Trailer: Becoming Cary Grant by Mark Kidel
Grant’s career in Hollywood made him one of the world’s most recognisable, and idolised, icons, with the American Film Institute once naming him the second greatest male star of Golden Age Hollywood cinema. Tonight, BBC Four is replaying his 1941 film Suspicion, the Oscar-winning thriller. Alongside fellow Hollywood stalwart Joan Fontaine, the film follows a shy Lina McLaidlaw and her recently married husband Johnnie Aysgarth, and their relationship as it descends into mystery.
The Alfred Hitchcock-directed flick won Fontaine an Academy Award for Best Actress, and remains a favourite even today, holding a 97 percent rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
While the film catapulted Fontaine to even greater stardom, Grant was already a household name, and would go on to receive Oscar nominations himself for Best Actor in Penny Serenade and None but the Lonely Heart.
Away from the glare of the camera, Grant’s life as a celebrated Hollywood legend was often scrutinised, including many of his relationships.
Even years after his death, those linked with the Bristol-born actor shutdown claims of a romance, including Italian icon Sophia Loren.
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Grant’s career in Hollywood made him one of the world’s most recognisable stars
Reports from the set of 1957 film The Pride and the Passion noted how an affair between Grant and Loren developed, but she told the Radio Times in 2020 nothing further happened.
She said: “Cary Grant was a very handsome man and a wonderful actor, but he didn’t propose.”
Loren noted how it would have been “impossible” for Grant to propose while on set together, due to the huge age gap between the pair.
The actress was 23 during filming, more than three decades younger than her English counterpart.
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Sophia Loren and Cary Grant
In Loren’s 2014 memoir, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: My Life, the 87-year-old noted that while Grant was with his third wife at the time, he remained determined in his pursuit of the Italian.
Loren herself was in a relationship with the film producer Carlo Ponti, and had a decision to make over whether she would marry her partner, or run off with Grant.
The book recalled one letter she had been written by Grant, which noted how she would “be in my prayers”.
In another he added: “If you think and pray with me, for the same thing and purpose, all will be right and life will be good.”
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Cary Grant wished to marry Sophia Loren
Ultimately, Loren decided to wed Ponti, with the pair remaining with one another until his death in 2007.
Loren did, though, tell the Radio Times two years ago, that she and Grant remained friends, writing and speaking to each other regularly.
She added, when reflecting on her life: “It’s very hard to say you have no regrets.
“In life, you always go through so many experiences, but I have always tried to live with no regrets.
Filming locations in the UK
“I think I’ve reached a peaceful life. I have everything I ever wanted, which is a wonderful family with beautiful children and beautiful grandchildren.
“The only thing I regret a little is that I never got married in a white dress. That was the dream of my life, which is still inside me.”
In all, Grant was married five times throughout his life, and his final wife was hotel public relations agent Barbara Harris, 47 years his junior.
At the time of their meeting, Grant was attending a Fabergé conference at London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel, where Harris was working.
Among the friends to note Harris’ positive influence on Grant was Prince Rainier of Monaco, who reportedly said his Hollywood friend had “never been happier” than when with his new wife.
Suspicion airs tonight from 9pm on BBC Four.