Cover of Princess Grace Event Program
Prince Albert & Princess Charlene at Saturday Montblanc event! Getty Images
I met Grace Kelly several times. It was the mid '50s,
and I was the publicity guy for the Newport Jazz Festival,
an iconic event held every summer in Newport,
Rhode Island. Started in '54 by a Boston jazz pianist
named George Wein, it was originally held on farmland
owned by Elaine and Louis Lorillard of the cigarette
family. It quickly became a gentle monster of a music
event and moved to the city stadium, where it
continued until crowd riots in '61 ended the original version. I received
a phone call from an executive at MGM Studios in
Hollywood saying they were making an all-star movie
called High Society which was set at the Newport
Jazz Festival and they needed an expert on that event. I
spent several weeks on the set, never really
contributing anything to the film, which was
entirely photographed on the sound stages.
The picture starred Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and
Grace Kelly. It was her last film before she married
Prince Rainier III of Monaco and became Princess Grace,
the consort, and it was released three months after
her marriage. Producer Sol Siegel payed Cole Porter
$250,000 for an original musical score ("True Love,"
I hung out with Louis Armstrong, playing himself, and we planned his 75th
birthday party at Newport the following July 4th
at Newport. And several times I was introduced to
Grace on the set. Enchanted by her, as was every man
who came into her ken. Every man.
All of this came back to me yesterday at the Hotel Bel-
Air, where Montblanc publicist Caroline Graham and
partner Charlie Windisch-Graetz assisted Montblanc
International with a huge brunch party to introduce the Collection Princess Grace De Monaco Montblanc of watches, jewelry and pens as a
benefit for the Princess Grace Foundation USA.
Coincidentally, I had dinner last night with Leslie
and Evie Bricusse, who are
part-time residents of Monaco and close friends of
Prince Albert, Grace's son and head of the foundation.
Prince Albert and wife Charlene arrived at the collection
mid-afternoon and she left with a stunning pair of
Montblanc earrings. The collection of time pieces,
and writing instruments is beautiful, embellished with
filigree petal-cut stones honoring the Grace de Monaco
peach rose, created in 1956 on the occasion of her
wedding. (Florist David Jones created the large floral
arrangements for the event -- Jones had designed Grace's
wedding bouquet.) Caroline told me that in its 29 years the
Foundation has awarded over $8.5 million to nearly 600
theatre, dance and film artists in the U.S., with
Montblanc now contributing significantly to the
Foundation. In the '80s, I visited the Cathedral in
Monaco and bowed my head at the crypt where Grace
is buried. Lovely memories of a rare, gracious and
spiritual woman. And I left the event yesterday with a
splendid bottle of Montblanc eau de cologne.
David Niven, Jr. and astronaut Buzz Aldrin at the event.
Chef Wolfgang Puck supplied the food for the Montblanc event.
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