Jennifer Grant Remembers Her Father Cary Grant in "Good Stuff"


To write this book is to fully admit, more than twenty years later, that he died. To move on with my life. The tribute to my father is more than mildly overdue. Dad has been deservedly honored by everyone and their mother. The U.S. government even turned my father into a stamp. For many years I've stayed silent. Other tributes to Dad stem from the perspective of show business, where the intimate side of his life is somehow vaguely analyzed, but never revealed. I am my father's only child. The world knows a two-dimensional Cary Grant. As charming a star and as remarkable a gentleman as he was, he was still a more thoughtful and loving father.

Madame Sylvia Wu, the marvelous restaurateur, was close to Dad for more than forty years. When I called Auntie Sylvia to discuss the book, she sweetly chided, "It's about time!" Sadly, several of Dad's closest pals, among them Frank Sinatra, Charlie Rich, and Gregory Peck, are no longer alive to share their memories of him.

Privacy was a gift our family worked hard to maintain. Selfishly, I have guarded my memories of Dad, clutching them to preserve that part of him that I alone knew.

Why didn't Dad write his own book? One archived audio cassette recorded in 1962 is a self- hypnosis session made for Dad. He was being instructed to exercise, gently, daily, and to write his autobiography. Presumably these are activities he wished to pursue, and he'd hired someone to help him with autosuggestion. The woman soothingly advised that he complete his autobiography with tremendous compassion for his subjects and not to worry, not to criticize the work, just to do it. Also, to exercise a bit each day. This was four years prior to my birth. Was Dad examining his life before having a child? Why didn't Dad finish his book? Did he consider revealing his history, his childhood, to the world? He never spoke of the endeavor, but he saved the tape for me. What turned him around? With so much misinformation out there, did he want to address and correct it? Is this why he stayed up at night? Was he too distressed about involving others' lives? Of course, his was the definitive voice. His parents were already gone. Any writing would have served Dad and Dad alone. Dad's parents weren't famous, he was. He knew his story. Anyone reading his story would have done so to learn about him. His motives were therefore the central theme. My guess is he came to terms with his past, and with anyone who wished to write about it. Let them examine their own motives. In my case, ultimately it's the same matter. Dad is gone; I write about him for me.

My hopeful guess on his attempted autobiography is that Dad was done with his homework. He came to terms with who he was and who his parents were. Let others play their guessing games. He trusted that those who knew him, knew him. Those who didn't, never really would. To make a case for himself would therefore be a fruitless, energy- wasting endeavor. He'd forgiven who he needed to forgive, let go of what he needed to, and accepted himself as he was. Archibald Alexander Leach, Cary Grant, and all.

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