Cary Grant was the definition of the leading man.
Dashing and debonair, Cary Grant was the definition of the leading man. Born Jan. 18, 1904, in England, he came to the U.S. at 16 – and we can thank his British upbringing, combined with his emigration at a young age, for the accent that upped his already-considerable charm.
When Grant came to America, he was a stilt walker with a troupe of performers. It was just a small shift to vaudeville, and within a few years, he was acting on stage in St. Louis. Then, for a talent like Grant’s, it was a quick jump to Broadway and from Broadway to the silver screen.
One of his earliest hits was I’m No Angel, playing opposite Mae West. The great chemistry between the stars made the movie explode at the box office and helped save Paramount from bankruptcy.
Grant went on to become a favorite of Alfred Hitchcock, who tapped him to star in Suspicion, Notorious, To Catch a Thief and North by Northwest.
Charade was one of Grant’s last films before his retirement from acting. He was initially uncomfortable with playing the romantic lead opposite the much younger Audrey Hepburn, but when the script was altered to make it clear she was pursuing him, he agreed.
Twice nominated for Oscars, in 1970 Grant received an Academy Award for lifetime achievement, presented to him by Frank Sinatra “for his unique mastery of the art of screen acting with the respect and affection of his colleagues.” Grant died Nov. 29, 1986, at 82. Though it’s been more than 45 years since his final movie, Walk, Don’t Run, he still stands among the greats.