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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cary Grant (1904-86)

Archibald Alec Leach was born January 18, 1904, in Horfield, Bristol, England. His was a miserable childhood. His mother was mentally ill, having gone through a mental breakdown of the stillbirth of a child before him. She never got over that. His father took another woman and told the young boy that his mother took a long trip and would never return. He never knew what happened to her but, in the 1930s, would find her still alive, institutionalized in Bristol. In 1914, he was expelled from the Fairfield Grammar School. Six years later, he joined the Bob Pender Stage Troupe, which was going on a tour of the United States. This was a group which did all kinds of entertainment. Young "Archie" did it all, including athletic stunts. When the troupe returned to England in 1922, Archie decided to stay. He was now 18 years old.

He was in New York and had a distinguished career as a Broadway stage actor. He continued to use the name Archibald "Archie" Leach until 1931, when he went to Hollywood and got a contract with Paramount Pictures. He had originally wanted to go by the name, Cary Lockwood. He was told that sounded too close to another actor. He came up with the name Cary Grant, since it had the letters C and G, like Clark Gable and Gary Cooper.

Cary Grant was under contract to Paramount, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, and RKO. Alfred Hitchcock remarked that Cary was the only actor Hitchcock ever liked. While in his motion picture acting glory days, Cary made a number of radio shows, mostly for CBS. He did several episodes of the Lux Radio Theater. Then there were the other motion picture radio shows of the same kind. In the 1950s, his movie Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) was turned into one of the last great radio situation comedies. It was the only OTR show this writer can think of that was sponsored by an airline, TWA (Trans World Airlines).

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