They seemed to have it all - glamour, power, wealth and adoration. Grace Kelly, Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn, Indira Gandhi, Madame Chiang Kai Shek... they were worshipped, loved and sometimes even feared by millions the world over. These were the pioneers who showed that a woman could be the equal of any man. But behind the public success, there was so often private heartache and personal tragedy. Featuring archive, interviews and dramatic re-enactment, this series reveals the price these extraordinary women paid for their achievements. Yet in the end, they overcame all adversities to emerge as triumphant, inspirational icons of the 20th Century.
Grace Kelly (#104Z) Duration: 48:31 STEREO TVG
Grace Kelly had a privileged upbringing in Philadelphia, in fact, she was born to be a princess. Even her maternal grandfather was born in a German Castle. But the young Grace was quiet and sensitive and spent her childhood struggling to win her Irish-American father's approval. She was determined to find the success and independence that she hoped would impress him. By her teenage years, Grace had blossomed into a beautiful woman, picking up modelling jobs in order to finance her acting studies. Never short of wealthy male suitors, Grace was at the heart of New York's social scene and even received a marriage proposal from the Shah of Iran. As her acting and movie career flourished, so she began a string of affairs with her co-stars including Gary Cooper, Clarke Gable, Ray Milland and Bing Crosby. She was attracted to older men who were often married. Three successful performances sealed her place as Alfred Hitchcock's favourite actress; the definitive Hitchcock blonde who was the image of virginal beauty yet brimming with sexuality. Her decision to play a dowdy housewife in The Country Girl would reward her with the Best Actress Academy Award in 1955. But Grace's life would take an even greater step up when she caught the eye of the eligible Prince Rainier of Monaco, that same year. In 1956, the couple were married in a spectacular MGM-produced Wedding. Grace Kelly looked every inch the princess... but the marriage wouldn't live up to the fairy-tale. Over the coming years there would be moments of happiness including the birth of two daughters and a son. Grace helped revive the ailing principality as Monaco became a thriving hub for the rich and famous. Princess Grace's charity work was widely respected and she gained the enduring love and adoration of the Monegasques. But there would also be persistent rumours of affairs on both sides, and as the children grew up, they only added more stress to a troubled marriage. Grace's untimely and mysterious death in 1982 brought a tragic end to the life of the Princess of Monaco and a Hollywood icon.
Coco Chanel (#102Z) Duration: 1:08:20 STEREO TVG
She was an illegitimate child, born into a poorhouse and abandoned in an orphanage, but Coco Chanel rose from unimaginable poverty to create the most iconic fashion brand of the 20th century, The House of Chanel. With steely ambition, she took advantage of wealthy lovers, rose to the top in a male-dominated world, and created a style of clothing that changed the face of women's fashion forever. She encouraged women to dress comfortably, with simplicity and for themselves, rather than their men. Starting with a modest hat shop in Paris, an Empire grew and the House of Chanel came to epitomise luxury and style. Yet behind the success, lay a hidden story of wartime collaboration with the Nazis and a lifetime of disastrous affairs with unsuitable lovers, including the Duke of Westminster, Russian composer Igor Stravinsky and Nazi spy Hans Gunther von Dincklage. Always a mistress, never a wife, Coco's longing for love nearly cost her everything. Yet at the age of 88, when she died at her Ritz apartment in Paris, Coco Chanel was officially still working. She triumphed over the adversity of her lowly birth and two world wars, and clung onto her fashion empire which, to this day, continues to be successful and respected the world over.
Martha Gellhorn (#105Z) Duration: 48:59 STEREO TVG
Martha Gellhorn became a war correspondent almost by accident when her lover, Ernest Hemingway, urged her to file a report from Madrid during the Spanish Civil War. She wrote about the innocent victims of the war: the civilians who lived in daily fear of being killed by bombs. It was the beginning of a remarkable career spanning some 60 years.
Until Martha entered the field, war reporting was dominated by male journalists but, through her fearlessness and dedication, she earned a place at the top. Unlike many of her contemporaries, she was motivated to write - not about tactics and statistics - but about the devastating effects of war on the lives of civilians. It was a theme she carried from Spain throughout WWII, to Vietnam and, much later, to America's wars in Guatemala and Panama. But Martha's success came at great cost to her personal life.
Audrey Hepburn (#109H) Duration: 51:16 STEREO TVPG
Audrey Hepburn was one of the most stylish women the world has ever seen, and she took Hollywood by storm. Winning an Oscar for her first major film role in Roman Holiday, she went on to star in the iconic Breakfast at Tiffany's and the huge box office hit, My Fair Lady. Her natural, effortless beauty charmed millions. Audrey was more than just a movie star - she was a fashion icon the world over. But behind the glamour was a life marked by tragedy and loss. When Audrey was just 6 years old her father walked out on the family. His abandonment haunted her for the rest of her life. She endured the horrors of the Nazi-occupation in wartime Holland, and aged just 12 years old, Audrey witnessed the deportations of Jewish families to the death camps.
Agatha Christie (#107Z) Duration: 50:19 STEREO TVG
Agatha Christie was the Queen of Crime Fiction. In a career that spanned more than half a century and two world wars, Agatha wrote 80 novels and short stories, creating such unforgettable characters as Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple. Revered as the 'Master of Suspense', Agatha Christie perfected the art of the 'whodunit' - and her mysteries were a masterpiece in misdirection. One of her many plays, 'The Mousetrap', is the longest running play in theatrical history.
It was Agatha's experiences in World War One that first set in motion a career in detective fiction - inspired by medicines, and especially poisons, when volunteering with the British Red Cross dispensing unit. Agatha went on to travel extensively across the Middle East, finding inspiration for many of her most famous books - 'Death on the Nile', and 'Murder on the Orient Express'.
But her dramas and mysteries were not just contained within her books. There were rumours of a nervous breakdown, an unexplained disappearance and an acrimonious divorce, made all the more painful by the death of her beloved mother. But Agatha Christie, a shy, clever and complex woman, set this all aside to become the best selling author of all time, alongside Shakespeare - selling over 2 billion books worldwide.