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A Brief Profile of Cary Grant

A Brief Profile of Cary Grant

The Early Life of Cary Grant

Cary Grant was born Archibald Alec Leach on 18 January 1904, in Bristol, England. He was the second child of Elias James Leach and Elsie Maria Leach, who were both employed in the local garment industry.  He became interested in theatre as a youngster, which saw him making regular visits to the Bristol Hippodrome. At 16, he was handed the opportunity to tour America as a stage performer with the Pender Troupe. Following stage success in New York City, he decided the States side was the place to be.

Film  Career

During the 1920s he established a name for himself in Vaudeville, before moving on to Hollywood in the early 1930s. Blessed with good looks, his suave, debonair appearance, and dulcet mid-Atlantic accent became his trademark. He was equally happy being cast in anything from dramas to comedic roles. Between the mid-1930s and the mid-1960s, Hollywood’s so-called Golden Era, Grant gained recognition as one of the studio’s greatest leading actors. He starred in more than 70 films.


During the 1940s and 50s, Grant collaborated with the great British director, Alfred Hitchcock. He cast Grant as the leading man in four of his films, which saw him star opposite some of Hollywood’s biggest female stars. These included Ingrid Bergman in ‘To Catch a Thief’ (1955) and Grace Kelly in ‘Notorious’. Grant gained much critical acclaim throughout his career, notably in the role of Roger Thornhill in the spy-thriller ‘North by Northwest’ (1959). However, he was never to receive an Oscar, much to the disappointment of his many followers.

Grant as Roger Thornhill in North By Northwest (1959).      Photo credit: PDM 1.0 DEED

Cary Grant Private Life and Retirement

Grant’s private life was no less interesting than his film career. He married five times, the first three being to the actresses: Virginia Cherrill (1934–1935), Betsy Drake (1949–1962), and Dyan Cannon (1965–1968). In 1942, Grant married for a fourth time to Woolworth’s heiress Barbara Hutton but divorced after only three years. He was survived by his fifth and final wife Barbara Harris, whom he married in 1981.

His only offspring was his daughter Jennifer, whom he fathered with Cannon in 1966. Her birth prompted him to retire from acting to pursue fatherhood and his varied business interests. The latter included sitting on the board of MGM and working as an ambassador for the international jewellers Faberge. He remained active right up until the time of his death. That was on 29 November 1986 when he died of a stroke in Davenport, Iowa, aged 82.

In 1999, the American Film Institute named Cary Grant the second greatest male star of the Golden Age of Hollywood. He was topped only by the enigmatic Humphrey Bogart.


Header image credit: CC BY-SA 2.0

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