Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Happy Birthday, Cary Grant! (1/18/04-11/29/86)

Note: I used the Wikipedia synopsis for help, but I did not plagiarize and I added many of my own facts.

Archibald Alexander Leach was born to Elsie Kingdon and Elias Leach in Hornfield, Bristol. 
His childhood was quite unpleasant: His mother dealt with depression, causing his father to send her to a mental institution, telling nine-year-old Leach that his mother was dead. He did not discover her alive until he was in his thirties.

After being expelled from Fairfield Grammar School, Leach joined the Bob Pender stage troupe and traveled with them to the United States in 1920. He later stayed in the US and appeared in several shows, some of them include Irene (1931), The Three Musketeers ('31), and Wonderful Night ('31). 

After moderate success on Broadway, he went to Hollywood in the nineteen-thirties where he obtained the name Cary Lockwood. He signed a contract with Paramount Pictures, but the studio disliked his stage name. While the name "Cary" was approved, Lockwood could not be used because of similarity to another actors' name. After looking over a list of the studios' available surnames, the name "Cary Grant" was born. Grant liked his stage name because of the initials C and G, as they had done well with actors Clark Gable and Gary Cooper.

After appearing as Marlene Dietrich's leading man in Blonde Venus (1932), he became extremely successful after acting alongside Mae West in She Done Him Wrong and I'm No Angel (both 1933).  
Grant was in a series of box office flops, until 1937 when he signed to Columbia Pictures. His first successful comedy was Hal Roach's 1937 film Topper.

Grant is largely remembered for starring in many classic screwball comedies, including The Awful Truth (1937), Bringing Up Baby (1938), His Girl Friday (1940), and Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), to name a few. These films confirmed his stardom, but it was his role in The Philadelphia Story (1940) that made him one of Hollywood's top leading men.

Grant is also greatly remembered for his four films with legendary director Alfred Hitchcock: Suspicion (1941), Notorious (1946), To Catch a Thief (1955), and North By Northwest (1959). Hitchcock said was "the only actor I ever loved in my whole life", while Grant cited Hitchcock as his favorite director. 

Grant later formed a production company, Grantley Productions, and produced several films including Operation Petticoat (1959), Indiscreet (1958), That Touch of Mink (1962), and Father Goose (1964).
He also starred with  Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember (1957), and Audrey Hepburn in Charade (1963). Grant's last film role was Walk, Don't Run (1966), costarring Samantha Eggar and Jim Hutton.

Grant was nominated for two Best Actor Academy Awards in the 1940's, for his roles in Penny Serenade (1941, and None But the Lonely Heart (1944). In 1970, he received an Academy Award for lifetime achievement. He was also given the Kennedy Center Honors in 1981.

Grant was married five times: to Virgina  Cherrill (1934-1935), Barbara Hutton (1942-1945), Betsy Drake (1949-1962), Dyan Cannon (1965-1967), and Barbara Harris (1981-1986). He has a daughter, Jennifer Grant by wife Dyan Cannon.

Grant was planning a performance at the Adler Theater in Iowa on November 29, 1986, when he underwent cerebral hemorrhage. He had recently suffered from a stroke in 1984. He was pronounced dead at 11:22pm at St. Luke's hospital. 

In 1999, the American Film Institute named Grant the second greatest male actor of all time.

In 2001, a statue of Grant was placed at Millennium Square in his home of Bristol, England.

In 2004,  Premiere Magazine named Grant "The Greatest Movie Star of All Time". Critic Richard Schickel said of Grant: "He's the best star actor there ever was in the movies."

Cary Grant is one of my favorite actors of all time, and a true legend. Today, as we celebrate what would have been his 107th birthday, I hope we all remember the example he sets for actors everywhere.

“In the universe of the imagination, as long as there are movies and audiences who seek to find in them the reflection of their highest hopes and their deepest dreams, Cary Grant’s star will indeed shine forever, offering the illusion of the pleasure of his company as it guides us along the most difficult journey of all: the one into ourselves.”
-Taken from "Cary Grant: A Biography" by Marc Eliot

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