Considered as the classic Hollywood leading man, Cary Grant's dashing good looks and debonair won and stole hearts alike. Born in Bristol, UK his trademark was his Mid-Atlantic accent and unmistakable chin. Often noted for playing the handsome bachelor it has been said that author, Ian Flemming modelled his James Bond on Mr. Cary Grant.
Born Archibald Alexander Leach, on 18th January 1904 the man who would later become Cary Grant experienced a difficult upbringing. With a mother whom suffered from clinical depression as a result of the death of a previous child, his father had told him his mother was going on a "long vacation" when in fact he had placed her in a mental institution. A year later, his father abandoned him to start a new life with his new wife and new child. It is no surprise that little Archibald's behaviour would be tempestuous at times, to the point where he was expelled from Fairfield Grammar School in 1918. His first foray into the theatre came as a result of him leaving school and at the tender age of 14, by forging his father's signature secured a place with a troupe of comedians managed by Bob Pender. Whilst touring with the Pender troupe, Archibald learned acrobatics and pantomime. He was lucky enough to be selected to tour to the US in the 1920s. The show, "Good Times" which appeared on Broadway ran for over 456 performances.
|The epitome of charm|
On Broadway, Archibald appeared as "Archie Leach" and when he went to Hollywood in 1931 he was instructed to change his name to "Cary Lockwood". Feeling that the surname sounded too much like another actor Archibald elected for the name, "Cary Grant" and thus Mr. Cary Grant was born.
The actress Mae West selected Cary Grant especially to appear opposite her in two of her most successful films, "She done him wrong"(1933) and "I'm no angel"(1933). At this time Paramount Pictures was suffering financially and it was through the success of "I'm no angel" that the studio company was saved from bankruptcy. As Cary was signed with Paramount Pictures he was placed in several less successful films and in 1936, he subsequently signed on with Columbia Pictures.
|In Hitchcock's "North by Northwest"|
"The Awful Truth" (1937) stapled Cary Grant's status in light-hearted comedies, which opened the door for him to make a flurry of similar successful and enjoyable films such as "Holiday"(1938), "Bringing up baby"(1939), "The Philadelphia Story"(1940), "His Girl Friday" (1940) and "My Favourite Wife" (1940). During this time he also appeared in adventure films such as "Only Angels have Wings" (1939). Cary also appeared in a couple of Alfred Hitchcock classics - "Notorious"(1949), "To Catch a Thief" (1955) and "North by Northwest"(1959).
For almost thirty years, Cary Grant was a major box office drawing card. He was also the first actor to refuse signing another studio contract, opting instead to "go independent". During the Silver Screen days the studios ran everything - even the actors and as a result, would dictate an actor's career - sometimes with little to no consultation. Cary Grant changed this by opting to handle his career alone, thus bringing on the end of the studio system.
At age 62, Cary retired from the screen and along with the birth of his daughter, Jennifer focussed on a more settled and quiet life. In October 1984, Cary Grant suffered a stroke. Despite recovery, he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in November 1986.
Cary Grant will forever be remembered as that Silver Screen Fox, the dashing and undyingly charming gentleman. A statue of him stands in Millennium Square in Bristol, UK.
"Everybody wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant"
Cary Grant ~