Cary Grant: Debonair dad

You might Cary Grant was one of our greatest actors NEVER to have won an Oscar for a particular role. With Rita Braver now, we're GOING HOLLYWOOD . . . remembering Cary Grant through the eyes of his greatest fan:

This story was originally broadcast in May 2011.


From "Charade" (1962):

Audrey Hepburn: Do you know what's wrong with you?
Cary Grant: No, what?
Hepburn: Nothing.

He is the definition of debonair! Twenty-five years after his death ... 45 years after his last film ... Cary Grant still delights us with his style, his dry wit, and his comic timing.

He was also a great Dad.

Grant daughter, Jennifer Grant, wants the world to know that her father's the persona - the charm - was real. "It wasn't some mask."

Jennifer was Cary's only child - his daughter with his fourth wife, actress Dyan Cannon. The couple separated shortly after Jennifer's birth in 1966, and Cary Grant ... then 62 ... retired from films in large part to help raise his daughter.

It was a family that stayed out of the public eye.

"I was trained to be private by a man who learned to keep his private life private," said Jennifer.

She called her recent book about life with her Dad "Good Stuff" (Random House).

"Why does that phrase have special meaning for you?" Braver asked.

"He used that phrase whenever he was pleased - "Good stuff!" " she replied.

And a lot of that good stuff revolved around Jennifer. He kept a huge archive for her ...

There are photos ... congratulatory notes on Jennifer's birth (from, among others, Audrey and Grace Kelly). He still made movies - home movies. They show a Cary Grant you've rarely seen before.

Left: Cary Grant and Jennifer in a photo taken in the Hamptons c. 1973.

He even recorded phone conversations capturing Jennifer's baby talk.

It's almost as if he were making up for his own miserable childhood in Bristol, England: The boy who started out as Archibald Leach, his Mom institutionalized, his Dad neglectful.

He ran away from home to join an acrobatic troupe.

"When he was quite young, he became an acrobat and came to New York with that troupe, and that's where he learned gymnastics, I think," said director and film historian Peter Bogdanovich, who became friends with Grant.

He says Grant made good use of his gymnastic training when he got to Hollywood, in films like 1937's "The Awful Truth." That screwball comedy made Grant a comic star.

"And then he did 'Only Angels Have Wings' in 1939, and that made him a dramatic star," said Bogdanovich. "He could do anything. There's nobody like him before or since."

Grant found success early in his career, in "Blonde Venus" with Marlene Dietrich, and "She Done Him Wrong" with Mae West.

But Bogdanovich says, it took a while to perfect the urbane, unflappable Cary Grant image.

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