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Historic Figures

You are in: Bristol > History > Historic Figures > Cary Grant: 1986

Cary Grant in front of Clifton Suspension Bridge

Cary Grant in Bristol

Cary Grant: 1986

When Cary Grant died in November 1986, Points West paid its own tribute to Archie Leach, the tailor’s boy who went on to dominate Hollywood for some 40 years. Points West’s very own ‘matinee idol’ Chris Vacher traced Grant’s Bristol connection...

From the age of 13, and after a childhood spent living in the Horfield district of Bristol, Archie Leach – alias Cary Grant – took one sniff of the greasepaint at the Bristol Hippodrome and knew he want to be a performer.

His resulting career spanned forty years, during which he made more than 70 films and earned the reputation of being one of the most sought after actors in Hollywood.

With his films came the fame and the fortune – and the seemingly endless women - but despite the movie star lifestyle he never turned his back on Bristol completely.

Whenever he came home to see his mother, who towards the end of her life was cared for at Chesterfield Hospital in Clifton, he would raise the blood pressure of the nursing staff in anticipation of his arrival, and his mother would often spend Sunday afternoons watching his old movies and pointing him out to anyone interested.

Cary Grant's art teacher

Cary Grant's art teacher

The then manager of the Grand Spa Hotel remembered Grant’s visits and by all accounts his stays in Bristol proved quite an occasion.

Chris Vacher’s 1986 film takes us around the city and shows the locations most associated with Cary Grant – his home at 15 Hughenden Road, Horfield, his old school - Fairfield Grammar, and the Hippodrome where it all started for him as a callboy.

A particularly poignant moment shows Grant talking at the unveiling of a memorial in New York, where rubble from the Bristol Blitz was brought over as ballast.

Grant spoke about how he lost members of his family in the bombing raids over Bristol as he unveiled a memorial plaque in New York’s Bristol Basin in 1974, the inscription of which reads:

“BENEATH THIS EAST RIVER DRIVE OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK LIE STONES, BRICKS AND RUBBLE FROM THE BOMBED CITY OF BRISTOL IN ENGLAND… BROUGHT OVER HERE AS BALLAST FROM OVERSEAS. THESE FRAGMENTS THAT ONCE WERE HOMES SHALL TESTIFY WHILE MEN LOVE FREEDOM TO THE RESOLUTION AND FORTITUDE OF THE PEOPLE OF BRITAIN THEY SAW THEIR HOMES STRUCK DOWN WITHOUT WARNING… IT WAS NOT THEIR WALLS BUT THEIR VALOR THAT KEPT THEM FREE.”

Chris Vacher in dressing room of Hippodrome

Chris Vacher reporting in 1986

Cary Grant died on 29th November 1986 and at the time, as Chris’s report reveals, there were calls for a statue of the actor to be put up in honour of the City’s Hollywood legend.

This eventually came in 2001 and Cary Grant can now be seen striding out casually across Millennium Square in the city centre.

One of Grant’s famous quotes reveals his dilemma to understand who he really was – it also underlines his yearning to remain connected with Bristol and the place of his birth:

"I have spent the greater part of my life fluctuating between Archie Leach and Cary Grant, unsure of each, suspecting each."

One thing is certain – the name Cary Grant ended up being worth more than Archibald Leach ever could have dreamed of – and Bristol is the better for it too.

MORE FILMS FROM POINTS WEST

  • Use the right hand links to other local Where I Live sites to see more archive film from Points West.

last updated: 11/03/2008 at 11:41
created: 09/11/2005

Have Your Say

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Anne Meredith
My parents used to own the Golden Lion on Gloucester Road. When Cary Grant used to come over to see his mother. He used to go into the lounge of the pub every evening and sit at the end of the bar. He would often talk to the older custoers who new his mother and his relatives.

thepackmans@hotmail.com
Did Archie/Carey have a brother? I have a letter written by my Grandfather, saying that his Great Grandmother was married to his brother? But I can only find information that he was on only child?

Anonymous
Cary Grant in my opinion was the best actor in the world and always will beSigned Anonymous From America

boblevey@blueyonder.co.uk
Hi anyone give me information on Elias Leach as my Gran had his Death Certificate in her Side Board for years until i stumbled on it and she took from me. My Gran has always said that her father was Archies Fathers brother, would anyone be able to shed light on this her name was Ellen Leach. Regards Bob

Geoff Amor
Cary Grant and I were in the same scout troop.The 747 troop who`s hut was on Horfield Common .Unfortunately we never spoke but I remain proud that we shared the same activity under the same roof.

Don Hunter
My wife & I wellremember Cary Grant bringing his Mother to Ashton Court Country Club on her Birthday,& I still have the telegram he sent to me & my trio for playing her favourite tune--Great Memories

Darnalldavid
At what age did he leave the UK for USA ? Did he serve in any of the 'Forces' during Wartime?

Tim Waite
It is good to remember such an entertaining, humorous man with special programmes, statues etc. If only we could have a statue or documentary commemorating the life and works of Bristol's greatest scientist. Is it because, as one of the world's top physicists of all time, he shunned publicity? Or is it because Grant was an entertainer whereas Dirac only laid the theoretical foundations for modern electronics (transistors, computers, mobile phones, etc.) and linked Einstein's theory of relativity with quantum physics?

Donald Leek
As ex-Bristolians now living in the US we have always held Cary in high esteem.We visit Bristol to spend time with family and friends every other year,and always take time to pay homage to his statue at the Centre.We lived in Church Road,just around the corner from Hughenden Road in Horfield so we have a real closeness to the great movie star.Many thanks for your contribution. Don and Gina Leek.

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