Daddy Was a Movie Star

By Jones, Malcolm | Newsweek, May 9, 2011 | Go to article overview

Daddy Was a Movie Star


Jones, Malcolm, Newsweek


Byline: Malcolm Jones

Cary Grant's daughter has a new memoir that reveals him to be a doting mensch at home.

Cary Grant was not perfect. Now we know. In her memoir, Good Stuff, his daughter, Jennifer, reveals that he was always grumpy for several days before he traveled or before he had to make a public appearance. He liked Benny Hill. Oh, and he snored. Loudly.

So much for the bad news. The delightful Good Stuff is the polar opposite of Mommie Dearest. Cary Grant at home was more or less the same man the public saw in movies: debonair, decent, and funny. By the time she was old enough to know him, Jennifer says in a phone interview, "he'd shaped himself into the person he was comfortable being." The line between public icon and loving father was no line at all.

Jennifer was Grant's only child. He was 62 when she was born in 1966 (her mother was his fourth wife, Dyan Cannon), and at that point he retired from film. His final role, which he played until his death 20 years later, was fatherhood. According to his daughter, he gave it everything he had. He taught her to ride a bike and a horse, they shared hot dogs at Dodgers games--OK, while sitting in the owner's box; nobody said this was a normal childhood. (Some of the book's best moments focus on this wonky blend of everydayness and privilege, as when she sits down to play Operation with Princess Stephanie at the palace in Monaco.) But if Daddy treated her like a princess, he didn't want her thinking like one. "At my birthday parties, Dad insisted that we give each guest their own gift to open. 'What -- they're all just going to sit there and watch you open your presents? Fat chance department!' " Her childhood allowance was a dollar a week, and she had an 11:30 p. …

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