Daughter remembers Cary Grant, reveals surprising facts in book
BY MIRIAM DI NUNZIO Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org May 11, 2011 7:14PM
Cary Grant and Dyan Cannon, then his wife, pose with baby Jennifer in 1966. The couple divorced when Jennifer was just a year old, but Jennifer was on good terms with both parents. | Ellis Bosworth~AP
Updated: June 13, 2011 1:49PM
To the world, Cary Grant was like that little black dress — classic, elegant, timeless. To his only daughter, Jennifer, he was Dad — funny, smart, loving, doting, the perfect Mr. Mom before the phrase was even coined.
In her just-released book, Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant, Jennifer Grant, 45, writes a moving portrait of her iconic father, nearly all of it culled from her memories and boxes of family memorabilia (including audio tapes, Super 8 movies, letters, notes, postcards) he saved and catalogued until his death in 1986 at age 82.
Her mom is actress Dyan Cannon, and though the couple divorced when Jennifer was just a year old, the three of them remained friends, their daughter splitting time between two very different home lives.
Cary Grant, who “whistled, sang and danced around the house all the time,” retired at age 62, when his career was still viable, because he wanted to be a full-time dad, the book reveals. It also reveals all those everyday things that fathers and daughters share, and some insight into the man behind the movie star, including:
— Grant loved to go to the Fox Hills indoor mall in Los Angeles with his daughter, browsing the endless stores. His favorite? The Gap, because they stocked Levi’s 501s — the only jeans he wore —because they “got better with age” and bore no garish logo —something Grant detested on clothing.
— Grant had a bank-quality, room-size vault with a six-inch thick door in his home where he kept ten to 15 large boxes of keepsakes, all catalogued and labeled. All of his childhood records had been burned in WWI, Jennifer writes, and his goal was that “nothing would rob me of my records again.” Among the hundreds of documents were the most minute notes Jennifer wrote and threw away; he had retrieved them, ironed them and placed them in one of the boxes.
— Grant and Muhammad Ali would “gift” one another with a “Happy Birthday” phone call every year, as their birthdays were one day apart.
— Grant’s performance in “Arsenic and Old Lace” made him shudder. He referred to his acting as “way over the top.” Father and daughter rarely discussed his career, and he never asked her to watch any of his films.
— Grant enjoyed being called gay, calling the rumors funny; plus “it made women want to prove the assertion wrong.”
— At age 80, Grant and his fifth wife Barbara were trying to conceive a child. At the time of his death, they had moved on to artificial insemination with donor sperm, to no avail.
— Howard Hughes was a good friend of her father’s; he would visit the aging actor and they would dine on steaks and ice cream.
— Grant sunbathed every day for 30 minutes to “keep that healthy glow”; wrinkles were the price to pay, but he told his young daughter, “You’ll enjoy those, too.”
— Grant kept a “candy drawer” filled with his “most cherished” sweets, including chocolate, marzipan, lemon drops and hard candies. Because he had grown up with war rationing, even when some of the candy turned bad, he was hardpressed to toss it out.
— Grant loved going to the race track, specifically Hollywood Park, where he would squeal delight at the food court and its variety of kiosks, taking her and his race-day guests on a “food court tour” between the fourth and fifth races.
—Grant loved being on the board of directors of major companies including MGM and Faberge, where he earned generous “horizontal money,” (a term he learned from Quincy Jones), referring to the money one could make “while you’re sleeping.”
— Grant for years drove sky blue Cadillacs because the color was described on the dealership sticker as “Jennifer blue.”
— Grant’s favorite tongue twister was “Black bug’s blood.” (Try saying it 10 times fast — if you can.)
— Grant didn’t want animals in the house calling dogs and cats unsanitary and germ-infested (though his daughter was allowed to have fish and turtles). After several years together, his fifth (and final wife) Barbara, broke down his resolve and brought a cat into their lives.
— Grant hated makeup on women, preferring the natural look or spare use, otherwise a woman “looked like a clown.” He pointed out actresses such as Grace Kelly, Jacqueline Bisset and Diane Keaton who didn’t cover their faces in “colored goo.”
— Grant told his daughter to stand by her man, even if he wasn’t as smart or as wealthy as her. His only advice about relationships was “Don’t marry the guy you break the bed with.”
— For most of her early years with her dad, Cary Grant wore monogrammed pajamas and silk robes in the mornings and on weekend afternoons. When his fifth (and last) wife Barbara entered his life, he opted for caftans which she would sew for him.
—One of Cary Grant’s favorite board games was Trivial Pursuit, which the family played for the last time two days before his death.