Old News for Grant Students; Cary Grant - in Name Only. by Gary Morecambe and Martin Sterling (Robson Books, Pounds 16.95). Reviewed by Richard Edmonds
Byline: Richard Edmonds
Is there anything we can learn from this new biography of Cary Grant?
I think the answer is probably no, since the facts that we have known about for many years are rehashed with style variations.There was always the disturbed mother in Bristol, where he was born as Archie Leach, and a father who hit the bottle. But the authors do manage to identify the troupe of acrobats (called The Pender Troupe) who took on Archie Leach in his teenage years during a period when he was hanging around backstage at the Bristol Hippodrome intoxicated by the smell of the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd.
The authors point out that although the young Archie seemed to enjoy the twice weekly workouts in the gym which an acrobat would need, the transformation into Cary Grant brought a denial in later life when the Hollywood actor said that he had ever had any interest in regular exercise.
The Pender acrobats took Archie to Broadway for an appearance in a musical and when the show ended the young lad stayed on in America. Yet by the age of 23 he had achieved very little except Vaudeville slots in a double act with another man.
The insinuations that Cary Grant (6ft tall, charming and with a slight diffidence towards women) was gay, seemed to have begun around this time. In later years, the same tag dogged him in Hollywood - particularly when he set up house with Randolph Scott. Eventually Grant was to sue over these allegations and a $10million claim for damages was settled out of court. …