TCM Summer Under the Stars: Day Sixteen — Cary Grant

Sophistication, personified.

Cary Grant. The very name conjures up an image of suave sophistication, and impeccable elegance. But beneath the debonair veneer was an actor with talent and depth.

It was an unbeatable combination.


Cary Grant was born Archibald Alexander Leach in Bristol, England, on January 18, 1904 to Elsie and Elias Leach, a pants presser. Elsie suffered from clinical depression; she’d had another son who died shortly before his first birthday and reportedly never got over the tragedy. One day, at the age of 10, Archie came home from school to find his mother gone – his father had had her committed to a mental hospital. She remained there for the next 21 years.

When he was 14, Archie was expelled from school for peeking into the girls’ bathroom. It was the end of his formal education. His life took on a new direction after a chance backstage visit to Bristol’s Hippodrome Theater. He got a job calling performers to the stage, and within a few weeks, he’d joined Penders Knockabout Comedians, where he learned pantomime, acrobatics, and walking on stilts. When the troupe traveled to New York two years later, Archie went with them, and when the tour ended, Archie stayed behind.


Archie made ends meet by selling ties and stilt walking, and gradually started landing roles in local stage productions. In 1929, he managed to get a screen test at Paramount Studios, but he was rejected because he had “bow legs and a thick neck.” Two years later, he tested for Paramount again. This time, he wound up with a contract and a new name – Cary Grant. His first film under his new contract was This is the Night (1932), starring Charles Ruggles and Thelma Todd.


  • Grant became a U.S. citizen in 1942.
  • In July 1942, Grant married his second wife, heiress Barbara Woolworth Hutton, prompting the tabloids to label the couple as “Cash and Cary.”
  • The actor donated his entire salary from his 1944 film Arsenic and Old Lace, to the U.S. war relief fund.

    Grant with his only child, Jennifer, and her mother, Dyan Cannon.

  • Grant has only one incisor (front tooth), instead of two. As the story goes, he knocked out a tooth while ice skating as a boy, and went to a local dental college, where his teeth were gradually pushed together to fill in the gap.
  • Grant was 62 years old when his first child, Jennifer Grant, was born. Jennifer’s mother was Cary’s fourth wife, Dyan Cannon.


Don’t miss it.

Selecting my pick for Cary Grant day was surprisingly easy – His Girl Friday (1940) has been one of my favorite films since I first saw it decades ago. A (superior, in my opinion) remake of the 1931 film The Front Page, His Girl Friday stars Grant as a single-minded newspaper editor who is determined to keep his ex-wife and former star reporter from leaving the newspaper business. Grant is hilarious in this film – not to mention gorgeous. I can never see it too many times. I hope you feel the same!

And join me for Day 17 of Summer Under the Stars!

~ by shadowsandsatin on August 16, 2020.

9 Responses to “TCM Summer Under the Stars: Day Sixteen — Cary Grant”

  1. Great profile of possibly the most glittering of all the great leading men of the classic era. He had so much going for him physically plus all that style, that I think his talent was underestimated… even overlooked. One of my favorite of his performances is in Hitchcock’s Notorious. It gave him the opportunity to portray a darker, more complex character. And he was superb in the role.
    I didn’t know about the front tooth. But I did notice once while looking at a picture of him that there was something odd about his smile – even though it was gorgeous.

    • I’d read about the tooth a while ago, and totally forgotten about it until now! It’s amazing that it doesn’t make a bit of difference!

      I love Notorious — although I’m pretty sure I’ve only seen it once. I definitely plan a rewatch. So good.

      • Only Cary Grant could get away with having one front tooth and still be one of the (if not the) greatest leading men of all time.

        One thing I think Notorious proves is that he could’ve done noir. A slightly more elegant version of noir, perhaps, but still noir.

  2. A story: Early in our marriage I mentioned renting His Girl Friday for a movie night. My father-in-law said, “Oh, I walked out on that one.” Apparently, the father of the father of my children did not approve of “strong women” like Roz Russell. To this day, whenever we watch the movie, my husband chuckles at the memory of the shocked look on my face all those years ago.

    OK. Just to be contrary, I’ll choose another thoughtful Grant comedy in The Talk of the Town. Thankfully, we don’t have to choose just one. I don’t envision much housework getting done this day!

  3. I had no idea about Cary Grant’s one incisor. Somehow, that makes him extra fabulous.

  4. […] Day 16: Cary Grant […]

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