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Cary Grant redefined the idea of a movie star during his dominance in Hollywood. From the 30s, all the way to the early 60s, Grant became the ultimate charmer, bringing in audiences in films like His Girl Friday, The Philadelphia Experiment, To Catch A Thief, and North By Northwest. Here are 11 things about Grant you may not have known…
1. Cary Grant never played a villain in his decades-long career.
2. Ian Fleming wrote his famous James Bond character in the novels with Grant in mind. When the film adaptation came around in 1962 with Dr. No, Grant was 58 and turned down the role because he felt he was too old.
3. Grant, who was 59 at the time he filmed the romantic thriller Charade, felt he was too old to play the love interest for Audrey Hepburn, who was 25 years younger than him. He demanded that the script make clear that it was Audrey pursuing him, not vice versa. He also added a number of wry jokes denoting the difference in age.
4. His real name is Archibald Alexander Leach. Paramount Pictures, who had him under contract, gave him the name Cary Grant because of the similarity of the name to Gary Cooper, their biggest male star, (C.G. being an inversion of G.C.) and possibly because Clark Gable had the same initials.
5. Grant was largely self-educated as he had dropped out of school at age 14. He was, however, a voracious reader throughout life.
6. He fell madly in love with Sophia Loren while filming The Pride and the Passion when he was 53 and she was 22. At the time, Grant was still married to actress Betsy Drake, and Loren was involved with 45-year-old producer Carlo Ponti, who was also married. Both men eventually separated from their wives and proposed to Loren at the same time; she chose Ponti.
7. He gave serious consideration to retiring in 1953, because he believed the success of Marlon Brando and Method acting meant his own kind of acting was a thing of the past. Eighteen months later he was lured back to make Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, and therefore delayed his retirement until 1966.
8. Grant became seriously ill with infectious hepatitis and jaundice in 1948, and doctors gave him a less than 10% chance of survival. The problem was the damage that years of heavy drinking had done to his liver. Grant took more than six months to recover.
9. Although he became a Paramount Pictures contract player early in his film career, when the contract was up he made an unusual decision for the time: he decided to freelance. Because his films were so successful at the box office, he was able to work at any studio he chose for the majority of his career.
10. Douglas Fairbanks was his boyhood idol, with Fairbanks’ “healthy” tan being the inspiration for Grant’s constantly dark skin.
11. People were surprised by his retirement in 1966 and, despite the attempts of directors as important as Howard Hawks, Billy Wilder, and even Stanley Kubrick to get him out of retirement and into their films, he never worked again.