Cary Grant’s daughter says she never saw any indication that he was attracted to men — but if he ever had a same-sex relationship, she hopes it made him happy.
Jennifer Grant, the only child of the iconic film star, was born in 1966, when her father was 62 and married to actress Dyan Cannon. Cary Grant was long rumored to be gay or bisexual. He was married — to women — five times, but he shared a home with fellow actor Randolph Scott through much of the 1930s, and photos abound of the two handsome men frolicking in swimming pools and on a California beach, clad only in swim trunks, and enjoying each other’s company in domestic settings. There has been speculation that they were more than roommates. The possibility has been raised that gay costume designer Orry-Kelly and Grant were lovers, and the late Hollywood hustler Scotty Bowers claimed he had sex with Grant.
In her memoir Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, published in 2011, Jennifer Grant said her father wasn’t gay but enjoyed the speculation. In a new interview with The Guardian, she addressed the subject again.
“If you’re around your parents a lot, you see them in ways that almost no one else does,” she said. “And I never saw a hint of that. 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. 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.”
After her memoir came out, she received hate mail accusing her of being homophobic, but she said that’s absolutely not the case. “Perhaps earlier in his life he had an affair [with a man],” she told The Guardian. “I’ll never know, but if he did, fantastic. I hope he enjoyed it.”
Jennifer Grant is an executive producer of Archie, an upcoming British miniseries about her father, whose birth name was Archibald Leach. Jason Isaacs plays Cary Grant; Jennifer Grant approved his casting.
One of the subjects covered in the series is Cary Grant’s relationship with his mother. When he was a child, he was told she was dead, and he was sent to live with his father’s mother while his father started a second family. Years later, Grant learned that his mother, Elsie, was alive and had been institutionalized for mental illness. They reunited when he was an adult.
When seeing her father interact with his mother during visits to his birthplace of Bristol, England, Jennifer Grant said she never saw any tension in the relationship, but she is certain he was affected by the secrets kept in his family. He took therapy that included doses of LSD, and he reinvented himself, transforming from impoverished immigrant to suave man of the world and one of the biggest and highest-paid Hollywood film stars of his generation, with credits including The Philadelphia Story, An Affair to Remember, and North by Northwest. He made his last film, Walk Don’t Run, in 1967, and he died in 1986.
He was reluctant to become a parent, fearing he wouldn’t be a good one, and he probably agreed to have a child only because Cannon pressed him, Jennifer Grant said. He essentially gave up his career to oversee her upbringing after he and Cannon divorced. “All the neglect he suffered meant he made sure that that was not my life,” she told The Guardian. She has noted that he would cut articles out of newspapers on high-achieving women and pass them on to her to encourage her to be ambitious. She has done some acting, most recently in Babylon, and has two children — son Cary, 14, named for his grandfather, and daughter Davian, 11.
She said the miniseries, due out this year from U.K. streaming service ITVX, will offer new insight about her father. “Telling Archie’s story only adds to Cary’s story,” she said, adding, “It is somewhat of a full circle. I don’t have the words for it yet, but it has changed me, this process. It was a lovely one — quite challenging, but lovely.”
(Photos above are of Randolph Scott, left, and Cary Grant; Randolph Scott, right, and Cary Grant; and Jennifer Grant, left, and Cary Grant, right.)