Archibald Alexander Leach Juggles His Responsibilities
Peter Graves narrates this account of the life and career of British-born Archibald Alexander Leach, a bright child of humble origins, who skips his studies to enter an acrobat troupe, before entering Vaudeville, and sailing to the United States, eventually to become American stage and screen star Cary Grant.
While young Archie's childhood is characteristic of a deprived family life, a long separation from his institutionalized mother, and his expulsion from Fairfield Grammar School, his strict father eventually agrees to Archie's enlisting as a teen in Bob Pender Company stage troupe, which travels to the States, where Archie decides to remain upon their return to UK.
After working his way from Vaudeville to Broadway, Hollywood talent scouts offer Archie screen tests, which are rejected by Fox, but accepted by Paramount Pictures, where his suggestion for screen name is patterned after one of his stage characters, Cary Lockwood, but the studio modifies this to "Cary Grant." Cary Grant begins accepting many screen roles turned down by then A-list stars, and eventually becomes noticed when Mae West selects him to co-star as leading man.
But, according to this biography, when Cary combines his early acrobatic experience with his mounting debonair leading man image in "The Awful Truth" (1937), Leo McCarey threatens to fire him, until Columbia chief Harry Cohn intervenes, to create in Cary's performance a unique range of Screwball Comedy with Sophistication.
This also discusses the association between Cary and actor Randolph Scott, who would share living quarters, while hosting numerous Hollywood starlets. After Paramount's Publicity Department features the roommates in an article, Hollywood gossip columnists create many erroneous reports, which haunt Cary throughout his career, causing Cary to guard himself from interviewers for many years, and becoming intensely private regarding his personal life.
Cary goes on to wed on five occasions, with marriages to Virginia Cherrill (1934-35), Barbara Hutton (1942-45), Betsy Drake (1949-62), Dyan Cannon (1965-68), and Barbara Harris (198186), thus giving Cary one step-son, Lance Reventlow (with Hutton) and one daughter, Jennifer Grant (with Cannon).
Co-star Mary Brian describes Cary as "Kind, caring and glamorous," Miss Hutton's cousin Dina Merrill as "Unique, loving and talented," John Forsythe as "Masterful, magnetic and extraordinary," and Gregory Peck as "having success and determination amid many ups and downs."
Interview Guests for this episode consist of actresses Mary Brian and Dina Merrill, Biographer Nancy Nelson, actors Douglas Fairbanks Jr., John Forsythe and Gregory Peck, and Director Peter Bogdanovich.
Archive footage includes Cary with Co-stars Ethel Barrymore, Ralph Bellamy, Ingrid Bergman, Anna Chang, Jeanne Crain, Betsy Drake, Irene Dunne, Joan Fontaine, Sam Jaffe, Deborah Kerr, Audrey Hepburn, Katharine Hepburn, Rosalind Russell, Eva Marie Saint, Ann Sheridan, Thelma Todd, Mae West, and Loretta Young in speaking parts.
Film Clips include a screen glimpse of Cary through the years, in scenes from "Singapore Sue" (1932), "She Done Him Wrong" (1933), "Born to Be Bad" (1934), "The Awful Truth" (1937), "Bringing Up Baby" (1938), "Gunga Din" (1939), "His Girl Friday" (1940), "The Philadelphia Story" (1940), "Penny Serenade" (1941), "Suspicion" (1941), "None But the Lonely Heart" (1944), "Notorious" (1946), "Every Girl Should Be Married" (1948), "I Was a Male War Bride" (1949), "People Will Talk" (1951), "Monkey Business" (1952), "To Catch a Thief" (1955), "An Affair to Remember" (1957), "The Pride and the Passion" (1957), "North by Northwest" (1959), and "Charade" (1963).
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