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Once Upon a Time: Behind the Fairy Tale of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier Hardcover – 1 Apr 2003

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books (1 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446531642
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446531641
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 4.1 x 23.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 250,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
Grace Patricia Kelly was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 12, 1929, the third of four children to John-better known as Jack-Brendan Kelly and Margaret Majer Kelly. Read the first page
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 April 2003
Format: Hardcover
I found what I guess is a copy of this book after seeing it serialized in a newspaper and read it in 3 days, never putting it down. I simply loved it. What a wonderful, wonderful book. J. Randy Taraborrelli, who wrote about Madonna a couple of years ago, has really found his royal subjects in Grace and Rainier. He treats them with such love and reverance, and there is no way to stop the tears several times along the way in this journey. And what a wonderful woman Grace was, according to this book. She so comes to life, I had dreams about her at night during the time I was reading "Once Upon a Time." She made some tough-love choices with her daughters, and I could relate to what she went through with Princesses Caroline and Stephanie. I miss her now, and didn't even know her. I recommend this book 100%.
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By Sparkle queen on 14 April 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I like reading about all these Hollywood Names and this one is very interesting I have quite a few on Gracie what a girl she was not at all the way she was portrayed or the marriage
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 69 reviews
72 of 73 people found the following review helpful
A Compelling Page-Turner 15 April 2003
By Dermott Cheshire - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I tend to be one of those readers who picks up a book from his bedside table and reads for a few minutes before drifting off to sleep. This book, though, kept me up for hours the first night I started reading, and the next day I carried it with me, stealing away moments to read more -- and I ended up finishing it before that day was through. "Once Upon a Time" paints a vivid portrait of Grace Kelly's incredible life, taking the reader on a journey through her early years (living for the approval of her dominant father) her whirlwind Hollywood life (that was far more complex than I'd ever realized) and the mysterious marriage to Prince Rainier of Monaco (which, while thrilling, in some ways broke her spirit). Taraborrelli's writing style, with short, concise chapters, keeps the reader flying at warp speed through the timeline of Grace's life, without sacrificing the specificity and detail one craves when cracking open a biography. As a Grace Kelly fan, I had been left disappointed by previous attempts to capture her life on paper -- but, thankfully, this book finally gives me a bit of real estate on my shelves devoted to the memory of this enigmatic beauty. The horrific death of Grace had haunted me, as it has many over the years-- but finally, after reading this book, I feel that enough of my questions-- about her life, her career, and even that terrible accident -- have been answered. The clarity of the storytelling in "Once Upon A Time", helped me put perspective on a life that would have otherwise gone misunderstood. I highly recommend it.
75 of 82 people found the following review helpful
By Gail Cooke - Published on
Format: Hardcover
To most of the world the wedding of Hollywood star Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco probably had all the makings of a fairy tale. There was a handsome prince in the appropriately luxe setting. As we now know if this particular fairy tale lacked the requisite happy ending. The beginning and middle were not a bed of roses either according to biographer Taraborrelli.
In almost 500 pages there is a great deal according to Taraborrelli, some of which seems questionable. The narrative is rife with assumptions, such as attributing thoughts to Grace with, "She may have been thinking" or "She would have been pleased." Or, his comment regarding a family member's statement, "....that sounds so much like one her mother might have made." All of these conclusions seem to imply an intimacy with his subject that the writer did not enjoy.
Further the dust jacket claims that Grace's thoughts and feelings regarding her wedding are revealed. Another claim to stretch credibility. Lastly, where was Taraborrelli's editor? To mention only one oversight: the wrong year for the death of Princess Diana is an all too obvious mistake.
Aside from those reservations Taraborrelli has done a yeoman's task of assembling the minutia of both subjects lives from Grace's Philadelphia birth to Rainier's loveless childhood to their less than eventful first meeting to the Grimaldi dynasty today.
Born to Jack and Margaret Kelly, a couple who yearned to be a part of the upper echelon of Philadelphia society, Grace was one of four offspring. She would spend her life seeking her distant father's approval. Handsome and gregarious, Jack always wore custom-tailored suits and was known as one of the biggest characters in the City of Brotherly Love. He pinned his Olympic hopes on his son, Kell, and doted on daughter Peggy, who was tough and smart. An outsider in the family circle, Grace sought comfort within herself.
When she was 18 Grace went to New York City and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Through dint of sheer determination and a modicum of luck she became a Hollywood star, eventually winning an Oscar for "The Country Girl." Even this did not impress papa Jack who at the time is quoted as saying that he thought Peggy might have received such an honor but never Grace.
Her movie years were marked by unhappy love affairs with Ray Milland and William Holden. (Taraborrelli claims that there was never a romance between Grace and Clark Gable while other biographers make the opposite assertion.)
In 1955 Grace attended the Cannes Film Festival. For publicity purposes it was suggested that she visit Monaco while in France and have her photo taken with Prince Rainier - a meeting that would dramatically alter the lives of both.
The Grimaldis have ruled the storybook principality of Monaco for over 700 years. One of the most sought after bachelors in the world, Prince Rainier well knew it was time for him to marry and produce an heir to the throne. While Grace, following adverse publicity concerning her affair with the married Ray Milland, concluded, "I hated Hollywood. It's a town without pity."
The pair met briefly, each expressing the wish that they might meet again. They did, indeed. Upon a visit to the United States the following year Rainier, described as a "shy, sometimes moody man," proposed to Grace and she accepted, despite her strong feelings for fashion designer Oleg Cassini.
In later years, when Rainier is asked whether or not it had been love at first sight, he replied, "No....I don't believe in love at first sight anyway." It is a wishy-washy expression, which I don't use."
Nonetheless, to the world theirs was a fairy tale romance capped by a fairy tale wedding. However, few in the world knew about the fertility test Grace was required to take, the dowry required, and the marriage agreement in which she relinquished all rights to any children the couple may have should the marriage end in divorce.
As if scripted, nine months following what was dubbed "The Wedding of the Century" Grace gave birth to Princess Caroline. Prince Albert and Princess Stephanie would soon complete the family circle. Of Prince Albert's birth Rainier said in a radio address: "Let us thank God for this new happiness, this proof of His special blessing."
Albert, called "Albie," may well have been a special blessing as in future years the girls would prove challenges to both parents as the princesses entered into short-lived marriages or bore children out of wedlock. Fodder for world tabloids their escapades brought embarrassment to Monaco's rulers.
It is said that throughout her marriage Grace yearned to return to acting, hoping to do so despite being told that was an impossibility for a Princess. It does seem that much later she derived great satisfaction from her poetry readings which received accolades.
At one time the Prince relented in the hope of relieving Grace's depression and encouraged her to play a role in Alfred Hitchcock's "Marnie." However, the citizens of Monaco did not share his view and Grace reluctantly withdrew from the film.
As the couple shared over twenty years of marriage we are told that Grace had accepted her position in Monaco, and grew to care for the people as they cared for her. Rainier, too, grew to appreciate the woman he had married, thankful for her companionship, wise counsel, and listening ear. Tragically, this happiness came to an abrupt end with her death in a car accident. It is said that Rainier has never recovered from his loss, saying at her funeral, "My life will never be the same.....Without Princess Grace none of it matters for me now. It's all meaningless. My God, it's all meaningless.
So ended not a fairy tale but a very human story.

