Archibald Alexander Leach (January 18, 1904 - November 29, 1986), better known by his stage name Cary Grant, was a British-American actor. With his distinctive yet not quite placeable Mid-Atlantic accent, he was noted as perhaps the foremost exemplar of the debonair leading man: handsome, virile, charismatic and charming.
He was named the second Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute. His popular classic films include The Awful Truth (1937), Bringing Up Baby (1938), Gunga Din (1939), Only Angels Have Wings (1939), His Girl Friday (1940), The Philadelphia Story (1940), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), Notorious (1946), To Catch A Thief (1955), An Affair to Remember (1957), North by Northwest (1959), and Charade (1963).
At the 42nd Academy Awards the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored him with an Honorary Award "for his unique mastery of the art of screen acting with the respect and affection of his colleagues".
Early life and career
Archibald Alexander Leach was born in Horfield, Bristol, United Kingdom in 1904 to Elsie Maria Kingdon (1877-1973) and Elias James Leach (1873-1935). An only child, he had a confused and unhappy childhood, attending Bishop Road Primary School. His father placed his mother in a mental institution when he was nine and his mother never overcame her depression after the death of a previous child. His father had told him that she had gone away on a "long holiday" and it was not until he was in his thirties that Leach discovered her alive, in an institutionalized care facility.
He was expelled from the Fairfield Grammar School in Bristol in 1918. He subsequently joined the "Bob Pender stage troupe" and travelled with the group to the United States as a stilt walker in 1920 at the age of 16, on a two-year tour of the country. He was processed at Ellis Island on July 28, 1920. When the troupe returned to the UK, he decided to stay in the US and continue his stage career.
Still under his birth name, he performed on the stage at The Muny in St. Louis, Missouri, in such shows as Irene (1931); Music in May (1931); Nina Rosa (1931); Rio Rita (1931); Street Singer (1931); The Three Musketeers (1931); and Wonderful Night (1931).
After some success in light Broadway comedies, he went to Hollywood in 1931, where he acquired the name Cary Lockwood. He chose the name Lockwood after the surname of his character in a recent play called Nikki. He signed with Paramount Pictures, but while studio bosses were impressed with him, they were less than impressed with his adopted stage name. They decided that the name Cary was OK, but Lockwood had to go due to a similarity with another actor's name. It was after browsing through a list of the studio's preferred surnames, that Cary Grant was born. Grant chose the name because the initials C and G had already proved lucky for Clark Gable and Gary Cooper, two of Hollywood's then-biggest movie stars.
Having already appeared as leading man opposite Marlene Dietrich in Blonde Venus (1932), his stardom was given a further boost by Mae West when she chose him for her leading man in two of her most successful films, She Done Him Wrong and I'm No Angel (both 1933). I'm No Angel was a tremendous financial success and, along with She Done Him Wrong, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, saved Paramount from bankruptcy. Paramount put Grant in a series of indifferent films until 1936, when he signed with Columbia Pictures. His first major comedy hit was when he was loaned to Hal Roach's studio for the 1937 Topper (which was distributed by MGM).
Grant starred in some of the classic screwball comedies, including Bringing Up Baby (1938) with Katharine Hepburn, His Girl Friday (1940) with Rosalind Russell, Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) featuring Priscilla Lane, and Monkey Business (1952) opposite Ginger Rogers and Marilyn Monroe. Under the tutelage of director Leo McCarey, his role in The Awful Truth (1937) with Irene Dunne was the pivotal film in the establishment of Grant's screen persona. These performances solidified his appeal, and The Philadelphia Story (1940), with Hepburn and James Stewart, showcased his best-known screen persona: the charming if sometimes unreliable man, formerly married to an intelligent and strong-willed woman who first divorced him, then realized that he was with all his faults irresistible.
Grant was one of Hollywood's top box-office attractions for several decades. He was a versatile actor, who did demanding physical comedy in movies like Gunga Din (1939) with the skills he had learned on the stage. Howard Hawks said that Grant was "so far the best that there isn't anybody to be compared to him".
Grant was a favorite actor of Alfred Hitchcock, notorious for disliking actors, who said that Grant was "the only actor I ever loved in my whole life". Grant appeared in such Hitchcock classics as Suspicion (1941), Notorious (1946), To Catch a Thief (1955) and North by Northwest (1959). Biographer Patrick McGilligan wrote that, in 1965, Hitchcock asked Grant to star in Torn Curtain (1966), only to learn that Grant had decided to retire after making one more film, Walk, Don't Run (1966); Paul Newman was cast instead in Torn Curtain, opposite Julie Andrews.
