Simply, he was Mr. Suave. What man wouldn’t want his good looks, his sophistication, his way with women? Cary Grant had it all. When told by a reporter that everyone wanted to be Cary Grant, he responded, “So do I.”
Of course, we know he was born in England as Archibald Leach. Hollywood wanted nothing to do with that name, so he chose “Cary Grant” because the initials C and G were working pretty well for Clark Gable and Gary Cooper. He changed his name legally and became an American citizen in 1942, which is why I claim him for this list.
The sophisticated man of the world persona came about later in Grant’s career, his earliest successes coming in screwball comedies. Mae West gave him his first big break by choosing him as her co-star in She Done Him Wrong and I’m No Angel. He then went on to make Bringing Up Baby with Katherine Hepburn and His Girl Friday with Rosalind Russell. And he was the ultimate romantic leading man, as evidenced by An Affair to Remember.
He probably had his greatest success working in Alfred Hitchcock films. He was in four, the best being Notorious and North by Northwest. Hitchcock, who wasn’t particularly fond of actors, called Cary Grant “the only actor I ever loved.”
He was nominated for two Academy Awards in 1941 and 1944, but didn’t win. He was one of the first actors to buck the studio system, choosing his own films and negotiating his own deals, and it’s said that turned the Academy against him. He did receive a special Honorary Oscar in 1970 for his life’s work. He was named number two on the AFI’s Greatest Screen Legends Actor List, behind Humphrey Bogart. No disrespect to Bogey, who was indeed amazing, but come on.
If you’ve seen Cary Grant, you know that he was one of those men who got better looking as he got older. And if you haven’t seen his movies, get some from Netflix or search them out on Turner Classic Movies. He was one smoooooth guy. (Oh, and he never said, “Judy, Judy, Judy.”)