- Gail Cooke
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Great Read 27 April 2003
By "juliefalcon2001" - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I have read every Grace biography available to me and own many of them. This one gave a very unique perspective, interviewing several of her "non-star" friends that I hadn't read about previously. The format of the book (short chapters) really was effective and relatively fast-paced. The treatment of her marriage was very deep and made you feel like you were inside her mind. I thought that the author was quite dignified, skimming over the early affairs instead of giving every gory detail. The only thing I did not like was, at times, it seemed like he was merely paraphrasing others' material, and he gave short shrift to some of Grace's girlfriends, referring to them only as "New York girlfriends" or "show business friends."
I am an English teacher, so I may be more picky than most. For example, I nearly screamed when I saw he placed Diana's death at 1996. THat's something that any fact checker should've found.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
SURPRISE! 16 April 2003
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I didn't know what to expect of this book. I loved Taraborrelli's "Jackie, Ethel, Joan" book, but I thought it was because of the subject, not the writing. Can you go wrong with the Kennedys? Not to discredit the author, but the Kennedys story tells itself, I thought. But with this book you see the true talent of the author, who brought so much to the story. J. Randy Taraborelli seems to be a nice person, and you sense that in his telling of Grace's story with such empathy and emotion. I truly felt her highs and her lows. It was personal to me, and I raced through this book. I love the way the author breaks his chapters down into little pieces, instead of long drawn out essays. For me, it moves the pace along. At first, I thought this should have been a Grace Kelly biography and am perplexed as to why it is a Grace and Rainier book, but in the end I felt so bad for Rainier I figured, yes, give him his due and put the ol' boy on the cover. I loved this book. It was so good. Thanks Amazon for giving me a chance to write about it.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Too Much Whitewashing of Rainier 30 July 2007
By Maattii - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Taraborrelli was clearly fascinated by his primary subject, Grace, but it appears it was Prince Rainier whom he truly fell in love with.

He never once mentions Rainier's notorious infidelities, which began as soon as Grace married him, and continued until she died. According to Wendy Leigh's new book "True Grace", she strayed too, but her affairs started off as quid pro quo for Rainier's constant mistresses (and continued from isolation and loneliness).

This omission is profoundly prejudicial to Grace because it makes it look like she was just too shallow to give up her attachment to her movie career and thus made herself morbidly unhappy with her new life in Monaco. In fact, she did struggle with that loss, but her greatest heartbreak in Monaco was that she married a philandering, obnoxious, overbearing, insensitive and dismissive popinjay of a prince.

Taraborrelli should have waited for Rainier's death to write Grace's biography. Maybe then he wouldn't have been so tempted to whitewash Rainier into the caring, tender, appreciative and supportive husband he most certainly was not.

Shame on you Randy.
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