According to new documentary Grace Kelly: The Missing Millions, Kelly had to pay $2 million (approx £1.5 million) to the House of Grimaldi to marry Prince Rainier III of Monaco, which caused her to lose her entire acting fortune.
The documentary dives deep into the actor’s finances and how she had so little in her name when she died in 1982.
Kelly, who starred in Rear Window and High Noon, was the world’s highest-paid actress at the time, and earned approximately $1.5 million during a span of five years, which is around $15 million (£10,908,825 million) in today’s money.
“I think the dowry was a shocking thing, to pay $2 million, which in today’s terms would be $20 million,” Gemma Godfrey, a contributor to the documentary, told Express.
“It wiped out her entire savings, and the other half wiped out her inheritance. So really, when you think about what she sacrificed, she actually gave up her savings and her ability to earn as well.”
A dowry is a substantial monetary value given from either the bride or groom to their future spouse upon marriage. In certain nations, dowry has been prohibited because of the female death toll associated with it, however, the practice remains legal in Britain.
Kelly and Prince Rainier happened to meet at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival, where she was promoting her film To Catch a Thief. During the event, the actor was persuaded by the director of Paris Match magazine to participate in a staged photo-op with the prince.
The narrative of the documentary follows Kelly’s career from her teenage years in Philadelphia to her death in 1982, exploring the numerous ways in which she failed to get sufficient remuneration for her work.
The documentary explains that at the time she died, Kelly had only $10,000 to her name, alongside a solitary house in Ireland that belonged to her grandfather.
She got only $750 shooting 1953's Mogambo and $5,000 for the 1995 Hitchcock film To Catch A Thief, while her co-stars made $5,000 and $18,750 respectively.
The documentary also claims that the actor had three wills, out of which one was missing, and that they were unable to access the document.
“We’ve asked to see a copy but the palace said that it’s not publicly available,” said Godfrey. “They’ve told us that Prince Albert and his family don’t wish to disclose its content.”
At the age of 52, the actor tragically died of a stroke while driving back to Monaco from her home in Roc Agel, when her car was found plunged into a nearby gorge.
The documentary was aired on Channel 5 on 27 March.
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