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You’ll Never Guess What Cary Grant’s Daughter Revealed in Tell-All Memoir

(Photo Credit:  Maureen Donaldson / Getty Images)
(Photo Credit: Maureen Donaldson / Getty Images)

The life of Cary Grant was not as glamorous as you may think. As a surprising tribute to her father, Cary Grant’s daughter Jennifer revealed a secret side of Golden Hollywood’s most debonair leading man in her tell-all memoir Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of my Father, Cary Grant.

Cary Grant portrait
Actor Cary Grant, circa 1945. (Photo Credit: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

Early Years

Cary Grant was born as Archibald Alec Leach on January 18, 1904, in Bristol, England to Elias and Elsie Leach. Unfortunately, Grant’s upbringing was scarred by trauma. His father was an alcoholic and his mother struggled with bouts of depression and mania. His mother Elsie taught Grant to sing, dance, and play piano at a young age. She also took him to the cinema, where he discovered a love for actors like Charlie Chaplin and Ford Sterling.

Cary Grant as a child
Four-year-old Cary Grant (Archibald Leach). (Photo Credit: Bettmann via. Getty Images)

When Grant was nine years old, his father informed him that his mother had left on a “long holiday” and never returned. Eventually, Elias Leach would tell his young son that his mother Elsie Leach had died. Grant was 31 years old when he finally learned that his father had his mother committed to a mental institution. In June of 1935 Grant arranged for his mother’s release from the hospital.

A Star is Born

In 1931, Grant landed his first lead role in a new musical, Nikki. He dazzled audiences and reporters, who made note that “a young lad from England” had “a big future in the movies.” Grant would go on to be one of the most renowned actors in Hollywood, starring in cinema classics like Charade (co-starring with Audrey Hepburn), Alfred Hitchcock‘s North by Northwest and To Catch a Thief (co-starring with Grace Kelly), His Girl Friday, and many more.

A lobby card photo for Alfred Hitchcock's movie North by Northwest features Cary Grant running from an inbound plane.
Actor Cary Grant flees from a crop duster plane on a lobby card for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 thriller ‘North by Northwest’. (Photo Credit: Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images)


Grant was married five times in his life but only had one child. Shortly after marrying his fourth wife Dyan Cannon, the couple welcomed their daughter Jennifer on February 26, 1966. Grant shared his thoughts on parenthood:

“My life changed the day Jennifer was born. I’ve come to think that the reason we’re put on this earth is to procreate. To leave something behind. Not films, because you know that I don’t think my films will last very long once I’m gone. But another human being. That’s what’s important.”

Cary Grant and Dyan Cannon pose holding their infant daughter, Jennifer.
Cary Grant and Dyan Cannon pose with 3 1/2 month old daughter Jennifer. (Photo Credit: Bettmann via. Getty Images)

Unfortunately, Grant and Cannon divorced in 1968 but they continued to co-parent Jennifer.

A Legend’s Legacy

In 1986, Grant suffered a fatal stroke. He died at 82 years old. As per his request, no funeral was held. Jennifer Grant writes in Good Stuff, “The world knows a two-dimensional Cary Grant. As charming a star and as remarkable a gentleman as he was, he was still a more thoughtful and loving father.”

Cary Grant stands with young daughter Jennifer Grant while she pets a goat.
Actor Cary Grant with his daughter Jennifer, circa 1975. (Photo Credit: Maureen Donaldson/Getty Images)

In 2011, Jennifer Grant published a memoir of her father’s life which celebrated him as a father, actor, and a complicated individual. The memoir is extremely candid, including some strange details. In the book, Jennifer Grant addressed rumors about her father’s sexuality:

“Was Dad gay? My gut instinct was [that] he was straight. Perhaps his maverick nature coupled with his grace made him difficult to categorize. Perhaps he had what Virginia Woolf described as ‘an androgynous mind.’ I’m sure he was sometimes a bit flirty with men.”

Grant’s daughter also mentions her father trying LSD to remember the past, his loud snoring, and his very practical marriage advice: “Don’t marry the guy you break the bed with.”

Cary Grant and his daughter Jennifer Grant pose together at an event.
Jennifer Grant with Cary Grant at a formal event, circa 1970. (Photo Credit: Art Zelin/Getty Images)

More from us: Hearst Castle Hides the Secrets of Some of Hollywood’s Biggest Stars

Ultimately, Good Stuff details the ordinary life of an extraordinary star. Grant’s softer side shines through Jennifer’s writing, and it’s no wonder that his daughter went on to name her own son after her dad. It’s clear Cary Grant’s amazing legacy lives on through his family.

Elisabeth Edwards

Elisabeth Edwards is a public historian and history content writer. After completing her Master’s in Public History at Western University in Ontario, Canada Elisabeth has shared her passion for history as a researcher, interpreter, and volunteer at local heritage organizations.

She also helps make history fun and accessible with her podcast The Digital Dust Podcast, which covers topics on everything from art history to grad school.

In her spare time, you can find her camping, hiking, and exploring new places. Elisabeth is especially thrilled to share a love of history with readers who enjoy learning something new every day!

The Digital Dust Podcast