Jennifer Grant has said that her father, Cary Grant, was “not flirtatious with men”.
The Hollywood icon, known for classic films including North by Northwest (1959) and Charade (1963), faced persistent rumours about his sexuality during later life.
Speaking to The Guardian ahead of ITV’s forthcoming drama Archie, a biopic series about Cary’s life, Grant denied that her father had relationships with men.
“If you’re around your parents a lot, you see them in ways that almost no one else does. And I never saw a hint of that,” she said.
“I think I would have picked up on it – not that I would’ve cared. But I have to speak the truth of the matter: Dad was charming, and he had great friendships, but he wasn’t flirtatious with men.
She continued: “A friend of mine sent me a picture the other day of Gregory Peck, my father and Mervyn LeRoy and they’re good buddies. But I never got that hint. Perhaps earlier in his life he had an affair [with a man]. I’ll never know, but if he did, fantastic. I hope he enjoyed it.”
Grant added that when she pushed back on the rumours previously in her 2011 memoir (Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant), she received hate mail “saying that I was anti-gay, which couldn’t be further from the truth”.
In her book, Grant wrote: “Can’t blame men for wanting him, and wouldn’t be surprised if Dad even mildly flirted back. When the question arises, it generally speaks more about the person asking… Dad somewhat enjoyed being called gay. He said it made women want to prove the assertion wrong.”
Cary was born into extreme poverty in Bristol in 1904. At the age of 16, he emigrated to the US as a stage performer before moving to Hollywood and establishing himself as one of the definitive leading men of his generation.
For around 12 years, he cohabited on and off with fellow actor Randolph Scott, which some claimed was a homosexual relationship.
During a 1980 talk show appearance, comedian Chevy Chase joked that Cary was a “homo. What a gal!” Cary sued Chase for defamation, and Chase was forced to retract his words.
Cary retired in retired from acting in 1966 at the age of 62 when Jennifer was born to him and his fourth wife, actor Dyan Cannon, in order to dedicate his life to fatherhood.
He was married five times: to Virginia Cherrill, Barbara Hutton, Betsy Drake, Cannon and Barbara Harris. He died from a stroke in 1986 aged 82.
Archie – named after Cary’s birth name Archibald Leach – was announced last year with Harry Potter star Jason Isaacs cast as Grant. It has been written by Philomena scribe Jeff Pope with Paul Andrew Williams (A Confession) is directing.
“There was only one Cary Grant and I’d never be foolish enough to try to step into his iconic shoes,” said Isaacs in a statement at the time.
“Archie Leach, on the other hand, couldn’t be further from the character he invented to save himself. Jeff’s brilliant scripts bring to life his relentless struggle to escape the demons that plagued him, his obsessive need for control, his fears, his weaknesses, his loves and his losses. It’s the story of a man, not a legend, and those are shoes I can’t wait to walk in.”