He remains one of Hollywood’s greatest leading men — an actor who could smoothly leap from drama to comedy to big-screen adventure. However, the full life story of Cary Grant, born Archibald Leach in Bristol, England, has never been told.
That’s about to change with Archie, an upcoming four-part miniseries. It aims to trace Cary’s life from his birth in 1904 through his Hollywood years to his retirement at age 62 to help raise his only child, daughter Jennifer Grant. “I think the birth of Jennifer brought him great love,” Cary’s widow and fifth wife, Barbara Jaynes, tells Closer. “I think that the relationship we had brought him peace as well. Most of the people who knew him well said he seemed a much happier person in the later part of his life.”
Cary’s childhood had been difficult. His older brother died young, sending their mother spiraling into depression and exacerbating their father’s alcoholism. When Cary was 9, his mother abruptly disappeared. Although his father would claim she had died, Cary would eventually learn that she was alive but institutionalized. “The key to everything lay in his childhood,” says Jeff Pope, Archie’s writer and executive producer.
Over his eventful life, Cary, who died in 1986 at 82, made peace with his family secrets. He even began recording thoughts about his childhood for a memoir that he didn’t finish. “He never spoke of the endeavor, but he saved the tape for me,” says Jennifer, who along with her mother, actress Dyan Cannon, is an executive producer of the miniseries. “He came to terms with who he was and who his parents were,” she adds. “He’d forgiven who he needed to forgive, let go of what he needed to, and accepted himself as he was. Archibald Alexander Leach, Cary Grant and all.”