In the mid-1950s, Grant formed his own production company, Grantley Productions, and produced a number of movies distributed by Universal, such as Operation Petticoat (1959), Indiscreet (1958), That Touch of Mink (co-starring with Doris Day, 1962), and Father Goose (1964). In 1963, he appeared opposite Audrey Hepburn in Charade (1963). His last feature fim was Walk, Don't Run (1966) with Samantha Eggar.
Grant was once considered a maverick as he was the first actor to "go independent," effectively bucking the old studio system, which almost completely controlled what an actor could or could not do. In this way, Grant was able to control every aspect of his career. He decided which movies he was going to appear in, he had personal choice of the directors and his co-stars and at times, even negotiated a share of the gross, something unheard of at the time, but now common among A-list stars.
Grant was nominated for two Academy Awards in the 1940s. He was denied the Oscar throughout his active career because he was one of the first actors to be independent of the major studios. Grant received a special Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1970. In 1981, he was accorded the Kennedy Center Honors.
Retirement and death
Although Grant had retired from the screen, he remained active in other areas. In the late 1960s, he accepted a position on the board of directors at Faberg. By all accounts this position was not honorary as some had assumed, as Grant was regularly attending meetings and his mere appearance at a product launch would almost certainly guarantee its success. The position also permitted use of a private plane, which Grant could use to fly to see his daughter wherever her mother, Dyan Cannon, was working. He later joined the boards of Hollywood Park, Western Airlines (now Delta Air Lines), and MGM.
In the last few years of his life, Grant undertook tours of the United States in a one man show. It was called "A Conversation with Cary Grant", in which he would show clips from his films and answer audience questions. Grant was preparing for a performance at the Adler Theater in Davenport, Iowa on the afternoon of 29 November 1986 when he suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage. (He had also suffered a minor stroke in October 1984.) He died at 11:22 pm in St. Luke's Hospital.
Grant was married five times, and was dogged by rumors that he was bisexual. He wed Virginia Cherrill on February 10, 1934. She divorced him on March 26, 1935, following charges that Grant had hit her. He married Barbara Hutton and became a father figure to her son, Lance Reventlow. The couple were derisively nicknamed "Cash and Cary," although in an extensive prenuptial agreement Grant refused any financial settlement in the event of a divorce. After divorcing in 1945, they remained lifelong friends. Grant always bristled at the accusation that he married for money: "I may not have married for very sound reasons, but money was never one of them."
Grant married Betsy Drake on December 25, 1949. He appeared with her in two films. This would prove to be his longest marriage, ending on August 14, 1962. Drake introduced Grant to LSD, and in the early 60s he related how treatment with the hallucinogenic drug legal at the time at a prestigious California clinic had finally brought him inner peace after yoga, hypnotism, and mysticism had proved ineffective.
He eloped with Dyan Cannon on July 22, 1965 in Las Vegas. Their daughter, Jennifer Grant, was born prematurely on February 26, 1966. He frequently called her his "best production", and regretted that he had not had children sooner. The marriage was troubled from the beginning and Cannon left him in December 1966, claiming that Grant flew into frequent rages and spanked her when she "disobeyed" him. The divorce, finalized in 1968, was bitter and public, and custody fights over their daughter went on for nearly ten years.
On 11 April 1981 Grant married long-time companion, British hotel PR agent Barbara Harris, who was 47 years his junior. They renewed their vows on their fifth wedding anniversary. In 2001, Harris married former All-American quarterback David Jaynes.
Grant was allegedly involved with costume designer Orry-Kelly when he first moved to Manhattan, and lived with Randolph Scott off and on for twelve years. Richard Blackwell wrote that Grant and Scott were "deeply, madly in love", and alleged eyewitness accounts of their physical affection have been published. Hedda Hopper and screenwriter Arthur Laurents have also alleged that Grant was bisexual, the latter writing that Grant "told me he threw pebbles at my window one night but was luckless". Alexander D'Arcy, who appeared with Grant in The Awful Truth, said he knew that he and Scott "lived together as a gay couple", adding: "I think Cary knew that people were saying things about him. I don't think he tried to hide it." The two men frequently accompanied each other to parties and premieres and were unconcerned when photographs of them cozily preparing dinner together at home were published in fan magazines.
