8 Surprising Facts About Cary Grant

Cary Grant is pictured in a publicity photo circa the 1940s.
Cary Grant is pictured in a publicity photo circa the 1940s.
Getty Images

If you’ve never heard of Archibald Leach, you probably recognize the face. Going by the stage name Cary Grant, Leach (1904-1986) was one of the biggest film stars of the 20th century, deftly moving from madcap comedies like 1937’s The Awful Truth and 1938’s Bringing Up Baby to a long relationship with director Alfred Hitchcock for thrillers like 1941’s Suspicion and 1959’s North by Northwest. Take a look at some of the more intriguing facts of the actor’s life and career, including an offer to play James Bond and why he was so fond of LSD.

1. Cary Grant was a teenage runaway.

Born in Bristol, England on January 18, 1904, Cary Grant’s childhood was anything but idyllic. His father, Elias, was a clothing presser who wasn’t one for commitment: He left his family to take up with another woman. When Grant was 10 years old, Elias told him his mother, Elsie, was gone. In fact, Elsie had been committed to a psychiatric institution—a fact Grant wouldn’t learn for years. (He would not see his mother again for two decades.) Desperate to escape a toxic home life, Grant joined a touring comedy troupe led by a man named Bob Pender as a juggler, forging a letter of permission that appeared to be signed by his father. Obsessed with performing, Grant cared little for school and was eventually expelled for sneaking into the girls’ bathroom. After traveling with the group and learning skills like pantomiming and stilt-walking, he followed them to New York City in 1920 at the age of 16 to pursue a career in show business.

2. Cary Grant was almost Cary Lockwood.

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After stints in vaudeville and Broadway over the next decade, Grant—then still known as Archie Leach—decided to head to Los Angeles to assess his potential for a career in the film industry. B.P. Schulberg, then the head of Paramount, met Grant at a dinner party and invited him to do a screen test. When it was obvious that Grant’s looks and charm translated well to motion pictures, Paramount decided to place him under contract. But executives weren’t fond of his given name. Grant’s friends, including King Kong star Fay Wray, suggested he use Cary Lockwood. The executives liked the name Cary but thought Lockwood was too long. Running down a list of last names, they settled on Grant. By the end of the 1930s and thanks to hits like 1937’s Topper and 1939's Gunga Din, Grant’s name was known to millions of moviegoers. (He didn’t completely abandon his old name; he dubbed his dog Archibald.)

3. Cary Grant was offered the role of James Bond.

Though he was born in England, Grant became an American citizen in 1942. As a result, he would have been an intriguing choice for the role of British spy James Bond when filmmakers were casting 1962’s Dr. No, the first big-screen adaptation of the Ian Fleming novels. Grant was close friends with Bond producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli; he was even best man at Broccoli's wedding. Their relationship made it inevitable Broccoli would offer him the role. It was ideal casting, but two things hindered the deal. For one, Grant refused to commit to a multi-picture contract, as was eventually required of Sean Connery. For another, Grant was already 58 years old. So he passed.

4. Cary Grant really loved LSD.

In an era where film stars led closely-guarded private lives and studios were vigilant in protecting the images of their biggest names, Grant had no reservations about professing his love for psychedelic drugs. Treating it as therapy in part for unresolved issues concerning his mother, Grant took LSD weekly in 1958 and may have had as many as 100 trips; he referred to his subsequent enlightenment as a “rebirth” and “unscrewing myself.” Grant's use of LSD reportedly persuaded Timothy Leary to experiment with it.

5. Cary Grant had a wicked sense of humor.

Grant’s onscreen persona was often marked with a kind of wry humor. It’s an attitude he apparently carried offscreen, as well. When a newspaper editor wanted to run a story on Grant but wasn’t sure about his age, they sent him a telegram: HOW OLD CARY GRANT? Grant received the message and replied: OLD CARY GRANT FINE. HOW YOU?

6. Cary Grant enjoyed snipping the buttons off his shirts.

Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Grant was perplexed when someone who used to work for him wrote an article that depicted Grant cutting the buttons off of his discarded dress shirts. Presented as a personality quirk, Grant thought the practice was perfectly normal. “There are two good reasons why I do it,” he told the New York Times in 1977. “First, my shirts were made with a particular kind of button and I wanted to save them to replace buttons that fell off of other shirts. Secondly, the house cleaner liked my old shirts as dusters because they were soft, and the buttons, if left on, would have scratched the furniture.”

7. Cary Grant kept a bank vault in his home.

Owing to the German bombing of the UK in World War I, which saw all of his childhood mementos destroyed, Grant was determined not to let anything happen to his family’s archives. His daughter, Jennifer Grant, wrote in 2011 that her father kept a “bank-quality vault” in the family’s home, where all of their photos, letters, and home movies were stored. She drew upon the files for her memoir, Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant, published that same year.

8. Cary Grant retired early.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Following his role in 1966’s Walk, Don’t Run, Grant decided he was done performing. Though he was only 62 at the time, Grant retired from acting and entered a new chapter of his life as a businessman. He agreed to step into an executive role for the Faberge cosmetics company—a decision he said he made because it allowed him unlimited use of the company’s private plane—and also served on the board of MGM. Surprisingly, he was also fond of taking his old films out as part of a touring road show, screening them and then answering questions from the audience. He died November 29, 1986 in Davenport, Iowa, shortly before he was expected to appear at one of the engagements.

Asked how he’d like to be remembered four months before his death, Grant was succinct. “As a congenial fellow who didn’t rock the boat, I suppose,” he said.

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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Larry David Shared His Favorite Episode of Seinfeld

Larry David at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2009.
Larry David at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2009.
David Shankbone, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

Last week, Seth Meyers hosted a virtual Seinfeld reunion with Larry David, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Jason Alexander to benefit Texas Democrats. Amid all the other reminiscing, the sitcom veterans got to talking about their favorite episodes of the show.

Louis-Dreyfus answered with “The Soup Nazi,” in which her character Elaine inadvertently causes the greatest (and most high-strung) soup chef in town to shut down his shop. For Alexander, it was “The Marine Biologist,” where his character George masquerades as a marine biologist on a date and ends up rescuing a beached whale.

Larry David’s response, “The Contest,” generated almost as much conversation as the episode itself did when it aired during season 4. In it, the show’s four main characters compete to see who can abstain from self-pleasure the longest, proving themselves to be the “master of their domain.” Though the actors managed to skirt around the word masturbation for the entire episode, the concept was still pretty provocative for network television.

“This one, I didn’t even put on the board because I didn’t want them asking. I just wanted them to come and see the read-through,” David said, as InsideHook reports. “[When they did] I had worked myself up into a lather because the read-through really went great. I was watching [the network executives] and I couldn’t tell how much they liked it. But I was ready to pack the whole thing in if they didn’t let us do this show: ‘I’m quitting. I’m quitting. I’m gonna quit.’ Fortunately, they didn’t say a word. I was shocked.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Louis-Dreyfus’s trepidation about the episode lasted through the shoot. “When we were making this episode, I was convinced we were going to be shut down. I was convinced that the network was going to come in and say, ‘This is not going to work out,’” she said. Needless to say, they never did, and Louis-Dreyfus now looks back on Elaine’s participation in the contest as “a very important cultural moment for women.”

David went on to explain that “The Contest” not only helped popularize Seinfeld among viewers, but it also helped its creators carry more clout in the industry. “That show changed something about how we were perceived in television land,” he said. “It really catapulted us to another place. It moved us to another level, I think.”

[h/t InsideHook]