Cary Grant

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Cary Grant (1939)

Cary Grant (born January 18, 1904 as Archibald Alec Leach in Bristol , England , † November 29, 1986 in Davenport , Iowa ) was a British - American actor . He became a US citizen in 1942.

Grant was one of the most popular film stars in Hollywood for over 30 years and cultivated the image of the self-deprecating, attractive man of the world in many comedies and thrillers . With him in the lead role, Alfred Hitchcock created the classic films Suspicion (1941), Notorious (1946), Above the Roofs of Nice (1955) and The Invisible Third (1959). Grant was also successful with comedies such as Leopards Don't Kiss (1938), The Night Before the Wedding (1940) and Arsenic and Lace Cap (1944).

In 1965 he retired from the film business after making 77 films. In 1970 he received an honorary Oscar for his life's work. The American Film Institute ranked him second behind Humphrey Bogart among the 25 most important male American film stars of all time.


Early years

Cary Grant grew up in a modest family. When he was nine years old, his mother Elsie Maria Kingdon (1877–1973) was admitted to a mental institution for mental health problems . For a long time he knew nothing about it and believed that his mother had left him; Only after the death of his father Elias James Leach (1873–1935) did a lawyer report to him who informed him about the real events. His father worked as an ironer, was a drinker and made sure that Grant's mother was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. His mother was released after 21 years and he was in contact with her again until her death. However, this was always very tense.

As a child, Grant was interested in the stage and played in the theater company The Penders. He attended Bishop Road Primary School and then Fairfield Grammar School in Bristol. At age 13, Grant dropped out of school but pretended to be older and joined a comedian troupe touring the English provinces. He was trained as a pantomime and acrobat and has appeared in vaudeville shows and musicals in London . He also starred in several plays on Broadway in New York City . In the early 1930s he went on a stage tour in the United States, where he settled permanently. In 1932 he was signed to the Paramount Pictures film company after being discovered auditioning for young actors in 1931. Archibald Leach soon adopted the name Cary Grant at Paramount Pictures' request.

The breakthrough in Hollywood

Cary Grant (1973)

He made his film debut in the pre-code drama This Is the Night (1932), which was directed by Frank Tuttle as Lili Hencea's betrayed husband. In the same year he played an admirer of Marlene Dietrich in the melodrama Blonde Venus by Josef von Sternberg . At first Grant appeared mainly in supporting roles, but quickly found the right subject for him - the handsome tuxedo wearer who appeared in the studio's routine comedies as a young lover. Mae West made sure that he in 1933 you did him an injustice has been committed as her partner. Grant consistently refined his timing and talents. After a few failures, he rose to become one of the most popular stars during the 1930s. In 1935 he shot the first of four times with Katharine Hepburn : the drama Sylvia Scarlet was a failure, but it earned him good reviews. His final breakthrough came in 1937 with his role as the fun-loving ghost in the comedy Topper - Das blond Gespenst , which became one of the biggest hits of the year.

The classic screwball comedies , in which he regularly played the male leading actor alongside sharp-tongued female partners, are known from Grant's early work . In Leo McCarey's The Terrible Truth (1937) he wages a war of divorce with Irene Dunne ; in Howard Hawks ' Leopards You Don't Kiss (1938) he played a confused palaeontologist who got into all sorts of mess ; in George Cukor's Sister of the Bride (1938) he falls in love with his sister-in-law; in The Night Before the Wedding (1940) he courted his ex-wife Katharine Hepburn again, and in His Girl for Special Cases (1940) he played a ruthless and sensational editor-in-chief.

The superstar

As early as the 1930s Grant had expanded his range of roles and appeared in adventure films such as SOS Fire on Board (1939). In 1941 he began working with the "Master of Suspense " Alfred Hitchcock and portrayed a charming but dodgy lover under suspicion of murder in the thriller Suspicion . He received an Oscar for the melodrama Akkorde der Liebe (1941) and the love drama None But the Lonely Heart -Nominations for Best Actor . In the black comedy Arsenic and Lace Cap (1944), Grant played a literary critic who had to deal with his murderous relatives on his wedding day. The film, directed by Frank Capra, is still a cult film today . In Hitchcock's Notorious 1946, Grant played a secret agent who fell in love with a spy played by Ingrid Bergman and was caught in a conflict between work and private life. He cemented his reputation as Hollywood's leading comedian in films like I Was a Male War Bride (1949) or Darling, I'm Getting Younger (1952).

