Cary Grant

An Elegant Legend

A legendary star of Golden Age of Hollywood cinema, known for his transatlantic accent, debonair demeanor, one of classic Hollywood’s definitive leading men.

English stage and Hollywood film actor, Cary Grant, born Archibald Alexander Leach, won audiences the world over with his handsomely good looks and sophistication charm. He created a light, comic style with a unique sense of class. Over four decades, Grant starred in seventy-two films from the 1930s through the 1960s.

Grant performance was in romantic comedies to thrillers including several Alfred Hitchcock films like the 1959, ‘North by Northwest’. He won a special Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement, for his contribution to cinema and also accorded the Kennedy Centre Honors in 1981 for his services to the entertainment industry.

On 29 November, 1986, Cary Grant aged 82, passed away in Davenport, Iowa, USA. Decades since his passing, his legacy has lingered on. He will forever be known for his professionalism both on and off screen, and also the unparalleled comedic performances of his movies.

Name:   Cary  Grant
Born:   18 January 1904
Star Sign: Capricorn
Died:   29 November 1986
Birthplace: Horsfield, Bristol,
Country: United Kingdom
DetailsOther Names
Archibald Alexander Leach
Elias James Leach
Elsie Maria Leach (née Kingdon)
Grant was married five times. Barbara Harris (M. 1981–1986), Barbara Hutton (M. 1942–1945), Betsy Drake (M. 1949–1962), Dyan Cannon (M. 1965–1968), Virginia Cherrill (M. 1934–1935)
Jennifer Grant

Cary Grant was born, Archibald Alexander Leach on January 18, 1904, in Horfield, Bristol, England. He was the second child of Elias James Leach and Elsie Maria Kingdon Leach. His father was a tailor's presser at a clothes factory, and his mother, a seamstress. His parent's first child, John had died in 1900, of tuberculous meningitis. The loss left his 22 year-old mother seriously depressed and overprotective. Elias, his father, had taken to drink.

At the age of nine, Cary came home from school to be told his mother had left to live at a 'seaside resort'. Later, he was told his mother had passed away. When Cary was just 10, his father abandoned him and remarried. It was 20 years later, that Grant discovered that his mother was still alive – committed to Bristol Lunatic Asylum by his father.

Gary orchestrated her discharge and provided care for his mother for the rest of her life. 'There was a void in my life," Grant said of the lost time with mother, 'a sadness of spirit that affected each daily activity with which I occupied myself in order to overcome it.'.

Early Life
Grant gained a scholarship to attended Fairfield Academy in Somerset, England. At 13, he started hanging around Bristol theater, where he became interested in the theater and in theatrical lighting. He volunteered in the summer as a messenger boy and a guide at the military docks in Southampton, to escape the unhappiness of his home life.

Grant then took up with Bob Pender's group of traveling performers, but his first attempt at a theatrical career was cut short when he lied about his age and not having his father's permission. In 1918, Grant was expelled from Fairfield. At aged 16, with his father's permission, Grant joined Pender's troupe. He traveled with the group to the United States for two years, performing in all types of acts - from juggling to comedy bits to acrobatics.

The Vaudeville Circuit
After a series of successful performances in New York City, he decided to stay there. In 1922, at 18 years old, he joined the Vaudeville traveling theater. He toured with them as a juggler, dancer, and general entertainment artist.

He continued to use his birth name, Archibald Alexander Leach as he performed in many stage shows such as - ‘Irene’, ‘Music in May’, ‘Rio Rita’ and ‘Wonderful Night.' He became known for his comic-timing and physical grace across the stages of elite theater performances.

After a number of shows, he decided to make it big in Hollywood. He signed a contract with Paramount Pictures who proposed that he should officially change his name Archibald Alexander Leach to Cary Grant. He started appearing alongside big star names in 1930's Hollywood – including the sultry Mae West in films such as 1933’s - 'She Done Him Wrong', and 'I’m No Angel.'

Trademark sophistication
Grant demonstrated the elegant sophistication that is the very opposite of his working-class background. His credentials as a traditional leading man were established with his appearance opposite Marlene Dietrich in 'Blond Venus'. The perfect format for displaying Grant's verbal and physical agility was in the comedies of the 1930s - in 'The Awful Truth', 'His Girl Friday', 'Holiday' and 'Bringing Up Baby', Grant's deft comic touch was prevalent.

Dramatic Parts
As the decade past, Cary was offered more starring roles including: the 1938’s comedy 'Bringing Up Baby'; 1939 classics: 'Gunga Din' and 'Only Angels Have Wings' ; 1940's rom-com 'The Philadelphia Story' and 1941’s melodrama 'Penny Serenade' – in which he received his first ever Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. The 1944, American drama film, 'None but the Lonely Heart' confirmed him being a dramatic actor.

By the early 1940s, Grant became one of the first actors to land status as a free agent, which means he picks his own parts, becoming increasingly selective about what roles he'd take.

