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Stewart Granger Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trade Mark (3) | Trivia (18) | Personal Quotes (14)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 6 May 1913Kensington, London, England, UK
Date of Death 16 August 1993Santa Monica, California, USA  (prostate cancer)
Birth NameJames Lablanche Stewart
Nickname Jimmy
Height 6' 1" (1.85 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Stewart Granger was born James Leblanche Stewart in London, the grandson of the actor "Luigi Lablache". He attended Epsom College but left after deciding not to pursue a medical degree. He decided to try acting and attended Webber-Douglas School of Dramatic Art, London. By 1935, he made his stage debut in "The Cardinal" at the Little Theatre Hull . He was with the Birmingham Repertory Company between 1936 and 1937 and, in 1938, he made his debut in the West End, London in "The Sun Never Sets". He joined the Old Vic company in 1939 appearing in 'Tony Draws a Horse' at the Criterion and 'A House in the Square' at the St Martins He had been gradually rising through the ranks of better stage roles when World War II began, and he joined the British Army in 1940. However, he was eventually disabled (1942) which brought his release from military service.

With a dearth of leading men for British movies he quickly landed his first film opportunity The Man in Grey (1943) for Gainsborough Pictures. This was the first installment of the company's successful series of romance films. Not to be confused with American actor James Stewart, James Leblanche Stewart became Stewart Granger (though he was "Jimmy" to his off-screen friends). But the film work was unsatisfying. He was forever cast as the dashing hero type, while fellow up-and-coming actor James Mason always garnered the more substantial Gainsborough part. When Mason got the nod from Hollywood, Granger inherited better parts and, in some star company in one case, the sophisticated Caesar and Cleopatra (1945) with Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh and a very young bit player already being noticed, Jean Simmons. Grangers lead roles to the end of the decade were substantial, but Simmons was unwittingly moving on into British film history with small but memorable roles for David Lean, Michael Powell, and, in a big way, Laurence Olivier, as "Ophelia" in his historic Hamlet (1948) for which she received an Oscar nomination. Granger and she were brought together as co-stars in the comedy Adam and Evalyn (1949). This time around, the chemistry off-camera was there as well, and they became engaged. About the same time, Granger's hope of interesting Hollywood was realized for him and his bride-to-be. He married and signed with MGM in 1950. Once in Hollywood, he was getting star billing leads in romantic roles that the audiences loved, but he found them still unsatisfying. He also found himself heir apparent to Errol Flynn as a swashbuckler in two popular films: the remake of The Prisoner of Zenda (1952) and Scaramouche (1952). He and Simmons were paired in Young Bess (1953), where Granger had the romantic lead, but Simmons was the focus of the movie.

Through the 50s, the films of each might have fairly equal production values, but as the fortunes of Hollywood go, Simmons was the more memorable star in films that were more popular-some very big hits, the later Elmer Gantry (1960) and Spartacus (1960). That sort of undeclared competition for a married Hollywood couple was poison to the marriage. In 1960, they divorced. Granger did a lot of work in Germany, along with some in Italy and Spain in the 60s. Interestingly, in the same period Simmons was finding the same lack of challenging roles in the US. In the 70s and 80s, Granger was relegated to small screen subsistence with regular TV roles along with a few movies and a stint on the New York stage. And ironically, Simmons was in the same boat during that period. Granger's typecasting was nothing new, but certainly his often scathing criticism of Hollywood and its denizens that came out in his autobiography "Sparks Fly Upwards" was understandable and rang true with so many other stories dealing with illusive stardom. Though he was candid in his disgust with his whole career - and admittedly he did not have the depth for the range of roles allotted to bigger named actors - nonetheless he always turned in solid performances in the roles that became his legacy.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: William McPeak

Spouse (3)

Caroline LeCerf (8 June 1964 - 1969) (divorced) (1 child)
Jean Simmons (20 December 1950 - 12 August 1960) (divorced) (1 child)
Elspeth March (1938 - 1948) (divorced) (children: Jamie and Lindsey)

Trade Mark (3)

Wavy dark hair (later silver grey)
Strong masculine profile
Played adventurers, swashbucklers and romantic leads

Trivia (18)