In the mid-1950s, Grant wanted to retire from the film business, but was persuaded by Hitchcock to take the lead in the crime comedy Above the Rooftops of Nice (1955). The 50-year-old Grant proved to be more popular than ever and shot several box office hits before his screen farewell in the mid-1960s: The great love of my life (1957), Indiskret (1958), Houseboat (1958), Company Petticoat (1959) and Charade (1963). In 1959, again under the direction of Hitchcock, Grant played the inexperienced businessman Roger Thornhill in the classic thriller The Invisible Third , who becomes entangled in murderous secret service intrigue. In the early 1960s, Grant turned down the offer to become the first James Bond actor because he did not want to sign up for multiple films.

In 1966 Grant made his last film Not So Fast My Boy . He withdrew from the film business on the grounds that due to his age he could only play the roles of grandfathers. Even Hitchcock couldn't persuade him to film with him again, so he turned down a role in The Birds .

Private life

Cary Grant with daughter Jennifer, housekeeper Willie and US President Gerald Ford (1976)

In 1934 Grant married the actress Virginia Cherrill (1908-1996). She left Grant, her second husband, after a few months. She gave domestic violence as the reason. Then Grant lived for almost ten years with the actor friend Randolph Scott in a villa. Some biographers wrote that Grant's coexistence with Scott was not only platonic but also romantic.

In 1942 he married the Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton (1912–1979), from whom he divorced in 1945. With his stepson from this marriage, Lance Reventlow , he became a close friendship that lasted until Reventlow's accidental death in 1972. From 1949 to 1962 he was married to the actress Betsy Drake (1923-2015). Grant went into his fourth marriage in 1965 to the American actress Dyan Cannon (* 1937). In 1966 he became a father for the first time; his daughter Jennifer Grant later also became an actress. In 1968, Grant's marriage to Cannon was divorced. In 1976 he met Barbara Harris (* 1951), the press manager of the Lancaster Hotel in London, where the cosmetics company Fabergé held an annual conference. After two years of friendship, Harris and Grant, who was 46 years older, began planning their future together. They married in 1981 in the presence of Grant's daughter Jennifer. It was Cary Grant's fifth marriage that lasted until his death.

Grant was considered a charming partner and had a large circle of friends, including Frank Sinatra , Quincy Jones , Gregory Peck and Johnny Carson . He occasionally struggled with depression and made positive comments about the drug LSD , which was administered to him several times from 1958 to 1961 - at that time still legal - as part of psychotherapy . However, he later distanced himself from these statements. Politically , he was Republican , but kept it discreet and said: “I don't like it when actors speak publicly and spontaneously about love, religion or politics. We are not experts on these subjects. ”Unlike other Republicans, he criticized Joseph McCarthy's policies and the deportation of his friend Charlie Chaplin in 1953.

Late years

Cary Grant (1973)

All attempts to convince Cary Grant to make a comeback after his retreat into private life failed - the star felt out of place in modern Hollywood. In 1970 Frank Sinatra presented him with an honorary Oscar for "being Cary Grant". Grant had not received an Oscar for any of his roles. Grant had his last small film appearance in 1970 in a documentary with and about Elvis Presley .

As early as the 1940s, Grant had proven himself to be a successful businessman and real estate agent alongside acting. He was considered one of the richest stars in Hollywood. As a member of the board of directors of the cosmetics group Fabergé, Grant went on extensive trips around the world with his daughter, where he was a regular guest at his former film partner Grace Kelly in Monaco . When the cosmetics company Fabergé founded the film production company Brut Productions together with Roger Moore and George Barrie in 1972 , which they also ran, Cary Grant took on the role of a consultant. Brut Productions produced, among other things, the hit film Man, you are great! (1973).

In the last years of his life he toured the United States repeatedly with his show A Conversation with Cary Grant . On one of these trips, Cary Grant died of a stroke in Davenport, Iowa, at the age of 82 . At his express wish not to have an official funeral after his death, his two main heirs (Barbara Harris and daughter Jennifer Grant) scattered his ashes from a helicopter into the Pacific.

The actor Grant

Cary Grant statue in Millennium Square in his birthplace Bristol

According to an often quoted anecdote, an interviewer once said to Cary Grant: "Everyone wants to be like Cary Grant." Grant replied, "Me too." The screen character Cary Grant was an abstract creation by the actor Archibald Leach, which he had refined to perfection . Grant, always neatly parted and peeled from the egg, became one of the archetypal characters in cinema history - in this respect comparable to the rough western man played by John Wayne or the loner in the trench coat played by Humphrey Bogart . Grant's image had become so independent that in the 1960s, when the star was getting on in years, younger actors like Rock Hudson , James Garner , Gregory Peck , Tony Curtis and Rod Taylor were cast in "Grant-like" roles.

