Grace Kelly and Movie Night return

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OCEAN CITY – Back by popular demand, the Ocean City Historical Museum will host another Grace Kelly Movie Night on Friday, May 24.

Originally released by Alfred Hitchcock in 1954, "Rear Window" will be shown at 7 p.m. in the lecture room of the Ocean City Free Public Library.

The flick features a wheelchair bound photographer who spies on his neighbors from his apartment window and becomes convinced that one of them has committed a murder.

Jeff McGranahan, business administrator for the museum, said the murder mystery, nominated for four Academy Awards, should be a big draw because the late Princess, killed in a car accident 31 years ago, remains popular in Ocean City.

“We’re looking forward to hosting another Grace Kelly Movie Night,” he said.

Grace Kelly, also known as Princess Grace of Monaco, was a movie star, an American actress, a princess and a local legend.

Nearly 75 guests attended the inaugural Movie Night in October, 2012, which included a tour of the Princess Grace exhibit at the museum, including a replica of the dress she wore at her 1956 wedding to Prince Ranier, hundreds of pictures and other mementos, and a lively discussion about the Princess’s long time association with Ocean City.

Almost everyone had a memory to share and enjoyed reminiscing.

“It was a lovely evening, a classy, fun evening,” said OCHM President Ken Cooper. “We had such a nice turnout, and we welcomed a lot of new faces to the museum. We are hoping that a lot of people who attended the first event will return.”

“We’re very proud of our famous locals,” said Cooper, adding that the Museum has, from time to time gotten calls from the Palace in Monoco, asking questions about the Princess’s time in Ocean City.

“We have such a connection to Princess Grace; so many people feel that connection,” he said.

Beginning in the 1920’s, John and Margaret Kelly of Philadelphia built a summer home in Ocean City on the northwest corner of 26th Street and Wesley Avenue in 1931. They would later build a white brick home across Wesley Avenue on the beach in 1958.

The family, included Grace, Margaret, Lizanne and Jack.

John Kelly was a champion rower who won two gold medals in the 1920 Olympics. He was a successful contractor and generous benefactor to the city and the OCBP.

Grace spent her summers on Ocean City’s beaches, but by the age of 20, was headed for stardom. In 1950, she appeared in New York theatrical productions as well as in more than 40 episodes of live drama productions.

Cooper said she was a star during “the Golden Age of Television.”

In 1954 she was nominated for the Golden Globe Award and Academy Awards. She earned leading roles in five films, including The Country Girl, which earned her an Academy Award.

“She gave all of that up to marry Prince Ranier, she was 26,” said Cooper, adding that the princess continued to visit Ocean City, but not as often.

She suffered a stroke on September 14, 1982, lost control of her car and crashed.

“Grace Kelly was so pretty, so beautiful, and she was only 22 or 23 years old when that movie was filmed,” Cooper said.

People enjoyed seeing the family on the beach, the boardwalk or around town, Cooper said. Jack Kelly was a member of the OCBP and won a bronze medal in the 1956 Olympics, the year his sister married a prince.

“Jack competed at the 1948, 1952 and the 1956 Summer Olympics, he won a bronze medal, which he gave to Grace as a gift,” said Cooper.

Jack Kelly and Joe Reagan were the first Ocean City lifeguards to win the coveted South Jersey Lifeguard Championship.

“Up until 1950, Grace Kelly was just Jack Kelly’s kid sister,” said local historian Fred Miller. “The family was very involved in town. John Kelly was very successful and he was very generous. Anything the lifeguards needed he would supply.”

Miller, a retired OCBP lieutenant, served in the third zone where the Kelly’s maintained a home.

“When Princess Grace died, the city flew the flag at half-mast,” said Miller. “The family was a big part of Ocean City. They could have been snobby, but they were not. They were very, very friendly.”

“Princess Grace probably learned to be an actress by watching the movies at the Moorlyn, Strand, Village and Surf Theaters,” said Miller.


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