Cary Grant was born on January 18, 1904 in Bristol, England as Archibald Alexander Leach. He was the only child of Elsie Maria Kingdon and Elias James Leach. Grant came to the United States at the age of 16 on a two year tour of the country performing as a stilt walker with the “Bob Pender Stage Troupe.” When the troupe returned to the UK, Grant stayed to continue his stage career.
Still using his birth name, Grant became part of a vaudeville act and performed on stage as a stilt walker, acrobat, juggler, and mime. After appearing in several Broadway musicals under the name “Archie Leach,” Grant moved to Hollywood in 1931 to pursue a film career. In Hollywood Grant was told he needed to change his name and proposed “Cary Lockwood,” the name of a character he had played in a Broadway show.
When Grant signed with Paramount Pictures, his studio bosses decided the name “Cary” was acceptable, but that “Lockwood” was too similar to another actor’s last name. Paramount gave the actor a list surnames to choose from, and he selected “Grant” because the initials “C” and “G” had proved to work well for two of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Clark Gable and Gary Cooper.
Cary Grant has since been named the second Greatest Male Star of All time by the American Film Institute. He is best known for films such as The Awful Truth (1937), Bringing Up Baby (1938), The Philadelphia Story (1940), His Girl Friday (1940), Notorious (1946), To Catch a Thief (1955), An Affair to Remember (1957), and North by Northwest (1959).