Grant's widow, Barbara, has disputed that there was a relationship with Scott. When Chevy Chase joked about Grant being gay in a television interview, he sued him for slander; they settled out of court. However, he did admit in an interview that his first two wives had accused him of being homosexual. Betsy Drake commented: "Why would I believe that Cary was homosexual when we were busy fucking? Maybe he was bisexual. He lived 43 years before he met me. I don't know what he did".
Grant was a Republican, but did not think movie stars should publicly make political declarations. During his career some people considered him to be a left-winger, as he publicly condemned McCarthyism in 1953 and vocally supported his blacklisted friend Charlie Chaplin. Grant was also criticized by right-wing columnist Hedda Hopper for vacationing in the Soviet Union after filming Indiscreet (1958). He appeared to worsen the situation by remarking to an interviewer "I don't care what kind of government they have over there, I never had such a good time in my life". In June 1968 he made a public appeal for gun control following the assassination of his friend, Democratic Senator Robert F. Kennedy. After his retirement from acting, Grant was active in a number of Republican causes. He introduced First Lady Betty Ford to the audience at the Republican National Convention in 1976. He was also a vocal supporter of his friend Ronald Reagan during the 1980s.
Ralph Rexford Bellamy (June 17, 1904 – November 29, 1991) was an American actor with a career that spanned sixty-two years.
Bellamy was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Lilla Louise (née Smith), a native of Canada, and Charles Rexford Bellamy. He ran away from home when he was fifteen and managed to get into a road show. He toured with road shows before finally landing in New York. He began acting on stage there and by 1927 owned his own theatre company. In 1931, he made his film debut and worked constantly throughout the decade first as a lead then as a capable supporting actor. Bellamy was cast in the lead role in the 1936 film Straight from the Shoulder and also in the 1937 film It Can't Last Forever with Edward J. Pawley.
Film and television career
He received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Awful Truth (1937) with Irene Dunne and Cary Grant, and played a similar part, that of a naive boyfriend competing with the sophisticated Grant character, in His Girl Friday (1940). He portrayed detective Ellery Queen in a few films during the 1940s, but as his film career did not progress, he returned to the stage, where he continued to perform throughout the fifties. Highly regarded within the industry, he was a founder of the Screen Actors Guild and served as President of Actors' Equity from 1952-1964.
Throughout the 1930s and 40s, Bellamy was regularly seen socially with a select circle of friends known affectionately as the Irish Mafia. This group consisted of a group of Hollywood A-listers who were mainly of Irish descent (despite Bellamy having no Irish family connections himself). Others included James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, Spencer Tracy, Lynne Overman, Frank Morgan and Frank McHugh.
In 1949, Bellamy starred in the drama Man Against Crime on the DuMont Television Network; the program lasted until 1956, when the lead role was taken by Frank Lovejoy, who thereafter starred in NBC's Meet McGraw detective series. Bellamy was a regular panelist on the CBS television game show To Tell the Truth during its initial run. He also starred in the television detective series Follow That Man (aka "Man Against Crime"). Bellamy starred as Willard Mitchell, along with Patricia Breslin and Paul Fix, in the 1961 episode "The Haven" of CBS's anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson. About this same time, he appeared too on the NBC anthology series, The Barbara Stanwyck Show.
During the 1963-1964 television season, Bellamy co-starred with Jack Ging in the NBC medical drama The Eleventh Hour, in the role of a psychiatrist in private practice. Wendell Corey had appeared in the first season of the series.
He appeared on Broadway in one of his most famous roles, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Sunrise at Campobello. He later starred in the 1960 film version. In the summer of 1961, Bellamy hosted nine original episodes of a CBS Western anthology series called Frontier Justice, a Dick Powell Four Star Television production.
On film, he also starred in the Western The Professionals (1966) as an oil tycoon, and Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby (1968) as an evil physician, before turning to television during the 1970s. An Emmy Award nomination for the mini-series The Winds of War (1983) - in which Bellamy reprised his Sunrise at Campobello role of Franklin Roosevelt - brought him back into the spotlight. This was quickly followed by his role as Randolph Duke, a conniving billionaire commodities trader in Trading Places (1983), alongside Don Ameche.
In the 1988 Eddie Murphy film, Coming to America, Bellamy and co-star Don Ameche reprised a one-scene cameo of their roles as the Duke brothers. After Randolph and Mortimer Duke lost their enormous fortune at the end of Trading Places, in Coming to America, the brothers are shown homeless and living on the streets. Prince Akeem (Murphy) gives them a paper bag filled with money, which they gratefully accept, exclaiming, "We're back!"
