The late Cary Grant was an actor who exuded supreme grace and elegance in his professional life which made him a favorite in many films from the 1930s to the 1960s. His on-screen persona was so well maintained that he was the definition of a leading man and despite numerous troubles on the personal front, the legendary Cary Grant continues to inspire awe through his screen work which included several Hitchcock films. Below we look at the life of the late great actor and the circumstances that resulted in his death.
Cary Grant’s Bio
Cary Grant was given birth to in Bristol, England on the 18th of January, 1904. He was then named Archie Leach and his father Elias was a clothing presser and homemaker. His mother who much is not known of was proclaimed dead when Cary Grant was only 10 years old but it would turn out that she had simply been committed to an institution by Grant’s father Elias. Elias had left his family for a job in Southampton and while there had taken up with another woman who he would have another child with. Young Cary Grant, therefore, found himself mostly alone in the world and at the age of 13, he began hanging around a local theatre before taking up with Bob Pender’s traveling performers. But his father demanded that he return to his education and so Cary Grant’s first attempts at performing were cut short.
In what some would see as tough luck, Cary Grant was expelled from school the following year and went back to Bob Pender’s traveling performers with his father’s permission. The group was his ticket to traveling the world even as he did everything from comedy bouts to acrobatics. The group visited New York City in 1920 and Cary Grant took that as his cue to go solo. His struggle as a young artist on his own in New York City then began.
He worked hard so much so that by the late 1920s he had already appeared severally on Broadway. He finally got a lead role in the 1932 musical called Nikki with Fay Wray. After the role which garnered Cary Grant some attention, he took a decision to move to Los Angeles. Paramount Studios gave the man who had so far been Archie Leach a contract and he took on a new identity at their request, becoming Cary Grant.
Cary Grant’s career and fame shot up from then on. His first feature film role happened in 1932 in This Is The Night and the rest, as they say, was history. He was the epitome of a leading man after this period and was featured on some of the greatest films of that time. His fame grew to an extent that by the early 1940s he became one of the first actors to become a free agent – not signed under contract to any of the film studios that used to rule Hollywood. This gave Cary Grant the leeway to pick his own parts and he became increasingly selective of the films that he appeared in but continued to appear in films until the late 1960s. He retired from filmmaking after playing a mature matchmaker in the 1966 Walk Don’t Run.
After the film, Cary Grant stayed in the public eye as director of the Fabergé company. He traveled around to promote the products of the firm’s fragrance brand which had made him its brand ambassador. The actor received numerous honors and awards for his contributions to the world of films even after he had retired. In 1970 he received an honorary Oscar for what was termed his mastery of the art of acting on screen.
Relationships – Spouse, Was He Gay?
Cary Grant may have been a leading man professionally but he never seemed to have things under control on the personal front. There is no evidence to support the thought that the legendary actor was gay. He, however, did not seem to win at heterosexual relationships either. He was married a total of five times and divorced four times. His ex-wives have often described his personality as controlling. In fact, his fourth wife, Dyan Cannon, wrote about their relationship in her 2011 book Dear Cary: My Life with Cary Grant. In the book, she claims that the actor forced her to take LSD which he took himself and often tried to dictate what she should wear.
The rest of his marriages and divorces are summarized below:
- February 9, 1934, saw Cary Grant getting married to Virginia Cherrill at the Caxton Hall registry office in London. On March 26, 1935, Cherrill divorced him amidst claims that the actor had hit her.
- In 1942 he got married to Barbara Hutton who had been one of the world’s wealthiest women after inheriting a tidy amount from her grandfather, Frank Winfield Woolworth. They were divorced in 1945 but remained really good friends.
- On the 25th of December 1949, Cary Grant again got married, this time to a co-star of two of his films named Betsy Drake. Their marriage also ended in divorce on the 14th of August 1962.
- The actor got married to Dyan Cannon, mentioned above, on the 22nd of July 1965. The marriage lasted only three years dissolving in March 1968.
- His final marriage was to a woman 47 years his junior named Barbara Harris. The two were married on April 11, 1981, and Harris was said to have had a positive impact on the final years of the actor’s life.
Who Are His Children?
Cary Grant despite his many marriages had only one child. His daughter Jennifer was born in 1966 out of the union between him and Dyan Cannon. Cary Grant was very attentive to his daughter even after the end of his marriage with Cannon. His daughter wrote a memoir on their relationship the same year as her mother did and titled it Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant.
What Killed Him?
Cary Grant had agreed to a public appearance in Davenport, Iowa on the 29th of November 1986 which he never made. While in his hotel room prior to the time he was expected at the theatre, he suffered a fatal stroke and died. The world never got a public funeral following his death, but quite a number of fans expressed great grief at his passing.