In her 52 years, Grace Kelly was many things: a Hollywood movie star, a fashion icon, an Academy Award nominee, a dedicated philanthropist and, of course, a Princess consort of Monaco. Today, almost 30 years after her passing, her legacy as a Golden Era icon lives on through The Princess Grace Foundation, which seeks to identify and assist emerging talent in theater, dance, writing and film by awarding grants specifically to American students.
"Princess Grace was someone who very passionately helped emerging artists in this country, but she did so very humbly and quietly," said foundation president Jon Turk, who has been involved since the organization launched just two weeks after Kelly's death. "Prince Rainier III [Kelly's husband] started the foundation in her name; he didn't want her connection to America to be lost. It is really the Grace Kelly Foundation, more so than the Princess Grace."
Nurturing new stars and providing quality arts education was something near and dear to Kelly's heart, a far cry from the 15 minutes of fame/reality television/Kardashian driven world of today.
"When we started we had the help of Hollywood heavyweights like Frank Sinatra, Carey Grant and Jimmy Stewart all bringing attention to it," Turk continued. "But over the years that generation has passed, and the focus has been more on the theater scene in New York. But we would like to have a stronger West Coast presence with the Hollywood stars of today."
The foundation works directly with schools and programs to finance scholarships, fellowships and apprenticeships and has awarded more than $8 million to over 500 young artists to help them realize their own American dreams. A few weeks ago, Turk and his team honored acting great Julie Andrews for her contribution to the entertainment industry.
“It was amazing watching the clip of ‘Sound of Music’ on the screen, and Julie was sitting at her table humming along,” he said.
But even with cache of the Kelly name, her Royal association, and involvement from her fellow Tinseltown legends, times have been tough.
"Today's economy has made it a little more difficult to fundraise, and we may not be a life-and-death foundation that is finding cures for diseases," Turk added. "But we are supporting young American artists, supporting them so they can still realize their dreams."