Legendary actor, Cary Grant, was born Archibald Alexander Leach on Jan 18, 1904 in Horfield, Bristol. Grant appeared in 75 films. His best known films include She Done Him Wrong, I'm No Angel, The Awful Truth, Bringing Up Baby, Holiday, Gunga Din, His Girl Friday, My Favorite Wife, The Philadelphia Story, Suspicion, Arsenic and Old Lace, Notorious, The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, The Bishop's Wife, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, To Catch a Thief, Indiscreet, Houseboat, North by Northwest, Charade and Father Goose. Grant died at the age of 82 on Nov 29, 1986 in Davenport, IA and was cremated and his ashes scattered in CA.
Cary Grant was born Archibald Leach On January 18th, 1904 in Bristol, England. His childhood was a nightmare of instability and poverty. His father, Elias, was a womanizer and his mother, Elsie, was an emotionally unstable woman who long suffered from crippling clinical depression. Although she had high hopes for her only child, the young Cary Grant did little to distinguish himself while attending Bishop Road Primary School. At the age of 9, Grant was informed by his father that his mother had taken a "long Holiday" when in reality he had placed her in a mental institution. Grant would spend the next twenty years believing the lie, until his father confessed the truth on his deathbed. Soon placing Elsie in the asylum, his father would remarry and much to his son dismay. Fed up with his Dickensian life, at age 13 Grant left his insufferable environment to join a troupe of traveling acrobats. His father quickly found him and dragged the boy home.
In 1918, after being expelled from Fairfield Grammar School, Grant finally made the permanent escape from his dreary surroundings and joined the Bob Pender Stage Troupe. Grant learned quickly as he traveled the music halls of London, performing as a juggler, an acrobat, and a comedian, giving him the kinetic grace and impeccable comedic timing he become famed for. In 1920 Grant made the leap across the pond, traveling with the Pender Troupe to the United States. He was just 16 years old.
Vaudeville and Theatre
After the groups' two-year stint in the U.S, the troupe returned to England but young Grant stayed, hoping to find more opportunity in the performing arts. He briefly performed in the Broadway musical revue Better Times, thus making his Broadway debut in 1922. He easily found work in the vaudeville circuit, working as carnival baker and a stilt walker before forming his own troupe, Parker, Rand and Leach. After five years on the vaudeville circuit, Grant decided to try his hand at the stage. In 1927 made his first significant appearance on the Broadway stage in Golden Dawn. Because of his extensive training in the circus arts, Grant gained an incredible amount of body control and comic timing served him well in the theatre. In the late 1920's he continued to play small roles on Broadway, such as Golden Dawn, Boom Boom, and A Wonderful Night before heading to the Midwest to performer at The Muny Stage in St. Louis. He honed his acting skill in productions such as Irene, Music in May and Nina Rose. Soon after, Grant felt confident in his acting and performer skills and with that, left for Hollywood.
In 1931, Grant arrived in Hollywood and less than a year later made his screen debut in the film This is the Night. Soon after he was signed to a five year contract with Paramount studio. The studio began to groom the young actor into leading-man material. The first order of business was a name change. Grant had originally suggested the name Cary Lockwood, but ultimately took the last name Grant. He spent his first year at Paramount appearing subpar roles before being cast opposite Marlene Dietrich in 1932'sBlonde Venus. Soon after the handsome young actor was spotted by Mae West, who then insisted Grant be cast opposite her 1933 films She Done Him Wrong and I'm No Angel. The two films, credited with saving Paramount studios from bankruptcy, where bona fide hits and Grant, albeit still a bit stiff on-screen, reach a small level of stardom. Despite this, however, Paramount relegated Grant to a string of unsuccessful films such as Alice in Wonderland, Born to be Bad and Kiss and Make-Up. Feeling the films completely wasted his both his talent and potential, in 1935 Grant left the studio. Freed from his contract at Paramount, Grant signed to Columbia pictures. Frustrated with the lack of freedom offered by Paramount, Grant ensured his new contract had a clause that would allow him choice of role, even if at a differing studio. Later that year in George Cukor's Sylvia Scarlett, the movie going public got their first glimpse at the still yet-to-be refined comedic screen persona of Cary Grant. It also marked the first of four films of the cherished Grant/Hepburn collaborations. Although the film bombed, Grant was singled out for his comedic performance.
1937 wwould be the turning point for Grants Career. First, he starred in the opposite Constance Bennet and Robert Young in the Norman Z. McLeod comedy Topper. In the film, he and Bennet play a pair of recently deceased ghosts who decided to shake up the life of their living friend, Mr. Topper. Although glimmers of his genius shined through in his earlier films, it would be Leo McCary's The Awful Truth that solidified his on-screen persona as the sophisticated and effortlessly debonair comedic leading man. In the film he and co-star Irene Dunn play a recently divorced couple that go completely and comically out of their way to destroy each other's new romances. The film was huge hit and Grant became Hollywood's go-to leading man for light comedy.
