Carly Grant Biography, real name Archibald Alexander Leach, was a British-born American actor who became one of Hollywood’s most well-known and enduring stars. He was born in Bristol, Gloucestershire, England on January 18, 1904, and died in Davenport, Iowa, on November 29, 1986.
At age 13, Archie Leach fled his home to join the Bob Pender Troupe of comedians and acrobats as a juggler in order to escape poverty and a discordant family. He frequently performed in London’s music halls, where he picked up a Cockney accent. During the company’s 1920 American tour, Leach settled in the country and spent the following several years honing his acting abilities as a variety of roles, including a vaudeville straight man, a stilt walker at Steeplechase Park, and a barker at Coney Island.
His nationwide performances in a variety of stage comedies and musicals in the late 1920s and early 1930s led to a deal with Paramount Pictures in 1932. Studio officials renamed the actor “Cary Grant,” a moniker he would officially adopt in 1941, because they believed “Archie Leach” was inappropriate for a leading man.
Grant originally made appearances for Paramount in a number of shorts and low-budget features, and he gained considerable notoriety for his portrayal as a wealthy playboy in the Marlene Dietrich picture Blonde Venus (1932). The next year, Grant rose to fame after Mae West cast him as the lead in two of her most popular movies, She Done Him Wrong and I’m No Angel (both 1933).
Grant developed a screen character of debonair charm and an air of witty intellect, while being a little restrained in these early movies. Grant was a charming and nonthreatening sex symbol and is recognized as one of the most attractive guys in movie history. His distinctive speaking voice, which was produced as a result of his unsuccessful attempts to lose his native Cockney accent, added to his appeal. It was clipped and frequently mimicked.
The several legendary films in which he appeared contributed significantly to his popularity on screen. Grant became one of the few top performers to freelance after his Paramount contract expired in 1935, giving him control over his career and the opportunity to select his own projects.
Grant made a name for himself in the screwball comedy and action-adventure genres in the late ’30s and early ’40s. He frequently costarred with Irene Dunne and Katharine Hepburn, both of whom were excellent actors. Hepburn, with whom he co-starred in the drag comedy Sylvia Scarlett (1935), Holiday (1938), Bringing Up Baby (1938), and the upper-class satire The Philadelphia Story (1940), and Dunne, with whom he co-produced the outrageous farces The Awful Truth (1937), My Favorite Wife (1940), and the comedic tearjerker Penny Serenade (1940). (1941).
Grant has demonstrated his ability to play tough action parts with notable performances in the well-liked Only Angels Have Wings and Gunga Din movies (both 1939). Other Grant favorites from this era include his roles as a whimsical poltergeist in Topper (1937) and as the endearingly cunning newspaper editor Walter Burns in His Girl Friday (1940), one of the finest comedies in film history. During this time, Grant worked with a number of well-known filmmakers, including Howard Hawks, George Cukor, Leo McCarey, George Stevens, Garson Kanin, and Frank Capra.
Some of Grant and Alfred Hitchcock’s best work was produced as a result of their collaboration. A little out of character, the roles Grant plays in the Hitchcock films have an undercurrent of darkness that is compellingly juxtaposed with his typically elegant demeanor. This choice by the filmmaker brought out some of the actor’s best performances. Grant portrayed an unsympathetic character who may or may not be a murderer in their first joint film, Suspicion (1941).
In one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most well-known films, Notorious (1946), he played a heartless American agent who manipulates the lady he loves (Ingrid Bergman) for his own gain. He gave an intriguing and genuinely unsettling performance. In the following decade, Grant starred in Hitchcock’s humorous and elegant caper To Catch a Thief (1955), which is remembered for its improvised exchanges between Grant and co-star Grace Kelly that are full of double entendres. The 1959 film North by Northwest, which is regarded as a great fusion of suspense and humor, marked a turning point in both Grant and Hitchcock’s careers.
His roles in classic movies like Mr. Lucky (1943), The Bishop’s Wife (1947), Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), I Was a Male War Bride (1949), Monkey Business (1952), and An Affair to Remember (1957) have endured the test of time far better than the work of many of his award-winning contemporaries.