In the TV show "To Tell the Truth," there were always three individuals pretending to be the prominent or accomplished figure, an adventurer or a war hero, and the panel had to choose who was the genuine article.
But Cary Grant stumped the panel.
Each of the three individuals named Cary Grant was extraordinarily handsome, suave, charming, and irresistible even though one was named Roger Thornhill, the second was a fast-talking newspaper editor, and the third showed up at the top of the Empire State Building to meet Deborah Kerr but she, though equally eager, gets hit by a car in the street below, and they do not consummate their affair to remember.
Born Archie Leach on January 18, 1904 in Bristol (England), Cary Grant spoke in an accent that is somehow British-sunding and yet is not out of place in any set of circumstances in the US. His verstility extended from the realm of Hitchcock ("Suspicion," "Notorious," "To Catch a Thief," "North by Northwest") to comedies with leading ladies like Irene Dunne, Katharine Hepburn, Jean Arthur, Rosaline Russell, Ingrid Bergman and later Grace Kelly, Eva Marie Saint, and Audrey Hepburn. Possibly the handsomest leading man in the movies, though not the sexiest.
Origin of name: Boring Hollywood legend has it that "Cary" came from his stage role as a guy named Cary in a musical with Fay Wray, and "Grant" was assigned to him by the studio. You and I can do better. "Grant me an hour, and I will carry you over the altar," he said sheepishly.
Marital status: five times, with wife #3 (Betsy Drake) the marriage that lasted longest. He made these comies with Katharine Hepburn.The Philadelphia Story, Bringing Up Baby, Holiday. With Irene Dunne he starred in The Awful Truth. And the same rival, played by Ralph Bellamy, is bested both there and in His Girl Friday.
My candidate for best Hitchcock antagonist is James Mason in North by Northwest with Claude Rains a close second (Notorious). Last romantic hurrah: Charade (with Audrey Hepburn). The Stanley Donen-drected hilm also expoits the talents of Walter Matthau, James Coburn, George Kennedy, and the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Gene Kelly doing a carefree dance on the banks of the Seine (though filmed on a studio) is lovingly recalled by Miss Hepburn (Mrs Charles Lambert) as the two hold hans under a bridge and a bateau mouche glides by. Miss Hepburn is a perfect latter-day Cary Grant accomplice in the mode of Grace Kelly and Eva Marie Saint.
Cary Grant took LSD more than 100 times, having been introduced to the narcotic by Betsy Drake. It helped him more than a posse of doctors in confronting his identity. Best quote: "Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant." The plot conceit generating North by Northwest, in which a Madison Avenue ad executive is mistaken for a CIA agent who doesn't exist, is based on an incident in Grant's biography.
A rose is just a rose: "I never had so much fun since Archie Leach died," he says in His Girl Friday. If you watch Capra's Arsenic and Old Lace, you'll see the grave of Archie Leach.
Scandalous posthumous fact that doesn't shock anyone anymore: he may have been bi-sexual (LTR with flatmate Randoph Scott).
Dodger Fan Info: Shared exclusive box seats with Frank Sinatra and Gregory Peck at Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine, Los Angeles. Did not pay very close attention to the games.
Retirement job: Became a director of the Fabergé company and promoted the fragrance firm's products.
Vital stats: Rising sign Libra, moon in Aquarius; Water Cat (Chinese astrology); six feet one and a half inches tall. -- DL