In 1984, he was presented with a Life Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild, and in 1987 received an Honorary Academy Award "for his unique artistry and his distinguished service to the profession of acting".
Among his later roles was a memorable appearance as a once-brilliant but increasingly forgetful lawyer sadly skewered by the Jimmy Smits character on an episode of L.A. Law.
He continued working regularly and gave his final performance in Pretty Woman (1990).
Bellamy was married 4 times, first to Alice Delbridge (1927–1930), then Catherine Willard (1931–1945). He was married to organist Ethel Smith from (1945 to 1947), and, finally, to Alice Murphy (1949–1991).
He opened the popular Palm Springs Racquet Club in Palm Springs, California with fellow actor Charles Farrell.
Bellamy died on November 29, 1991, at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, from a lung ailment. He was 87 years old. Bellamy was buried in Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.
Rosalind Russell (June 4, 1907 – November 28, 1976) was an American actress of stage and screen, perhaps best known for her role as a fast-talking newspaper reporter in the Howard Hawks screwball comedy His Girl Friday, as well as the role of Mame Dennis in the film Auntie Mame. She won all 5 Golden Globes for which she was nominated, and was tied with Meryl Streep for wins until 2007 when Streep was awarded a sixth. Russell won a Tony Award in 1953 for Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Ruth in the Broadway show Wonderful Town (a musical based on the film My Sister Eileen, in which she also starred).
Russell was known for playing character roles, exceptionally wealthy, dignified ladylike women. She had a wide career span from the 1930s to the 1970s and attributed her long career to the fact that, although usually playing classy and glamorous roles, she never became a sex symbol, not being famous for her looks.
Rosalind Russell was one of seven siblings born in Waterbury, Connecticut, to James Edward and Clara A. (née McKnight) Russell, an Irish-American Catholic family. She was named after a ship on which her parents had traveled, not after the character from Shakespeare's As You Like It. She attended Roman Catholic schools, including Marymount College in Tarrytown, New York, before attending the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. Her parents thought Russell was studying to become a teacher, and were unaware that she was planning on becoming a stage comedienne.
Russell started her career as a fashion model and was in many Broadway shows. Against parental objections, she took a job at a stock company for seven months at Saranac Lake and then Hartford, Connecticut. Afterwards, she moved to Boston, where she acted for a year at a theatre group for Edward E. Clive. Later, she appeared in a revue in New York. There, she took voice lessons and built a career in the opera, which was short-lived due to her inability to reach high notes.
In the early 1930s, Russell went west to Los Angeles to be a contract actress for Universal Pictures. When she first arrived on the lot, she was ignored by most of the crew and later told the press she felt terrible and humiliated at the studio, which had influence on her self-confidence. Unhappy with Universal's leadership, and second-class film status at the time, Russell set her sights on Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and was able to get out of her Universal contract on her own terms. When MGM first approached her for a screen test, Russell was not enthusiastic, remembering Universal. When she met MGM's Benny Thau and Ben Piazza, she was surprised, as they were "the soul of understanding." Her screen test was directed by Harold S. Bucquet, and she later recalled that she was hired because of a close-up he took of her.
Picked up by MGM, Russell debuted in Evelyn Prentice (1934); and, although the role was small, she was noticed, with one critic saying that she was "convincing as the woman scorned." She starred in many comedies, such as Forsaking All Others (1934), and Four's a Crowd (1938), as well as dramas, including Craig's Wife (1936) (which would be the film's second of three remakes; Joan Crawford did the third) and The Citadel (1938). Russell was first acclaimed when she co-starred with Robert Young in the MGM drama West Point of the Air (1935). One critic wrote: "Rosalind Russell as the 'other woman' in the story gives an intelligent and deft handling to her scenes with Young." She quickly rose to fame and, by 1935, was seen as a replacement of actress Myrna Loy, as she took many roles Loy was initially set for. Furthermore, one journalist claimed that she was the only newcomer of 1935 destined for stardom.