In the next few years, Grant would star in a string of successful screwball comedies. In 1938 he reteamed with Katharine Hepburn twice, starring in Holiday and Bring Up Baby. Although the latter film was huge box-office bomb at the time of it's released and temporarily ruined Hepburn's Hollywood career, it has since become one of the most beloved screwball comedies of all time. In 1939 he demonstrated his range outside the light comedy genre by starring two action/adventures film, George Steven's Gunga Din and Howard Hawks' Only Angel's Have Wings. The next year he returned to screwball comedy with the newsroom farce, His Girl Friday with Rosalind Russell and another comedy of divorce, My Favorite Wife with his The Awful Truth co-star Irene Dunne. In 1940 Grant starred opposite Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart in the George Cukor's The Philadelphia Story. It would be his final film with Hepburn.
Continued Success and Dramatic Roles
Although Grants name would be forever associated with comedy, he also wished to prove himself as dramatic actor. In 1941 he reteamed with Irene Dunn for the melodrama Penny Serenade. The role would earn Grant his first of two Oscar Nomination. Later that year, Grant played against type as a possible spouse murderer in the 1941 thriller Suspicion, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The collaboration would be one of the most beneficial of both Grant's and Hitchcock's careers as the pair would make some of classic Hollywood's most beloved films. The next year he returned to comedy as an anarchist accused of burning down a building in the George Steven's love-triangle The Talk of the Town. In 1944, starred in None but the Lonely Heart, playing a cockney vagabond called home to care for his mother. The role gave Grant his second and final Oscar nomination and was his personal favorite. Funnily enough, that year also provided Grant with his least favorite performance in Frank Capra's screwball comedy Arsenic and Old Lace. Although considered by many of his fans to be one of his Grant greatest performances, he thought himself far to "hammy" and heavy handed.
By the early 1940's, his contract with Columbia had expired, making him one of the first actors to become a free agent, allowing him the freedom to choose any part he wanted regardless of studio. With this newfound freedom Grant became more selective of his roles. One of those said roles was American CIA operative, Agent Devlin, in Alfred Hitchcocks 1946 thriller Notorious. The film is famed for its cerebral camera work and steamy love scene between Grant and Bergman. Throughout the late 1940's, and early 1950's Grant continued to charm the movie going audience with his signature light comedic touch in films twice starring opposite Hollywood's perfect wife, Myrna Loy in 1947'sThe Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer and 1948's Mr. Blanding Builds His Dream House. In 1952 Grant once again teamed with director Howard Hawks, starring opposite Ginger Rogers in Monkey Business.
Later Career and Life
In 1955, Grant once again teamed up with Hitchcock, this time for the light-hearted caper film, To Catch a Thief, opposite the lovely Grace Kelly. Two year later, he would star opposite Deborah Kerr in the remake of An Affair to Remember. The film has since become a staple in the pseudo-genre of "chick-flick" and has earned a place in film history thanks to a mention in the 1980's classic, Sleepless in Seattle. In 1959, Grant starred in what can arguably be called his quintessential role in Alfred Hitchcock's action/adventure thriller, North by Northwest. In the film Grant plays Roger Thornhill, a successful Ad man who is mistaken for a government agent. In 1963, Grant was paired with Audrey Hepburn in the romantic thriller, Charade. The film was massive commercial and critical success despite Grant's won apprehensions about its May-December romance. By the time 1966 rolled around Grant had become a father and starred in final film, Walk Don't Run, retiring soon after to take better care of his newly born daughter.
Although he walked away from the silver screen, Grant remained in Public Life. In 1970 he was the recipient of the Academy Award for Lifetime achievement for his "unique mastery of the art of screen acting," and in 1981 he would earn the prestigious Kennedy Center Honor for Career Achievement in the Arts. Although he rarely granted Television interviews, in the 1980's Grant embarked on nationwide lecture tour. In 1986, while on tour in Davenport, Iowa, the aged star suffered a sudden stroke. Cary Grant died on November 29th, 1986. He was 82 years old.(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).
GRANT / HEPBURN FILMS:
Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn starred in four films together: Sylvia Scarlett (1935), Bringing Up Baby (1938), Holiday (1938), and The Philadelphia Story (1940).
GRANT / HITCHCOCK FILMS:
Cary Grant starred in four Alfred Hitchcock films: Suspicion (1941), Notorious (1946), To Catch a Thief (1955) and North by Northwest (1959).
HONORS and AWARDS:.
Although Grant was nominated for two Oscars, he never won a competitive Academy Award. However he won one Honorary Oscar Award in 1969 for his unique mastery of the art of screen acting with the respect and affection of his colleagues.
|1941||Best Actor||Penny Serenade (1941)||Roger Adams||Nominated|
|1944||Best Actor||None but the Lonely Heart (1944)||Ernie Mott||Nominated|
Academy Awards (Honorary Oscars)
|1969||Honorary Award||for his unique mastery of the art of screen acting with the respect and affection of his colleagues|
He was honored with one star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures. Cary Grant's handprints and footprints were 'set in stone' at Grauman's Chinese Theater during imprint ceremony #94 on Jul 16, 1951. In addition, Grant was immortalized on a US postal stamp in 2002.
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