The Night Grace Kelly Surprised JFK in His Room

John F. Kennedy, confined to bed after painful back surgery in the mid-1950s, had a surprise visitor one night. A young woman stumbled into his hospital room and introduced herself as the new night nurse.

He didn’t believe her for a second.

Although they’d never met, he instantly recognized Grace Kelly – not yet a princess, but already a movie star – who’d been put up to the prank by JFK’s wife, Jackie, and her sister, Lee.

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Kelly, who became Grace, Princess of Monaco, in 1956, told the story to writer Paul Gallico in 1965. The interview, archived at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, was part of an oral history effort started in 1964 by Kennedy associates to chronicle his life and death.

A wonderful animation of an interview excerpt has debuted just in time for the late November commemoration of the 50th anniversary of JFK’s death.

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“I, for one, cannot believe that a man of Mr. Kennedy’s stature and achievements was put upon this earth for no other reason than to stop an assassin’s bullet,” the princess tells Gallico. “I believe that God allows these certain tragedies to happen, in order to emphasize the man and his achievement, and to inspire those who follow to have the strength and will to accomplish his unfulfilled dreams.”

>> Discussion: Which celebrity do you resemble?

This video is part of a larger project to rescue lost interviews and foster collaboration between journalists and animators such as Patrick Smith, who drew the Kelly piece. It’s organized by Blank on Blank, a multimedia nonprofit, in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios and the audio team at PRX, the Public Radio Exchange. In the past year, they’ve created animated shorts based on interviews with Fidel Castro, Louis Armstrong, Kurt Cobain, Wilt Chamberlain and Janis Joplin, among others.

For more on the Kennedy anniversary, visit our JFK home page here.

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