Archibald Alexander Leach (18 January 1904 29 November 1986) was a handsome and athletic, if fairly typical, English bloke. Following the bizarre (and bizarrely literalnote ) loss of his mother at an early age, he ran away from home and went into acting. After a stint touring Britain, he crossed the Atlantic to Broadway and from there ended up in Hollywood, which projected him onto the silver screen as Cary Grant, the 20th Century's screen epitome of suave sophistication.
It's a career which spanned thirty years. Some of his more famous films were the screwball comedies His Girl Friday, Arsenic and Old Lace and Bringing Up Baby, the comedy-soap opera The Philadelphia Story, the classic romance An Affair to Remember, and several collaborations with the director Alfred Hitchcock, most notably North By Northwest. A poll by the American Film Institute named Grant the second greatest male star in American movie history, behind only Humphrey Bogart.
He retired from acting in 1966, feeling, perhaps correctly, that as he aged the movie world was beginning to pass him by, and unwilling to accept the sort of character work that older actors usually have to settle for. In 1970, he happily accepted an honorary Oscar for his body of work, but he never again appeared on-screen. In later years, he married a succession of beautiful younger women, most famously Dyan Cannon, 33 years his junior, and experimented with LSD (back when it was still legal) as a means of confronting his inner demons.
One of Grant's most famous (and easily imitated) characteristics was his rhythmic speech pattern, which his fans thought added to the air of sophistication of his characters. Ironically, he spoke that way to keep his working-class Bristol accent at bay. (On the rare occasion where he played a working-class character, like Gunga Din or None But the Lonely Heart, he let the Bristol accent out.) In the film Some Like It Hot, Tony Curtis does a riff on Grant's deliberate cadencing whenever his character pretends to be a millionaire playboy. Jack Lemmon's character confronts him on this with the line "where did you get that phony accent? No-bawdy tawks loik theht!"note
He never actually said, "Judy, Judy, Judy!", a line oft-used by the aforementioned impressionists. According to legend, a fan magazine sent a telegram to inquire "HOW OLD CARY GRANT?", to which he replied "OLD CARY GRANT FINE. HOW YOU?" Sadly, Grant denied that this ever happened, though he acknowledged that it would've been awesome if it did.
Legend also has it that Ian Fleming at least partially modeled his famous James Bond character on Grant. In fact, when Howard Hawks was thinking about filming Casino Royale at the start of The '60s, Grant was his choice to play Bond.
Grant was married five times, and fathered his only child, Jennifer Grant, with Cannon (his fourth wife) at the age of 62. He died of a stroke twenty years later. Jennifer Grant named her son Cary too in his honor.
Cary Grant films with pages on this wiki:
- Blonde Venus (1932)
- Merrily We Go to Hell (1932)
- This is the Night (1932)
- Alice in Wonderland (1933)
- The Eagle and the Hawk (1933)
- She Done Him Wrong (1933)
- Sylvia Scarlett (1935)
- Suzy (1936)
- The Awful Truth (1937)
- The Toast of New York (1937)
- Topper (1937)
- Bringing Up Baby (1938)
- Holiday (1938)
- Gunga Din (1939)
- In Name Only (1939)
- Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
- His Girl Friday (1940)
- My Favorite Wife (1940)
- Penny Serenade (1941)
- The Philadelphia Story (1940)
- Suspicion (1941)
- Talk of the Town (1942)
- Destination Tokyo (1943)
- Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
- None but the Lonely Heart (1944)
- Night and Day (1946)
- Notorious (1946)
- The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947)
- The Bishop's Wife (1947)
- Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)
- I Was a Male War Bride (1949)
- Monkey Business (1952)
- Dream Wife (1953)
- To Catch a Thief (1955)
- An Affair to Remember (1957)
- North By Northwest (1959)
- Operation Petticoat (1959)
- That Touch of Mink (1962)
- Charade (1963)
- Father Goose (1964)
- Walk, Don't Run (1966) — his last film
Tropes common with his characters
- The Cast Showoff: Before he became an actor, Cary trained in London as acrobat, so he often did his own stunts.
- Deadpan Snarker: Most of his characters' trademark.
- The Everyman: Grant had the charisma to make the majority of his characters this even if they weren't in relatable professions (his scientist roles in Bringing Up Baby and Monkey Business, for example).
- Fake American: It was rare when he wasn't. It became incredibly ironic whenever his characters would stubbornly have monologues about American values, and boast about the patriotism they wore on their sleeve, especially in The Talk of the Town when his character (who'd been framed for arson and broke out of jail) was cold towards the extremely WASPy lawyer played by Ronald Colman (who was also English) for being too out of touch.
- It's All About Me: Along with Manipulative Bastard, some of Cary's characters (particularly in his screwball comedy films) were jerkasses that would do anything to get their own way. Most famously was C. K. Dexter Haven from The Philadelphia Story, who pulled a few strings by sending intrepid reporters to spite ex-wife Tracy's engagement, and this was taken Up to Eleven in His Girl Friday.
- Lantern Jaw of Justice: His cleft chin is often referenced and lampshaded in his films. Most memorably, Audrey Hepburn in Charade stroked it and said, "How do you shave in there?"
- Mr. Fanservice: He was the sex symbol of the 30's and 40's.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: Grant is forever one of the few men in Hollywood history who oozed sex appeal without taking his three-piece suit off.
- Shower Scene: An admittedly-strange trait in a few of his movies is showing him either showering or bathing.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: One of the most famous examples of Hollywood's Golden Age, along with Clark Gable. If Grant's character was in a love triangle, the other suitor didn't stand a chance.