In her first years at Hollywood, Russell was, both in her personal life and film career, characterized as a sophisticated lady. This dissatisfied Russell, who claimed in a 1936 interview:
"Being typed as a lady is the greatest misfortune possible to a motion picture actress. It limits your characterizations, confines you to play feminine sops and menaces and the public never highly approves of either. An impeccably dressed lady is always viewed with suspicion in real life and when you strut onto the screen with beautiful clothes and charming manners, the most naive of theatergoers senses immediately that you are in a position to do the hero no good. I earnestly want to get away from this. First, because I want to improve my career and professional life and, secondly because I am tired of being a clothes horse — a sort of hothouse orchid in a stand of wild flowers."
Russell approached director Frank Lloyd for help changing her image; but, instead of helping her, Lloyd cast her as a wealthy aristocrat in Under Two Flags (1936).
In 1939, she was cast as catty gossip Sylvia Fowler in the all-female comedy The Women, directed by George Cukor. The film was a major hit, boosting her career and establishing her reputation as a comedienne.
Russell continued to display her talent for comedy in the classic screwball comedy His Girl Friday (1940), directed by Howard Hawks. In the film, a reworking of Ben Hecht's story The Front Page, Russell played quick-witted ace reporter Hildy Johnson, who was also the ex-wife of her newspaper editor Walter Burns (Cary Grant).
In the 1940s, she made comedies such as The Feminine Touch (1941) and Take a Letter, Darling (1942), dramas including Sister Kenny (1946), and Mourning Becomes Electra (1947), and a murder mystery The Velvet Touch (1948).
Over the course of her career, Russell earned four Academy Award nominations for Best Actress: My Sister Eileen (1942); Sister Kenny (1946); Mourning Becomes Electra (1947); and the movie version of Auntie Mame (1958). She received a Special Academy Award, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, in 1972. The awarded trophy for the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award is an Oscar statuette.
Russell appeared as the Mystery Guest on What's My Line? on January 4, 1953. During her appearance, like most other Mystery Guests, Russell disguised her voice. Her voice however, was so well disguised that Dorothy Kilgallen was convinced that the Mystery Guest was a man. After Russell's identity was guessed, she told the panel that her voice was so hoarse from "overwork in rehearsing" for her upcoming role in Wonderful Town that it made it very easy to disguise her voice in that way.
Russell scored a big hit on Broadway with her Tony Award-winning performance in Wonderful Town (1953), a musical version of her successful film of a decade earlier, My Sister Eileen. Russell reprised her starring role for a 1958 television special.
Russell returned to her native Waterbury for the world premiere of her movie The Girl Rush at the State Theater on August 18, 1955.
Perhaps her most memorable performance was in the title role of the long-running stage hit Auntie Mame and the subsequent 1958 movie version, in which she played an eccentric aunt whose orphan nephew comes to live with her. When asked which role she was most closely identified with, she replied that strangers who spotted her still called out, "Hey, Auntie Mame!" She received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Play in 1957 for her iconic role. Patrick Dennis dedicated his second Auntie Mame book Around the World with Auntie Mame to "the one and only Rosalind Russell" in 1958.
From the late 1950s to the mid-1960s, she continued to shine with older roles in a large number of movies, giving notable performances in Picnic (1955), A Majority of One (1961), Five Finger Exercise (1962), Gypsy (1962), and The Trouble with Angels (1966).
Russell was the logical choice for reprising her role as Auntie Mame when its Broadway musical adaptation Mame was set for production in 1966. She claimed to have turned it down since she preferred to move on to different roles. In reality, she did not want to burden the public with her growing health problems, which included rheumatoid arthritis.
In addition to her acting career, Russell also wrote the story for the film "The Unguarded Moment", a prescient story of sexual harassment, released in 1956, starring Esther Williams.
She married Danish-American producer Frederick "Freddie" Brisson on October 25, 1941. Their marriage lasted 35 years, ending with her death. They had one child in 1943, a son named Lance.
Russell died after a long battle with breast cancer on November 28, 1976. She was survived by her husband and son. She is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
Rosalind Russell has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 1708 Vine Street.
Her autobiography, written with Chris Chase, Life is a Banquet, was published a year after her death. In the foreword (written by her husband), he states that Russell had a mental breakdown sometime in the early 1940s. Details are scant (perhaps in 1944, the year she made no films), but it indicates that her health problems can be traced back to the 1940s.
In 2009, a documentary film Life Is a Banquet: The Life of Rosalind Russell, narrated by Kathleen Turner, was shown at film festivals across the U.S. and on some PBS stations.
Photograph is from the 1940 movie, His Girl Friday & was Hand Oil Tinted by artist Margaret A. Rogers.