Postscript: Hollywood’s Leading Man
By Kent Schuelke
Cary Grant left the world in the same fashion as he lived—quietly. Within 48 hours of the 82-year-old actor’s death on November 29th from a massive stroke in Davenport, Iowa, his remains had been flown to California and cremated. No funeral, no memorial service. That’s how Grant wanted it. Outside of his illustrious movie career, spanning 72 films, Grant shunned the spotlight, seldom giving interviews.
Born Archibald Leach in Bristol, England in 1904, Grant came to the United States in his early teens as a performer in a traveling acrobatic troupe. His talents led him to the Broadway stage, where he performed in musicals. A movie contract with MGM soon followed. To many critics, the debonair Grant was the greatest comedian in the history of cinema. Along with Howard Hawks, George Cukor, and Frank Capra, he helped invent the “screwball comedy.” With his sweeping charm, clipped accent and impeccable timing, he lit up some of Hollywood’s greatest comedies, including Bringing Up Baby, Topper, The Awful Truth, and The Philadelphia Story. In those films, he costarred with many of Hollywood’s leading ladies: Katharine Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Mae West, Ingrid Bergman, and Grace Kelly. But probably Grant’s most important collaborator was Alfred Hitchcock, with whom he made North by Northwest, Notorious, and To Catch a Thief.
Retiring from cinema in 1966, Grant spent the rest of his days in business, on the board of directors in at MGM and Faberge Cosmetics. He enjoyed his privacy, but his marriages—to Virginia Cherrill, Barbara Hutton, Betsy Drake, Dyan Cannon, and Barbara Harris—and his four divorces, brought him unwanted and unflattering publicity. In spite of such controversies, the public always loved Cary Grant.
This interview with Mr. Grant was done four months before his death. He did the interview in connection with a film tribute in his honor at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. This is one of the last public conversations with a legend.