Remembering Cary Grant

It has been 35 years since the death of beloved screen icon Cary Grant, who passed away aged 82 on 29 November 1986.

Born Archibald Leach on 18 January 1904, Grant took the name ‘Cary Grant’ at the request of Paramount Studios who signed the actor in the early 1930s. Hollywood legend says that he took ‘Cary’ based on an earlier stage role and ‘Grant’ from a list of options provided by the studio.

Hailing from Bristol, England, Grant crossed the Atlantic when he was 16, joining the Pender Troupe, a group of performers whose acts included clowns and acrobats, before reaching critical acclaim as one of Hollywood’s leading men in a career that span four decades.

His early performance days with the Pender Troupe, as well as roles in vaudeville, no doubt shaped Grant, as he became known as one of the greatest comedic actors in classic Hollywood history, with an easy charm and natural grace.

After contracts with various studios, including Paramount Studios, RKO Pictures and Columbia Pictures, Grant was one of the first actors to break away from the studio system in order to achieve more control over his career. Financially this paid off; for his performance in To Catch a Thief (1955) he received $700,000 (his 10% of the gross) while director-producer Alfred Hitchcock was paid $50,000.

Nominated for two Academy Awards, as well as a host of other major awards, Grant was awarded the Academy Honorary Award in 1970 for his unique mastery of the art of screen acting with the respect and affection of his colleagues.

Grant retired from acting after the release of his last film Walk, Don’t Work (1966) to raise his newborn daughter, Jennifer. Married five times and dubbed unlucky in love attributed to his unhappy upbringing, he was survived by his fifth wife, Barbara Harris, and Jennifer.

Films I’ve watched:

Essential Grant I have yet to watch according to the BFI:

  • The Awful Truth (1937)
  • Holiday (1938)
  • Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
  • The Philadelphia Story (1940)
  • Notorious (1946)
  • Monkey Business (1952)
Read my Top 10 films starring Classic Hollywood’s Cary Grant on Top 10 Films.

4 thoughts on “Remembering Cary Grant

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  1. I am so glad you talked about Cary Grant who was a gentleman inside and out. Many actresses could count on him as a personal friend like Grace Kelly and Ingrid Bergman. So sad that Hitchcock only got that amount when he was such a visionary but he was not a good businessman.

  2. Cary was indeed very canny when it came to contractual matters, the few freelancers of the period including Carole Lombard and Barbara Stanwyck all seemed to share that trait.

    You’ve seen a lot of his great films, I LOVE Indiscreet and Mr. Blandings, and have several others still to discover. Of those you haven’t seen I recommend Holiday and Notorious most highly. I’d also add one I don’t see on either of your lists-The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer. It’s a real charmer with Cary as a put upon artist pursued by teenage Shirley Temple while older sister judge Myrna Loy looks on disapprovingly. It won the Oscar for Best Screenplay.

    1. Thanks for your suggestions, Joel. I haven’t come across Holiday or Notorious on any of my streaming services yet, but Bachelor Knight, as it is known here in the UK, is available. I’ll check it out soon.

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