Man of Style–Cary Grant

I absolutely love Cary Grant. He is the epitome of cool. His onscreen presence is electrifying, and I often compare him to George Clooney. I think he might be the closes thing to Cary that we have today. One of my favorite films is “An Affair to Remember,” as you can see in my previous post. With Cary being in that film, I thought it only fair to give some background on him and his career. Enjoy your Monday friends!

Grant was born in 1904 in England. His birth name was Archibald Alexander Leach. I think Cary Grant has much more appeal, don’t you? Once told by an interviewer, “Everybody would like to be Cary Grant,” Grant is said to have replied, “So would I.” His early years in Bristol, England, would have been an ordinary lower-middle-class childhood except for one extraordinary event. At age nine, he came home from school one day and was told his mother had gone off to a seaside resort. The real truth, however, was that she had been placed in a mental institution, where she would remain for years, and he was never told about it (he never saw his mother again until he was in his late 20s).

He left school at 14, lying about his age and forging his father’s signature on a letter to join Bob Pender’s troupe of knockabout comedians. He learned pantomime as well as acrobatics as he toured with the Pender troupe in the English provinces, picked up a Cockney accent in the music halls in London, and then in July 1920, was one of the eight Pender boys selected to go to the US. Their show on Broadway, “Good Times,” ran for 456 performances, giving Grant time to acclimatize. He would stay in America. Mae West wanted Grant for She Done Him Wrong (1933) because she saw his combination of virility, sexuality and the aura and bearing of a gentleman. Grant was young enough to begin the new career of fatherhood when he stopped making movies at age 62. One biographer said Grant was alienated by the new realism in the film industry. In the 1950s and early 1960s, he had invented a man-of-the-world persona and a style–“high comedy with polished words.” In To Catch a Thief (1955), he and Grace Kelly were allowed to improvise some of the dialogue. They knew what the director, Alfred Hitchcock, wanted to do with a scene, they rehearsed it, put in some clever double entendres that got past the censors, and then the scene was filmed. His biggest box-office success was another Hitchcock 1950s film, North by Northwest (1959) made with Eva Marie Saint since Kelly was by that time Princess of Monaco.

Grant was married 5 times, most famously to Barbara Hutton, and Dyan Cannon, who he had a daughter with. He died in 1986 of a cerebral hemorrhage.

Here is some trivia about Cary Grant:

–Ian Fleming modeled the James Bond character partially with Grant in mind.

–From 1933 onwards, he occasionally shared a house with Randolph Scott. There were many rumors about their relationship. Scott often referred to himself, jokingly, as Grant’s wife. Many studio heads threatened not to employ them unless they lived separately.

–Was a great fan of Elvis Presley, and attended his Las Vegas shows. He is seen discussing Elvis’ performance with him backstage during the closing credits of “That’s The Way It Is” (1970).

–Grant, who was 59 at the time he filmed the romantic thriller Charade (1963), felt he was too old to play the love interest for Audrey Hepburn, who at 33 was 26 years younger than him. He demanded that the script make clear that it was Audrey pursuing him, not vice versa. He also added a number of wry jokes denoting the difference in age.

–Douglas Fairbanks was his boyhood idol, with Fairbanks’ “healthy” tan being the inspiration for Grant’s constantly dark skin.

–According to his will (dated 26th November 1984), his body was to be cremated and no funeral service held. His ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.

–Was largely self-educated as he had dropped out of school at age 14. He was, however, a voracious reader throughout life.

–Often spoke of his relationship with Sophia Loren as one of the most passionate romances in his life.

–When Sophia Loren visited Los Angeles during the filming of “An Affair to Remember (1957), Grant inundated her with dozens of phone calls and hundreds of flowers – even though she had called the affair off

–He always wore a gold chain around his neck with three charms attached. The three charms represented the religions of each of his former wives: a St. Christopher for Virginia Cherrill (Roman Catholic), a small cross for Barbara Hutton and Betsy Drake (Protestants), and a Star of David for Dyan Cannon (Jewish. (Donaldson)

–Although fifty when To Catch a Thief (1955) was filmed, Grant was still playing a character of thirty-five.

–Smoked up to 60 cigarettes a day until 1952, when his third wife Betsy made him give up in order to protect his voice. However, she recalled occasionally catching him smoking outside the house, so he probably never stopped completely.

–Always cited his To Catch a Thief (1955) co-star Grace Kelly as his favorite leading lady. He attended her state funeral in 1982 and wept throughout the televised service.

–At the time of his death, his estate was valued at $60 million.

So many of the things he is quoted as saying are interesting and insightful, but one of my favorites is: “I have no rapport with the new idols of the screen, and that includes Marlon Brando and his style of Method acting. It certainly includes Montgomery Clift and that God-awful James Dean. Some producer should cast all three of them in the same movie and let them duke it out. When they’ve finished each other off, James Stewart, Spencer Tracy and I will return and start making real movies again like we used to.”

Wow, what a man.

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Join the Discussion!

  1. Great trivia about my dream man. I think my favorite Cary Grant movies were Father Goose, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, and Room For One More.
    I am so glad you mentioned the chain around his neck. I’d noticed it many times, as it certainly went against his character in several movies, but never knew the reason behind it. Now, do you happen to know why Desi Arnaz wore one? I don’t.

  2. What more can be said about Cary Grant that you haven’t just said! He is my ultimate favourite, they broke the mold when they made him. George Clooney comes close but I don’t think anyone can compare to Mr. Grant! He is just to die for!

  3. He certainly had the dashing dare and do, along with the looks, to pull off characters much younger than his actual age.

  4. I’ve always thought he was the most handsome actor of all times! Very nice post full of great info about his life. Thank you. Have a great evening!:)

  5. I agree about George Clooney being the modern Cary Grant, they have the same charm and coolness about them.
    I love that quote, i would never have thought he felt that way about Marlon Brando, you learn something new every day! x

  6. Bonjour Kori!
    Yet another post to make me smile! Mr Grant was quite debonair and handsome – though I’ve read he had a very dark side. Oh well, even the most perfect package is not perfect!
    Enjoy your week!

  7. I always talk about how George Clooney is a modern Cary Grant w/ my boyfriend who is also a film buff.

    Cary Grant is my favorite actor hands down. I’m obsessed. Such a long career, he got better with age 😉

    My boyfriend’s boss met him about 2 years before he died, he still had a wife who was about half his age!

  8. Woa. You once again dear have amazed me. I love Carey Grant, he’s one of my all-time favorite actors. He is just so funny & so charming & so…great. He’s in one of my favorite movies called Bringing up Baby. He is so good in it & I love him in Charades. I did not know he had a relationship with Sophia Loren. Hmmm Interesting…

  9. I agree about your comparison to Clooney, definitely. One of my favorite Cary Grant movies is “Father Goose” in which he really played against his sauve & debonair type. However, I read that he considered the Father Goose character to be most like his OWN personality!

  10. Honestly, I absolutely love your blog – can we run away and just watch old movies all day long LOL!!!

    I LOVE Cary Grant (he was my Friday Squeeze in my Friday post last week)….so handsome and debonair.

    I really enjoyed reading all your information about him, some of it I knew but some if it I didn’t. I loved him with Grace Kelly and Sophia – such different women but what amazing chemistry.

    Great post :)

    Happy Monday!

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