Drama with Hitchcock
One of Grant's first decisions was to star in Hitchcock's 1946's film, 'Notorious,' opposite Ingrid Bergman. Alfred Hitchcock introduced him to psychological twists classic films, a startling contrast to his smooth surface elegance. In the mid-50s, Grant established his own production company, Granart Productions and produced a number of films, such as ‘Indiscreet’ (1958) and ‘Father Goose’ (1964), distributed by Universal.

He and Grace Kelly starred in the 1955 film, 'To Catch a Thief,' and they were allowed to improvise some of the dialogue. He appeared with Deborah Kerr in the 1957 romance film, 'An Affair to Remember' directed by Leo McCarey. One of Grant's biggest box-office success was Hitchcock's 1959 espionage film, 'North by Northwest' with Eva Marie Saint.

Final Curtain
Grant also teamed up with Audrey Hepburn for the 1963 humorous and romantic thriller 'Charade'. For his final film, Walk Don't Run in 1966, he moved from romantic lead to mature matchmaker in this comedy. Grant retired from the screen at 62 in 1966, when his daughter Jennifer was born. Although he retired from the screen, he remained active.

Grant accepted a position on the board of directors at Faberge. He later joined the boards of Hollywood Park, the Academy of Magical Arts (The Magic Castle - Hollywood, California), Western Airlines (acquired by Delta Airlines in 1987) and MGM. In his last years, he undertook tours of the United States in a one-man-show, "A Conversation with Cary Grant", in which he would show clips from his films and answer audience questions.

Awards and Achievements
Grant received numerous honors for his contributions to film in his later years, including a special Academy Award in 1970 for his 'unique mastery of the art of screen acting.' In 1981, he earned the prestigious Kennedy Center Honor for Career Achievement in the Performing Arts.

Grant agreed to a special appearance in his one-man show 'An Evening with Cary Grant' in Davenport on November 29, 1986, but he never made it to the Adler Theater that night. Grant suffered a major fatal stroke in his hotel room.

Marriage and Family
Although Grant achieved tremendous success as an actor, his first four marriages ended in divorce. Grant speculated that this poor record was tied to the disappearance of his mother. His fifth wife, Barbara Harris, was at his side when he died of a massive stroke in 1986.

Grant became a father for the first time at age of 62 when his fourth wife Dyan Cannon gave birth to their daughter, Jennifer Diane Grant born on February 26, 1966.

His mother began teaching him song and dance at the tender age of 4. Cary got the itch to get on stage at the early age of 6. He began performing with a troupe called “The Penders,”

At age nine, Grant's mother disappeared but later told she had died, but the actor learned 20 years later that his father had committed her to a psychiatric hospital and was still alive.

Grant told the funniest stories, with southern accents, ethnic accents - any kind of accent. Dirty ones, too. You’d never think those things would come out of him.

Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond series, claimed to have modeled his character partially on the suave, sophisticated Grant. Grant was offered the part, but he turned it down, as he considered himself too old at age 58.

When Grant became a father at the age of 62, he decided to retire from from films in 1966, when his daughter Jennifer was born, in order to focus his energies on raising her up.

Grant one of the first free agent actors in Hollywood. That allowed him to pick and choose the roles he wanted and take artistic control over his career.

He was also a keen motor enthusiast and owned a number of cars, which he proudly showed-off.

Grant donated all his paycheck from the 1940 film The Philadelphia Story and from Arsenic and Old Lace to the British war effort and to the U.S. War Relief Fund.

Grant became obsessed with dressing well, probably in reaction to the poverty of his childhood. The actor was rumored to always carry a piece of twine in his pocket to remind him of his humble upbringing.

Grant was English, he always appears very well-tanned. It was not makeup - that’s his actual tan, which he maintained constantly.

"There's no point in being unhappy about growing older. Just think of the millions who have been denied the privilege."

"Destiny is not necessarily what we get out of life, but rather, what we give."

"Simplicity, to me, has always been the essence of good taste."

"When people tell you how young you look, they are also telling you how old you are."

"I began by acting like the person I wanted to be, and eventually I became that person."

"Do your job and demand your compensation - but in that order."

"We should all just smell well and enjoy ourselves more."

"It`s important to know where you`ve come from so that you can know where you`re going. I probably chose my profession because I was seeking approval, adulation, admiration and affection."

"We have our factory, which is called a stage. We make a product, we color it, we title it and we ship it out in cans."

"Ah, beware of snobbery; it is the unwelcome recognition of one's own past failings."


On November 29th, 1986, Gary Grant, aged 82 years old, died from a massive stroke in Davenport, Iowa. His fifth wife, Barbara Harris, was at his side. His body was flown to California and cremated. According to his wishes - no funeral, no memorial service: His ashes scattered in California.

After his death, Grant's daughter Jennifer anonymously donated the contents of his closet to charity. His suits went to a nonprofit for men seeking work, while his pajamas and a cashmere sweater went straight to Goodwill.

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