic sports jackets. One man even wore white gloves to the affair. The fare was scones, finger sandwiches and desserts and a blend of teas.Crescenzo told a rapt audience that Kelly gave an Oscar-winning performance in “The Country Girl,” opposite William Holden.Although she was dressed down with no makeup, she was compelling in her performance and won against some tough competition that year, Crescenzo said.Grace Kelly movie advertisements are arranged on tables outside of the crystal ballroom at the Flanders Hotel.But the movie that put her on the map as one of the top Hollywood stars was in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window,” opposite Jimmy Stewart.But it was at Hitchcock’s direction in “Rear Window” that she truly shined, Crescenzo pointed out.“He darkened her hair and her lipstick and eyebrows. He made her hair longer and looser to bring out her sensuality,” he said.“This sequence made her a star,” he said, while showing the audience the movie scene when she moves in for a slow kiss after playful banter with Stewart. “This is exactly what Hitchcock wanted from her and it made her a star.”An early film for Kelly was “High Noon.” While critics did not relish her performance in the role, with one dubbing her “wooden,” Crescenzo said the audience did like her and the performance gave way to fan clubs.Carol Dotts, (red hat) next to featured speaker, Al Crescenzo, and other members of the Historical Museum’s Grace Kelly committee.Crescenzo played portions of Kelly’s movies that showcased her elegance and grace.He noted that Kelly turned down several big films including, “On the Waterfront,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “Giant.”He explained that she was in her early to mid-20s for her short career, and many of her roles were opposite men who were much older than she. Gary Cooper was about 25 years her senior when playing in “High Noon.”“The Swan,” with “Alec Guinness,” was not one of her best, Crescenzo said. It was not because of her performance, she even learned to fence for the movie, but the two stars lacked chemistry.Her last role before retiring from acting was in “High Society.” She even showed she could sing during a scene with Bing Crosby.Crescenzo noted that there were movies she was asked to do later on to possibly pull her out of retirement, but she turned them down.Other movies she was in showcased her outfits. “She wore khaki for the entire movie,” he said of her role in “Mogambo,” which was opposite Clark Gable.She was asked to do the role, he pointed out, because the director felt she had “quality, class and good breeding.”Guests wear elegant attire for the occasion.Crescenzo also played a segment of “To Catch a Thief,” where Kelly is in a kissing scene with Cary Grant.“That scene was filmed not too far from Monaco,” he told the audience.Despite the passing of time since her death and the many years since she was last in Ocean City, the resort still considers her the hometown royal.The Ocean City Historical Museum, housed inside the Community Center, 1735 Simpson Ave., features an exhibit dedicated to all things Grace Kelly, including an exact replica of her wedding gown.For more information about events by the Ocean City Historical Museum visit www.ocnjmuseum.org. Carol Dotts points to the replica of Grace Kelly’s wedding gown on display in the permanent exhibit. “Grace Kelly Tea,” an annual fundraiser that was held at the Flanders Hotel in 2018, celebrates the movies of the royal Ocean City summer resident.last_img read more