THE SS CONSTITUTION, GRACE KELLY AND I LOVE LUCY…

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1955: Officers and crew assemble aboard the SS Constitution docked in Manhattan.

The SS Constitution was a passenger ship owned by American Export Lines. She was commissioned in 1951. She sailed on the New York-Genoa-Naples and Gibraltar route to Europe. The Constitution was a sister ship to the SS Independence.  The ships were two of the world’s most famous, popular, and innovative ocean liners, following World War 2.  They were symbols of American maritime design and construction. They were big, fast, and very comfortable.

Beginning her career in 1951, the Constitution was a new kind of ship for a new kind of traveler. Far less intimidating than pre-war ships like the French Line’s Ile de France or Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary, the ship was conceived with glamorous informality in mind. Unlike European steamship lines, American companies realized that indecipherable French menus and starchy staff had become off-putting to passengers. The owners of the new vessel, American Export Lines, meant to give their clientele a new, less demanding, kind of elegance.

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12th April 1956: American actress Grace Kelly on the way to be married in Monaco trying out the captain’s sextant on board the liner SS Constitution.

41d0yc3885l_sx320_sy240_.jpgThe Constitution was seen in several episodes of the television situation comedy I Love Lucy starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, starting with episode 140, “Bon Voyage,” which first aired 1 December 1955.

Lucy Ricardo missed the sailing of the ship and had to be ferried by air to the ship by  helicopter.

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The ship also played a prominent role in the 1957 film, An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant & Deborah Kerr.   Location – the pool on the Lido Deck. 

Following service on American Export’s “Sunlane” cruises to Europe in the 50s and 60s, the two ships sailed for American Hawaii Cruises for many years in the 80s and 90s; because they were US ships with US crews, they were able to cruise the Islands without sailing to a foreign port.

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SS Constitution being loaded at dock in New York City – 1950s. 

It was decommissioned in 1995 and, while under tow to be scrapped in 1997, sank 700 miles north of the Hawaiian Islands.

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About Michael L. Grace

MICHAEL L. GRACE is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. SNOOPY continues to be one of the most produced shows (amateur & stock) in America/Worldwide and has had long running productions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and in London's West End. There are over 100 individual productions every year. He has written movies for TV, including the award-winning thriller LADY KILLER, various pilots and developed screenplays for Kevin Costner and John Travolta. Besides co-writing and co-producing SNOOPY, he wrote and produced the one-man play KENNEDY. He produced P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD by pulitzer prize winning author James Kirkwood. He wrote the stage thriller FINAL CUT which had productions in the UK, South Africa and Australia. His one-man play, KENNEDY - THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH, was developed for HBO and has starred Andrew Stevens, Gregory Harrison and Joseph Bottoms. He has recently been involved in European productions with CLT-UFA, Europe's leading commercial television and radio broadcaster. He wrote MOWs THE DOLL COLLECTION, THE BOTTOM LINE and LAST WITNESS for German television. While in college and graduate school he worked as a foreign correspondent for COMBAT, the famous leftwing Paris daily, and as a travel writer. He visited more than 50 countries. He struggled as an actor, then joined the enemy and entered the training program at William Morris. He became a publicist and worked for Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, at Paramount and MGM. He followed with a brief stint as a story executive, working in the frantic horror genre period of the early 80s and wrote THE UNSEEN. He went onto write for episodic television and develop series pilots. He was a continuing writer on such series such as LOVE BOAT, PAPER DOLLS, and KNOTS LANDING. He developed screenplays for such major award winning directors as Nicolas Meyers, Tony Richardson and J. Lee Thompson. He has written for all the major networks and studios. He has been hired numerous times as a script doctor, doing many uncredited rewrites on TV movies and features. He is currently writing A PERSON OF INTEREST, a thriller novel, and, IT'S THE LOVE BOAT... AND HOW IT CHANGED CRUISING BY SHIP a non-fiction book dealing with how the hit TV series as a major cultural phenomenon and altered the style of cruising by ship. He was raised in Los Angeles. He attended St. Paul's, USC and the Pasadena Playhouse. He received a B.A from San Francisco State University where he majored in theatre arts and minored in creative writing. He is listed as a SFSU leading alumni. He also apprenticed at ACT - The American Conservatory Theatre. For a brief period he had intentions of becoming an Episcopal(Anglican) priest and attended seminary at Kelham Theological College in the UK. When "the calling" wasn't there, he left seminary and did graduate work at the American University of Beirut. He has guest lectured at USC, UC San Diego, McGill, Univ. of London and the Univ. of Texas on the business aspects of making a living and surviving as a writer, focusing on development hell, in the Hollywood entertainment industry. Grace is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, the Dramatist Guild and former regional chairman of the Steamship Historical Society of America. He resides in Palm Springs.

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