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My interview with Jennifer Grant, daughter of Cary Grant and
author of “Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary
Suzanne: Thanks for speaking with me. I'm really looking
forward to that marathon on TCM.
Jennifer: Oh, as am I...on the 21st.
Suzanne: Do we know how TCM chose which of the films to show?
Jennifer: You know, I'm not sure how they chose their line-up. But I
know they've got a whole day of Dad on Sunday, the 21st, and it's just
part of... you know, they have a whole day of Humphrey Bogart, and
Shirley McClaine... a whole host of people.
Suzanne: Which movie on the list there is your favorite, if you have
Jennifer: Oh, God, I don't know. (Laughs)
Jennifer: You know, my normal answer to this is -- and it's the truth --
my favorite film of my father's is usually the last one I've seen of
his. Because I do really enjoy all of his films. And I say that not to
be (Laughs) silly about it, but it's just the truth.
Suzanne: I understand. It's a great selection of movies....I'm about
five years older than you, so I grew up watching a lot of these films on
Jennifer: Right, then we had cable. That's when we would watch them.
Suzanne: Right. Actually, I had to tell you that I'm really honored to
do this call. I like a lot of actors, but he's my all-time favorite.
Jennifer: Aw, how nice.
Suzanne: I'm not just saying that. Nobody else compares.
Jennifer: You know, I agree. He was like that as a human being as well.
He was really remarkable.
Suzanne: Oh, that's good. That's great because you hear so many horror
stories about celebrities from their kids later on in books, so I'm just
glad that yours is a nice one.
Jennifer: Thank you. I had a great life, so, I was really lucky.
Suzanne: Did your father have a favorite film of his?
Jennifer: His response was "The film that did the best at the box office
- that's my favorite". (Laughs) I don't know if he was just being silly
about it, but he never mentioned a favorite to me. He never did.
Suzanne: Did he have copies of them at home, and did you watch them?
Jennifer: He didn't. He didn't watch his own films.
Jennifer: I know...once he retired...he retired when I was born. So,
Cary Grant the star - he took that hat off, and he put on the dad hat
when I was born. And it was by choice. You know, I think he wanted to be
a full-time father. While he had always been a businessman in his
career, he then decided to join boards...of MGM, and Faberge, and
Hollywood Park Race Track...so his business side sort of went into that.
And his attention happily went to me.
Suzanne: Well, I'm sure you're very glad about that.
Jennifer: Yes. (Laughs)
Suzanne: That was a very different thing to do back then. He retired
when he was still...
Jennifer: I think it's a different thing to do at any time, for any one.
Suzanne: That's true.
Jennifer: I mean, certainly more women do it, in general, but
particularly for someone who's such a huge star, to actually retire and
not look back.
Jennifer: To make the decision is hard enough. then to make the decision
and stick with it, and not...because stars get a tremendous amount of
attention, and a lot of ego-feeding from their work. And to really cut
that off, and to be happy making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at
home, is a whole different thing.
Suzanne: Yeah, it's pretty amazing, when you're still good-looking, and
making movies, and not having to worry about anything, and to just -- it
Jennifer: Yeah, he was examplary in many ways.
Suzanne: It sounds like he was a truly unique person with really high
values, from everything I've read.
Jennifer: Thank you, yes.
Suzanne: What prompted you to right this book now about your dad?
Jennifer: A lot of prompting. I just would not do it for ages. I
wouldn't do any TV specials, or documentaries, or magazine articles, or
anything. I was so, so private, and in my private life as well. I didn't
even talk about it with friends. I just kind of put that part of my life
in lockdown. I think because I missed him too much. Finally, at the
urging of close friends and with my step-mother's whole-hearted
approval...she just said, "Darling, it's a wonderful idea and you must
do something". I thought, okay, maybe it's just me, who's shut this door
for no reason, and I should open up and share my memories of Dad
because, again, luckily for me, I'm the only person who got to know this
side of him. I'm his only child and he was such an amazing father. It's
a big piece of the Cary Grant puzzle that wasn't filled in before, so I
think that's why people were urging me to write it. Finally, I grew up
enough so that I could share him.
Suzanne: That's great. It seems like he was a very personal, private
person, and you are able to share that side of him that he really didn't
share himself with the public.
Suzanne: So you wrote the book, and have the reviews been good? Have you
gotten a lot of great feedback?
Jennifer: Yes, almost entirely good. Yes. There was one bad review, but
other than that they've been all really wonderful. (Laughs)
Suzanne: Well, only one, that's pretty good.
Jennifer: (Laughs) Thank you.
