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Ninety Years of Grace: Who were Grace Kelly’s bridesmaids?


PHOTO CREDIT: BY METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER, PUBLIC DOMAIN, WIKI COMMONS

It has been over sixty years since fifties Hollywood Princess, Grace Kelly, wed Prince Rainer in a small civil ceremony making her a real-life Princess of Monaco.

On the 18th of April, 1956, Grace looked stylish and elegant as she exchanged vows and became Her Serene Highness Princess Grace Patricia of Monaco in a beige lace and dusty rose silk suit designed by Helen Rose. It was the religious ceremony, held the next day in the cathedral of St Nicholas, however, that was dubbed the ‘wedding of the century’. The pomp and pageantry of the day were aided by Grace’s procession of her maid of honour and six bridesmaids.

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With the wedding being attended by over 600 guests including famous faces such as Cary Grant, Ava Gardner, Gloria Swanson and Aristotle Onassis, and watched on live television by over 30 million people, the bridesmaids, chosen from Grace’s family and her most trusted friends, were undoubtedly nervous. Here, we take a closer look at the women who accompanied Grace down the aisle.

Margaret Kelly Davis

Grace’s older sister, known as Peg, took on the role of her matron of honour. Their younger sister Elizabeth was heavily pregnant at the time and unable to travel to Monaco for the wedding.

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Peggy’s daughter’s Meg and Mary Lee were also in the wedding party as flower girls. Peggy acted as one of five of the official witnesses the day before at the civil ceremony.

Bettina Thompson Gray

Bettina was a fellow actress and had been classmates with Grace at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and also her roommate at the Barbizon, a rooming house for women in New York where aspiring young models and actresses stayed.

Maree Frisby Pamp

Maree was a young divorced mother, whose connection to Grace went back to her pre-Hollywood days. The two became friends as teenagers when they attended Stevens High School in Germantown, Philadelphia.

Her friendship with the new princess continued long after the wedding with the two friends making frequent telephone calls and travelling together in Europe, Canada and the United States.

In 1997, Maree donated her yellow organza bridesmaid gown and hat to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where Grace’s wedding gown is also displayed.

She passed away in 2012 after an aneurysm.

Carolyn Scott Reybold

After winning a local beauty contest, at age 19, Carolyn took her $500 cash prize and booked a one-way ticket to New York City. The aspiring model took up residence in the Barbizon, where she was in the room next door to Grace. The two would listen to Louis Armstrong records and go to watch the ballet followed by drinks at the Russian Tea Room. Grace would later introduce Carolyn to her future husband, Malcolm Reybold. She would go on to have three daughters.

Carolyn’s life was plagued by mental health issues, and in 1989, she lived in a women’s shelter and went to the lady’s lounge in Bergdorf Goodman every morning to wash in the basin.

After her story was exposed in a national tabloid, her youngest daughter, Nyna Giles was able to track her down and convinced her to move into an adult home in 1999, after she was diagnosed with a heart condition. She died in 2007.

Her daughter, Nyna, co-wrote a book about her mother, The bridesmaid’s daughter: From Grace Kelly’s wedding to a women’s shelter – Searching for the truth about my mother which was released last year.

Sally Parrish Richardson

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Sally Parrish Richardson was a former actress who had studied with Grace at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and had been a former Barbizon resident. She retired from acting before travelling to Monaco to be in Grace’s wedding, following her own marriage.

Rita Gum Lumet

A stage and film actress, Rita Gam, was the most famous of Grace’s bridal party. Contracted to MGM, as was Grace, the two shared a one-bedroom apartment in Hollywood with another actress.

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She divorced her director husband, Sidney Lumet, and in 1955 and would later go on to marry publisher Tom Guinzburg, whose father founded Viking Press.

She remained a working actress for the rest of her life before dying of respiratory failure in 2016.

Judith Balaban Kanter

Grace and Judith met in 1953, at Judith’s wedding to Grace’s agent Jay Kanter.

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In 1989, she wrote a book called The Bridesmaids which documents her experience in the lead up to and attendance at the lavish royal wedding and followed the lives of the bridal party afterwards. While publicising the book, she told the Washington Post, “No matter what I did in life and what I accomplished, people were still fascinated. I understood and accepted it. We used to joke about it the older we got. We used to say to Grace, Someday we’ll all sit out on some porch in rockers at the Jersey shore with our shawls and canes, 108 years old, and someone will go by and say, oh, there they are, the bride and bridesmaids.’



About author

Kylie is a journalist whose words have appeared in some of Australia and New Zealand's best selling magazines. She has a strong interest in anything to do with the Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Sussex, Princess Diana or Grace Kelly. Kylie's personal wardrobe contains over 100 of the same dresses, shoes and clutches, seen on the Duchess of Cambridge. She also enjoys historical fiction set in the Tudor era. When not writing, you'll find her searching for Sydney's best brunch spot. Follow her on Instagram @theladywallace