In his middle years, the actor gained in charm and attractiveness and developed an ever more subtle sense of humor, which had a lasting impact on his roles. While in earlier films he liked to contrast the salon lion image with emphatically embarrassing grimaces , he now appeared with the confident and self-deprecating attitude of a man of the world who has already seen everything.

Cary Grant played with almost all of the top female stars of his time ( Audrey Hepburn , Marlene Dietrich , Mae West , Katharine Hepburn , Ginger Rogers , Marilyn Monroe , Deborah Kerr , Grace Kelly , Jayne Mansfield , Doris Day , Ingrid Bergman , Sophia Loren , Eva Marie Saint ) and generally showed a provocative disinterest in the roles of the women they embodied. Since the ladies could not resist the charm of his characters, they were forced to devise elaborate strategies of conquest that ultimately led to success.

Hardly any other star has been able to stay at the top of Hollywood for so long and play leading roles for almost 30 years. Grant's sustained popularity resulted not least from the fact that behind his perfect facade a warm-hearted gentleman could be felt who never appeared cynical or arrogant . While the male audience wanted to be as charming as he was, he embodied the perfect and ultimately unattainable dream man for the female audience.

The former mime and acrobat, with a feeling for the comedic timing, gladly led the image of the hyper-perfect world man to absurdity by suddenly making silly jokes: in Charade he showers in a suit, in indiscreet he puts a grotesque Scottish dance on the floor, in The Invisible Third, he shaves himself in a train station toilet with a small lady's razor and thus creates great amazement in his neighbor.

A tribute to Cary Grant is the name of the lawyer played by John Cleese in A Fish Called Wanda , Archie Leach. Tony Curtis delivered a Cary Grant parody in Some Like It Hot in 1959 as a snobbish oil heir, which Grant was so enthusiastic about that he immediately agreed to do petticoat business with Curtis the following year . Cary Grant was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame , located on 1610 Vine Street.


Numerous German voice actors gave Grant their voices. Curt Ackermann spoke to him the most often. B. in Above the roofs of Nice and Charade . Other speakers were Paul Klinger , Wolfgang Lukschy ( Notorious ) and Hans Nielsen . In The Invisible Third he was dubbed once by Erik Ode , as Ode was responsible for the dubbing direction in this film and cast himself.

Filmography (selection)


Cary Grant's imprints outside the TCL Chinese Theater

Cary Grant was named 2nd in the list of the 25 Most Legendary Male Film Legends by the prestigious American Film Institute .


Golden Globe Award

Laurel Award

  • Awards
    • 1959: Golden Laurel for Best Actor in a Comedy for Houseboat
    • 1960: Golden Laurel for Best Actor in a Comedy for Company Petticoat
    • 1963: Golden Laurel for Best Actor in a Comedy for A Touch of Mink
    • 1964: Golden Laurel for Best Male Star
    • 1966: Golden Laurel for Best Male Star
  • Nominations
    • He also landed five times in second place for Best Male Star and received a total of five other nominations.

Cary Grant was awarded in 1965 also nominated for the British Film Academy Award as Best Foreign Actor for Charade .

It has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1610 Vine Street.


Web links

Commons : Cary Grant  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Transcription from the birth register on with a link to the scan from the original. Retrieved August 8, 2017 .
  2. 1942 US citizenship
  3. AFI's 100 YEARS ... 100 STARS. American Film Institute , accessed October 4, 2013 .
  4. Danny Kringiel, DER SPIEGEL: How Hollywood's dream man Cary Grant learned to love LSD in the 1950s - DER SPIEGEL - history. Retrieved July 22, 2020 .
  5. Hennesey, Val. "The Original Good Time Girl." The Daily Mail, June 12, 2009. Retrieved June 16, 2012
  6. Barbara Harris - Born: 1951
  7. Tripticon: Cary Grant (German)
  8. ^ Betty White: Cary Grant Today on
  9. Bob McKelvey: Hollywood's Zany Lover Reaches 80 on
  10. Morecambe & Sterling 2001, p. 215.
  11. Quoted from Google Books
  12. Nelson 2007, p. 180.
  13. Govoni 1973, p. 207.
  14. Roger Moore: The Autobiography: My Name is Bond ... James Bond IP Verlag, 2009, ISBN 978-3-931624-62-0 , pp. 185 f.
  15. Cary Grant - The smart gentleman from Hollywood , documentary (2017) ( Memento of the original from July 12, 2018 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (accessed on July 12, 2018) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  16. taz: A picture of a man
  17. Everyone would like to be Cary Grant ( Memento from October 5, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  18. ^ Cary Grant in the German dubbing index