b. Archibald Alexander Leach, 18 January 1904, Horfield, Bristol, Gloucestershire, England, d. 29 November 1986, Davenport, Iowa, USA. As a child, Leach joined a troupe of itinerant entertainers and was still in his teens when they travelled to the USA where he struggled in vaudeville while doing menial day work. In 1923 he returned to the UK, graduating to minor roles in musical comedies before returning to New York to play in Golden Dawn (1927). After this he was in other Broadway productions, including Boom Boom, A Wonderful Night (both 1929) and Nikki (1931). Signed with the Paramount Picture Corporation, he played supporting roles in several films in 1932, including Blonde Venus (starring Marlene Dietrich), and a non-musical version of Madame Butterfly (playing Lt. Pinkerton to Sylvia Sidney’s Butterfly). By 1933 he had moved swiftly up the cast list, co-starring with Mae West, at her request, in She Done Him Wrong and I’m No Angel. In the first of this pair Grant was recipient of one of the most famous lines in films: ‘Why don’t you come up sometime ’n see me?’.
Moving from Paramount to work for both RKO and Columbia in the late 30s, Grant made a string of critically praised and still-popular screwball comedies, including Topper (co-starring with Constance Bennett), The Awful Truth (with Irene Dunne) (both 1937), Bringing Up Baby (1938, with Katharine Hepburn), and His Girl Friday (1940, with Rosalind Russell). In the 40s, he was in the farce Arsenic And Old Lace (1944), the musical biopic Night And Day (playing the role of songwriter Cole Porter) and the drama Notorious (both 1946), and the comedies Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) and I Was A Male War Bride (1949). Through the 50s and into the 60s he made comedies and dramas with equal aplomb, including Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief (1955), Indiscreet (1958), Hitchcock’s North By Northwest (1959), That Touch Of Mink (1962, with Doris Day), and Charade (1963). Although he aged very well, Grant made his final film in 1966, Walk Don’t Run, retiring from films to work as a director of various international companies, including Fabergé and Western Airlines, as well as the film company, MGM. In 1970, he received a special Academy Award for his Lifetime Achievement In Films, having been unsuccessfully nominated as Best Actor for both Penny Serenade (1941) and None But The Lonely Heart (1944).