Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: True Love

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight is the song: “True Love” with Bing Crosby & Grace Kelly.

It’s a little early for Valentine’s Day but I thought “True Love” would be a perfect song for the holiday.

Before she was a Princess, Grace Kelly was an actress. She was the new bride in “High Noon”. She was the wrongly accused in Hitchcock’s “Dial M for Murder”. She was a cheating wife in “Mogambo”. She was Jimmy Stewart’s girlfriend in Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”. As you can see, she was Hitchcock’s favorite before she went off to Monaco. Her final picture was a musical remake of “The Philadelphia Story” called “High Society” (1956). She played the Katherine Hepburn part. Bing Crosby did the Cary Grant role and Frank Sinatra played the Jimmy Stewart part.

One of the songs in “High Society” is “True Love”. Composed by Cole Porter, it joins so many other songs that became a part of what has been called The Great American Songbook. Before Chuck Berry, before the Beatles, before Bob Dylan, before Prince and Michael Jackson, there was The Great American Songbook. It consists of standards from the 30s, the 40s and the 50s. More than standards, these are often perfect songs, the music and lyric memorable. They set a standard for what a good song could be.

They were composed by some of our best composers of popular song. Some of the masters were Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and George and Ira Gershwin. And the songs have never gone out of style. They have been recorded by Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Linda Ronstadt, Willie Nelson, Michael Feinstein, Harry Connick Jr., Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett.

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Did Alfred Hitchcock have erotic dreams about Grace Kelly?

The Director’s wife of twenty years and more was not happy. She had gone onto the set of “Rear Window” for several times and each time, she caught Hitch eyeing his female star more than he normally eyed his female stars. It looked to her like there was love in his eyes. Then again, perhaps it was lust. But lust was not threatening. Alma could deal with lust.

As long as she’d known her husband, Alma knew that Hitch had a thing for blondes. But this was different. This Grace Kelly was becoming a fetish and Alma was concerned. She thought about this concern quite a lot for the next several weeks, several weeks when her beloved Hitch didn’t speak to her. He came home from viewing the rushes and grunted his way through supper, then showered and went off to bed.

What was she to do? she wondered. She had never been challenged for Hitch’s affections this way before. She began to lose sleep. She lost her appetite. Her hair started falling out. If this continued, she would end up as bald as Hitch.

The next time she went to the set, several of the cast approached her and complained about how long the movie was taking. Even James Stewart, always a gentleman and an actor Alma considered extremely nice, even James Stewart yelled at her. But Hitch kept delaying, demanding more and more shots, especially of the blonde actress.

Pretty soon Alma was spending more time alone. She had always enjoyed visiting Hitch’s sets. But now it was either stay away or bite her fingers off out of nervous frustration.

Then she saw it. It was just a little item in the newspaper. Not much of a thing at all. Some little showboat of a prince was coming to town. He had promised one of the local charities that he’d make an appearance for them.

Maybe. Yes, maybe. He was single after all. It was just then that she remembered Grace humming “Some day my prince will come” several times on the set.

Alma called up the actress’ press agent and told him how well she thought Grace was doing with the movie. “She might even get an Oscar for this one,” Alma said. “It’s her best work so far.” Then, just before she hung up, she let it drop. Perhaps it would be good p.r. for Grace and the film if she was seen with this prince. Hollywood royalty and real royalty, that would be the headline. And it would raise money for charity, which was something Hollywood always saw as a good thing.

Well, as you know, the rest is history. Grace and that prince were married and lived magically happily ever after.

But poor Hitch. He never quite recuperated. Sure, there was Eva Marie Saint and Doris Day and Kim Novak and Tippi Hedrun and Janet Leigh. But none were Grace Kelly.

For years, Alma wondered what it was about Grace that hit Hitch so hard. Why had Hitch broken her heart over a Hollywood starlet who would break his heart?

Then, in his eighties, Hitch became ill and passed into a coma. Only once did he wake up. As he lay there, staring at the ceiling, Alma begged, “Why Hitch? Why Grace Kelly?” Hitch did not answer.

Then, days later, as he was getting ready to pass on to that movie studio in the sky, he whispered one final word and died. The word he spoke softly into Alma’s ear was “MacGuffin.”