Suzanne: You were talking about Barbara Harris, your step-mom. Have I
got that name right?
Jennifer: Yes, she was Barbara Grant, and now she's Barbara Jane.
Suzanne: Was she on Broadway?
Jennifer: No, Barbara was never an actress. There was a Barbara Harris
Jennifer: This Barbara Harris is British and my father met her in
London. She was in public relations at the Dorcester Hotel, and he
Suzanne: Are you close to your mom? How is she doing?
Jennifer: Yes, she's doing great. She's coming out with her own book in
Suzanne: Oh, that's great. Is it about her life?
Jennifer: Actually, it's about Dad. It's called "Dear Cary".
Suzanne: Oh. Well, that will be interesting to read. Is she still
Jennifer: She is, yeah. I don't think she's doing anything right now,
but she's still so amazing at it.
Suzanne: Well, you know, growing up in 70's, I loved her movies,
especially The Last of Sheila, Deathtrap...
Jennifer: Oh, I loved the Last of Sheila! Great movie.
Suzanne: What will fans learn from reading your book?
Jennifer: I think they'll get to know the personal side of Dad, sort of
the third dimension of the legend. The more vulnerable family side.
Besides, what he ate, and the advice he gave - the day-to-day stuff.
Suzanne: If someone picked up your book, and they don't know that much
about Cary Grant, what do you think would be the main reason for them to
read your book? What would they get out of it?
Jennifer: Obviously, for Dad's fans...and otherwise, I think anyone
who's lost someone dear to them. It was very much about my process of
losing Dad and coming to terms with that. So if you've ever lost a close
relative, it could be a cathartic read for you -- a happily cathartic
Suzanne: Did you write it all yourself or have help?
Jennifer: I wrote it myself, yes. I had a wonderful editor, Vicky Wilson
at Knopf. I wrote the book myself. I couldn't imagine trying to...I had
to have my own voice in it.
Suzanne: Did you do anything to prepare to write it, read other
Jennifer: No, no. I've written in my life before this, but it was very
much from the heart. It's not anyone else's book and it's not styled
after anyone else. It was just really about Dad. In the beginning, I
definitely had my misgivings about...I would say to my editor, "I've
never written a book, what do I do?" And she would say, "Just trust
yourself, just keep going." She'd seen my book proposal, and, happily,
her belief in me nudged me along, to continue to write, and to continue
to trust the words that came out. And lo and behold, it happened.
Suzanne: It was obviously a very personal work. Did you enjoy writing
Jennifer: Yes, I did. I love writing. It can be grueling, but I love it.
Suzanne: Do you think you'll be writing other books?
Jennifer: I do, yes.
Suzanne: I read that your father didn't really want you to go into
acting, but later you did go into acting. Was that a difficult choice
Jennifer: At first, yes. At first, I thought, oh, he wouldn't have
approved. But then I thought, you know, what he really wanted, more than
anything, what was paramount to him was my happiness. And I was happy
doing it, so I knew he'd be okay with it.
TCM’s ultimate movie star showcase – SUMMER UNDER THE STARS – is back
for its ninth year, as the network pays tribute to 31 different stars,
with an entire day’s lineup dedicated to each of them. We started the
month with Marlon Brando (Aug. 1), Bette Davis (Aug. 3), John Garfield
(Aug. 5), and continuing with Shirley MacLaine (Aug. 10), Claudette
Colbert (Aug. 12), James Stewart (Aug. 13), Humphrey Bogart (Aug. 17),
Debbie Reynolds (Aug. 19), Montgomery Clift (Aug. 20), Cary Grant (Aug.
21), Joan Crawford (Aug. 22), Burt Lancaster (Aug. 25), Carole Lombard
(Aug. 28) and Marlene Dietrich (Aug. 31). As a special spotlight during
this year’s SUMMER UNDER THE STARS, TCM will celebrate the life and
career of the incomparable Lucille Ball on Aug. 6, marking the 100th
anniversary of her birth.
Also, make sure to check out the SUMMER UNDER THE STARS website for more
Cary Grant Movies being showcased on the 21st:
THIS IS THE NIGHT (1932)
I’M NO ANGEL (1933)
MY FAVORITE WIFE (1940)
THE BACHELOR AND THE BOBBY-SOXER (1947)
EVERY GIRL SHOULD BE MARRIED (1949)
ROOM FOR ONE MORE (1952)
THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940)
NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959)
GUNGA DIN (1939)
ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS (1939)
MR. BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DRAM HOUSE (1948)
THE BISHOP’S WIFE (1947)
BRINGING UP BABY (1938)
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