Has made more than 60 movies and once grumbled that he couldn't stand any of them.
Best friend was Michael Wilding
Had an extramarital affair with Deborah Kerr
Stewart proposed to Jean Simmons after seeing her as Kanchi in Black Narcissus (1947).
Stewart was a friend of Michael Powell's and when he heard Powell wanted a dancer for The Red Shoes (1948) he suggested that Powell take a look at Moira Shearer.
Stewart did his own stunt work
Stewart became an overnight star in England after appearing the movie, The Man in Grey (1943).
Stewart became England's top box office star in the 1940s which attracted Hollywood's attention.
Became a naturalized US citizen together with Jean Simmons in 1956.
Even though he was quoted as saying he didn't like any of his movies, he does say in his autobiography, "Sparks Fly Upwards", that Saraband (1948) was one of the movies he starred in that he did like.
Adopted his professional name not to be confused with James Stewart.
Father of Tracy Granger (with Jean Simmons) and Lindsey Granger and Jamie Granger (with Elspeth March).
Took sword fencing very seriously for his dashing roles in The Prisoner of Zenda (1952) and Scaramouche (1952). He was so earnest in mastering the skill of fencing that he took lessons from a retired Olympic fencing champion. During his preparation for Scaramouche (1952), his fencing lessons and practice made him wear out a dozen or so pairs of fencing shoes. He adorned the cover of Life Magazine when the film was released and the title was "Stewart Granger: Swashbuckler". Perhaps the only actor superior to him in fencing at that time was Basil Rathbone.
In Scaramouche (1952), Granger had to wear lifts to appear the same height as his slightly taller co-stars Mel Ferrer, Henry Wilcoxon, Richard Anderson, and John Dehner. It is believed Granger wore lifts in other Hollywood films as well.
His great grandfather was Italian opera singer Luigi LaBlanche who came to England and became Queen Victoria's singing master.
His niece is antiques expert Bunny Campione who is often on BBC TV's Antiques Roadshow.
Has a daughter, Samantha, with Caroline Lecerf.
He was mistakenly diagnosed with lung cancer in 1980 and had part of his lung and a rib removed, only to find he really had tuberculosis. Granger had smoked 60 cigarettes a day for the past 40 years.

Personal Quotes (14)

The cinema world is not easy. it's full of envy from little people - heads of studios, for example, who hate people for their attractiveness.
I haven't aged into a character actor. I'm still an old leading man.
I was a good costume actor, but I shortened my career because I made the wrong choices.
I've never done a film I'm proud of.
[on Joan Collins, 1984] She's common, she can't act - yet she's the hottest female property around these days. If that doesn't tell you something about the state of our industry today, what does?
[on friends] "Damn 'em all except six - and they can be pallbearers. If they stumble, damn them, too."
I don't know which was the greatest disaster: my career or my wives.
(quote about the play, "The Circle") "Old Granger's back! But some people are going to be shocked. If they've watched me on an afternoon film looking young and smooth, heaven knows what they'll think when they come to the theatre and see this elder-statesman figure with white hair!"
[on Phyllis Calvert] I'm a very good actor; I played all those love scenes with Phyllis Calvert and we didn't like each other very much.
[on Elizabeth Taylor] The incredibly beautiful and curvaceous Liz Taylor, who disappointed me by having a rather squeaky voice, but you can't have everything, can you, and she had practically everything else in abundance.
[on Deborah Kerr] I made "King Solomon's Mines" and I became popular because Quatermain was a mysterious man with a leopard skin around his hat. It was Africa romantic. Deborah Kerr and I made love up a tree. I said to Deborah -- I had a six month affair with her -- that we should never have come down from that tree.
[on James Mason] He was one of the closest friends I ever had. A wonderful actor, and a humble and wonderful man.
[on Alan Ladd] Spencer Tracy was an actor's actor. Everybody thought he was great. Marlon Brando is an actor's actor -- or was. Richard Burton also. I don't try to be cruel, but Alan Ladd was not an actor's actor. But he was a very successful film star.
[on Robert Taylor (Granger worked with him in All the Brothers Were Valiant (1953) and The Last Hunt (1956)] He was such a nice guy, but he had even more hang-ups than I had. Bob Taylor was the easiest person to work with but he had been entirely emasculated by the MGM brass who insisted that he was only a pretty face. He was convinced he wasn't really a good actor and his calm acceptance of this stigma infuriated me.

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