Cinema: The Girl in White Gloves

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Fourteen Hours produced her first fan, a high-school girl in Oregon who started a fan club and kept Grace posted on new members. Grace thought it a hilarious joke. "We've got a new girl in Washington," she would cry in triumph. "I think she's ours, sewed up." In High Noon, her finishing-school accent sat awkwardly amongst the western drawls, and her beauty made little impact. What was more, from High Noon determined Grace Kelly got her first real self-doubts about her planned progress. Says she: "With Gary Cooper, everything is so clear. You look into his face, and see everything he is thinking. I looked into my own face, and saw nothing. I knew what I was thinking, but it didn't show. For the first time, I suddenly thought, 'Perhaps I'm not going to be a great star, perhaps I'm not any good after all.' " Grace hustled back to New York to learn how to make it show.

The "Too" Category. She was still learning (with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse) when 20th Century-Fox called her to test for a role in a film called Taxi. Dressed in an old skirt and a man's shirt on her way to class, "I walked into Gregory Ratoff's office, and he threw up his arms and screamed, 'She's perfect.' In all my life, no one has ever said, 'You are perfect.' People have been confused about my type, but they agreed on one thing: I was in the "too" category—too tall, too leggy, too chinny. And Ratoff kept yelling around, 'What I love about this girl, she's not pretty.' " But the producer did not like her, and another girl got the role.

Director John Ford saw the test, however, and wanted her for Mogambo. Even then, Grace did not come running. When M-G-M offered her a seven-year contract starting at $750 a week, she demanded a year off every two years for a play, and permission to go back to New York, instead of hanging around Hollywood, whenever she finished a picture. She was only 22, and all but unknown. But M-G-M agreed to her terms. Says Grace: "I wanted Mogambo for three things: John Ford, Clark Gable, and a free trip to Africa." In Africa, Grace picked up a lot of film technique from Ford and developed a hero worship for Gable. Ford was soon predicting that she would be a star. For her performance as the cool English wife stirred to sudden and thwarted passion for White Hunter Gable, Grace won a "best supporting role" nomination for the Academy Award.

Restraint & Control. M-G-M still seemed uncertain about what to do with her. But Alfred Hitchcock, also impressed by the Taxi test, snapped her up for Dial M for Murder, then for Rear Window.

Says Hitchcock: "From the Taxi test, you could see Grace's potential for restraint.

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