As a framing device, we see Grant on stage when an older man, telling his story and answering questions. Much of the story in Archie is about Cary Grant as an established actor attracted to Dyan Cannon, who would eventually become his fourth wife (of five) and the mother of his only child.
The first of the four episodes shows us his harsh childhood. Cary Grant was born Archie Leach in Bristol, England. The horrors of his young life included the death of a younger sibling of tuberculosis, the unpredictable alcoholism of his father, and the depression of his mother. His mother was institutionalized, but young Archie was told that she had died. His father didn’t confess the lie until Cary Grant was a successful actor, living in Hollywood. When his father started a new family with another woman, Archie was largely left to his own devices with a grandmother providing shelter and food.
We then get to see Archie’s transition into a performer in his early teens. He was truly on his own at age 14 when he joined a theater troupe that traveled first in the UK and, when Grant was 16, to the United States.
We see little of his transition from vaudeville to Broadway and even less of his successful career in films. Although, I do love that they showed the scene where Mae West says to a very young Cary Grant “Why don’t you come up sometime and see me?” I guess that any of us who love Cary Grant enough to watch a mini-series of his life are assumed to be pretty familiar with his career.
Cary Grant retired from filmmaking in 1966 when I was four and died in 1986 when I was 24. When I was younger, I experienced him as an attractive old man who appeared on talk shows occasionally with very white hair, very black glasses, an elegant voice, and a delightful sense of humor. I wasn’t exposed to his films until college when I attended classic film series on and near campus and later when his movies became available on videotape and DVD.
We enjoyed this series and learning more about the personal life of one of our favorite actors.
I wanted to post this on Cary Grant’s birthday, but I’ll link it tomorrow for British Isles Friday.