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Cary Grant’s daughter shuts down rumors he was gay: 'I had to speak the truth'

"Archie," a TV miniseries on BritBox, stars Jason Isaacs as late Hollywood star Cary Grant. Grant's daughter, Jennifer Grant, and his ex-wife, Dyan Cannon, are executive producers.

Cary Grant’s daughter is eager to set the record straight about the late movie star’s mysterious past, including his sexuality.

For years, it has been speculated the Hollywood actor had relationships with men. 

He was married five times, with four of those marriages ending in divorce. He welcomed his only child with wife No. 4, Dyan Cannon, in 1966.

The leading man died in 1986 at age 82.


"I suppose the [misconception about my father] that comes to mind is the question of, ‘Was he straight? Was he gay?’" Jennifer Grant told Fox News Digital.

"When I wrote my book [in 2011], I got hate mail saying, ‘Why aren’t you standing up for the fact that your father was homosexual?’" the 57-year-old revealed. "But the truth of the matter is, I never saw anything to indicate that. And had he been homosexual, I absolutely would’ve stood up for it. He had gay friends and there’s just absolutely nothing to be ashamed of there.

"But I had to speak the truth, which was I saw a very straight male who watched women, was married to women, had me," the actress added. "Did he have affairs earlier in life? Perhaps. I don’t know. I wasn’t there to see it. So, I think it might not be a common misconception, but it’s certainly a rumor out there."

Jennifer is the executive producer of BritBox’s limited series, "Archie," which explores how a former acrobat turned self-trained English actor became one of the top stars of Hollywood’s golden era. The scripted show also dives into his tumultuous childhood. Jennifer said when she was growing up, her famous father rarely mentioned his parents.

"I think his biggest obstacle was having a family," Jennifer explained. "I think he really didn’t want to get into that. He’d had a tough time of it. His mother was taken away from him. His father was an abusive alcoholic. And I just think he didn’t want to touch it — having a child. And I think once he did, not because it’s me, but just the act of becoming a father, I think that freed him. He’d crossed that.

"I think when we do the most difficult things for ourselves, we free ourselves."


Grant, born Archibald "Archie" Alexander Leach, was just 11 years old when his father placed his mother in an asylum while telling him she had died. A penniless Grant found solace on the stage and, eventually, he joined a troupe of tumblers. He later sailed to America and worked in vaudeville.

Thanks to Grant’s dashing looks, Hollywood came calling. In 1932, the year he turned 28, he appeared in his first feature film with a new name. Just as his movie career blossomed, Grant learned from his father that his mother wasn’t dead after all. Grant moved her into private accommodations, but she remained mentally fragile.

Despite his numerous affairs with women, Grant drove his lovers away before they could leave him. He turned to therapy and LSD in the late ‘50s to address his traumatic childhood.

At age 62, Grant became a father for the first time.

"I think that’s why he retired," said Jennifer. "He was great as an actor, obviously. He was an amazing actor, and he devoted himself to his career. And when he decided to be a father, he sort of took that hat off and put on the parent hat, and he never looked back. He just devoted himself entirely to [parenthood]. But I think part of that [was] out of fear of doing it badly, somehow messing it up.

"I’m here to say he did not," Jennifer smiled. "He did a great job."

According to Jennifer, Grant happily gave up his decades-long career in Hollywood and immersed himself in his greatest role — fatherhood. After her parents divorced when she was a baby, Jennifer primarily lived with Grant until his death.

While Grant was mum on his childhood, he happily introduced his daughter to his roots.

"Dad was very proud of being British," said Jennifer. "We watched British comedies at home – ‘The Goonies,’ ‘Monty Python,’ ‘Benny Hill.’ We ate British foods. We had the little pops at Christmastime. … He kept that side of himself alive. Even the way he carried himself, he was a very refined man, which I think is British."

Jennifer also got to meet Elsie, her grandmother.

"I think a common misconception [was] that she was somehow mad, which she was absolutely not," Jennifer explained. "She’d lost her son. … Her husband had a second family and didn’t want to deal with her. ... He could simply walk into an institution and have her signed away for life. That was part of the reason I wanted to tell this story, to shed light on that. My grandma Elsie lost her life.

"I used to have this dream that I was onboard a ship and I entered this ship, and then I found out that I couldn’t see my kids for months," Jennifer continued. "I cannot get off the ship. And I realized during filming that it was because of Elsie/ … Elise was taken away one day. She didn’t get to see her child for 30 years. So, her entire life as a mother was taken away from her.


"And that, honestly, was the thing I kept thinking about [while filming]. I thought, ‘I can tell Elsie’s story. I can tell the story of what happened to her and how it affected Dad, how a man signing away a woman’s life impacts that man’s son, how it destroys his relationships with other women.’"

Jennifer's mother was more than 30 years younger. The marriage lasted from 1965 to 1968. The Oscar-nominated actress, 86, also served as an executive producer on "Archie."

Jennifer said it was "healing" to see her parents’ love story unfold on screen.

"That’s something I wasn’t privy to," she said. "Their relationship sadly fell apart, but I can understand why. They were such different people. Mom’s just wild and says anything that comes to her mind. She’s very free-spirited and fun. My dad was very reserved, quiet and private. So, one can see why they might be attracted to one another. But living together day to day? That wasn’t going to happen. So seeing their love affair was lovely."

When asked how her mother feels about her ex today, Jennifer replied, "I think the love’s back."

"It’s been long enough that time heals," she said. "So, I think she’s back in that loving space with him."


Jennifer was 20 when she lost her father. Today, her memories of the actor remain vivid.

"[I remember] dad taking me to an Elton John concert at Dodger Stadium," she said. "At the time, The Bump — the dance — was in. And I taught him to do The Bump. So, we were doing The Bump in the owner’s box of Dodger Stadium. He was silly, and I had the pleasure of enjoying the later years of his life with him.

"I think the fact that he created himself is miraculous," she said. "He was such a thoughtful, kind man. If he did something unkind, he couldn’t sleep. He was a gentleman through and through. … I suppose what I want people to take away is that we can create ourselves. We can create miracles. … We don’t have to walk on water to be wonderful human beings."

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