24 March 2019

Haarlem Film City

Today a new film book will be presented, 'Haarlem filmstad' (Haarlem film city), edited by Harry Hosman and Arie Vestering. 'Haarlem Film city' describes the cinema life and the well-known and lesser-known studios, filmmakers and stars from the Dutch city. During the 1910s and 1920s, Haarlem even seemed to be the centre of the Dutch film world. Cameramen, actors and set builders walked back and forth in the Filmfabriek Hollandia at the Spaarne river, where dozens of silent films were created. Haarlem-based actresses like Annie Bos achieved star-status. For this new book, I wrote a chapter on film poster designer Frans Bosen, who worked and lived in Haarlem, and designed dozens of colourful film posters during the 1920s. EFSP joins the festivities around the book presentation with a post on the work of Frans Bosen, but we start with a very rare card with Annie Bos which we found just a few weeks ago.

Annie Bos in Toffe jongens onder de mobilisatie (deel 1) (1914)
Dutch postcard by E & B. Photo: Annie Bos in Toffe jongens onder de mobilisatie (deel 1)/Cool boys under the mobilisation (part 1) (Jan van Dommelen, 1914). Translation caption: The coast guard, My Johnny is here all day on the coast watching, I think he likes a bath, so I'll be the coast guard.

Salammbo, 1924, o Frans Bosen
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for Salammbo (Pierre Maradon, 1924) with Jeanne de Balzac.

The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for The Thief of Bagdad (Raoul Walsh, 1924) starring Douglas Fairbanks.

Douglas Fairbanks Sr. (1883-1939) was the elegant, dashing, and athletic star of several classic swashbuckling films of the silent era. He produced and starred in ever more elaborate, impressive costume films, such as The Three Musketeers (Fred Niblo, 1921), Robin Hood (Allan Dwan, 1922), The Thief of Bagdad (Raoul Walsh, 1924), The Black Pirate (Albert Parker, 1926, the first full-length Technicolor film), and The Gaucho (F. Richard Jones, 1927) with Lupe Velez. With his marriage to Mary Pickford in 1920, the couple became Hollywood royalty and Fairbanks was referred to as ‘The King of Hollywood'.

Don Q Son of Zorro (1925)
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for Don Q Son of Zorro (Donald Crisp, 1925) starring Douglas Fairbanks.

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for The Phantom of the Opera (Rupert Julian, 1925) with Lon Chaney.

Lon Chaney (1883-1930) was one of the most versatile and powerful actors of early cinema. Between 1912 and 1930 he played more the 150 widely diverse roles. He is renowned for his characterisations of tortured, often grotesque and afflicted characters, and his groundbreaking artistry with makeup in such silent horror films as The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Wallace Worsley, (1923), He Who Gets Slapped (Victor Sjöström, 1924) and The Phantom of the Opera (Rupert Julian, 1925).

Tartüff (1925)
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for Tartüff/Tartuffe (F.W. Murnau, 1925) starring Emil Jannings.

If Weimar cinema had one film star, then it was Emil Jannings (1884-1950) for sure. Jannings managed to get away from his famous historical characters in such films as Anna Boleyn (Ernst Lubitsch, 1920) and Quo Vadis (Georg Jacoby, Gabriellino D'Annunzio, 1925) with two major films. In Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau's Der letzte Mann/The Last Laugh (1924) he was a proud hotel doorman who loses his self-esteem and the esteem of others when he is reduced to a toilet man, working in the basement of the hotel. In Varieté/Variety (Ewald André Dupont, 1925), he was the strong acrobat, who killed his rival out of jealousy. Jannings magnificently expressed the fears and doubts of proud and big-hearted men, who are cheated by their surroundings. Murnau directed him in two more silent classics Tartüff/Tartuffe (Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, 1925) with Lil Dagover, and Faust (Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, 1926) as Mephisto opposite Gösta Ekman as Faust.

Faust, o Frans Bosen
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for Faust (F.W. Murnau, 1926) starring Emil Jannings.

Frans Bosen


As a designer of film posters, Bosen was a pioneer: he was one of the first Dutch designers to use film images. Before 1920, mainly 'letter posters' were made in the Netherlands: cinema advertisements with text only, on which a number of films were announced simultaneously. Another habit was to take over the placards from abroad with the films and stick the Dutch title on them. Frans Bosen, on the other hand, designed film posters with original images that stood out with their bright colors and short, powerful texts.

Frans Bosen (1891-1949) made dozens of film posters. The circumstances for these assignments were not comfortable: there was little time and money for it and he had to base his designs on a press photo of the film.

What is striking about his posters is that there is hardly any text on it. Modern film posters mention the credits of the actors, the producers, the director, the screenwriters, the composer, etc. In addition to the film title, Bosen sometimes only gave the name of the protagonist.

He designed the letters himself. Many posters also feature the logo of publisher De Brakke Grond, which was designed by him. The logo even contains his signature, on which he made small variations over the years. The result is often a calm, clear image.

The Bosen posters give a colorful insight into what was seen in Dutch cinemas in the 1920s. There are Hollywood classics among them, including the horror film The Phantom of the Opera (Rupert Julian, 1925) and films with action hero Douglas Fairbanks, for example The Thief of Bagdad (Raoul Walsh, 1924). But he also made many posters for European films, such as the religious film La Vie merveilleuse de Bernadette/The wonderful life of Bernadette (George Pallu, 1929).

The Triumph of the Rat (1926)
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for The Triumph of the Rat (Graham Cutts, 1926) with Ivor Novello.

Gorgeous matinee idol Ivor Novello (1893-1951) was one of the multi-talents of the British stage and cinema during the first half of the 20th century. On stage, the 'British Sex God in tight pants' produced and composed a string of hit musicals, starring himself. The 'Valentino from The Valleys' also appeared in the classic Hitchcock thriller The Lodger (1927) and other successful silent and early sound films in France, Great-Britain and Hollywood.

Wien, wie es weint und lacht (1926)
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for Wien, wie es weint und lacht/Vienna, how it cries and laughs (Rudolf Walther-Fein, Rudolf Dworsky, 1926) with Mady Christians.

Austrian-born stage actress Mady Christians (1892-1951) was a star of the German silent cinema and appeared in Austrian, French, British and Hollywood films too.

Die geschiedene Frau (1926)
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for Die geschiedene Frau/The Divorcée (Victor Janson, Rudolf Dworsky, 1926) with Mady Christians.

An der Schönen blauen Donau (1926)
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for An der Schönen blauen Donau/The Beautiful Blue Danube (Frederic Zelnik, 1926) with Lya Mara.

Lya Mara (1897-1960?) was one of the biggest stars of the German silent cinema. Some immensely successful silent operettas presented her as the perfect Viennese Girl. Hundreds of postcards and trading cards cemented her stardom, which was even the subject of a novel, published in 100 episodes between 1927 and 1928. Her career virtually ended after the arrival of sound film.

Die tolle Lola (1927)
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for Die tolle Lola/Fabulous Lola (Richard Eichberg, 1927) with Lilian Harvey.

Ufa's biggest star of the 1930s was British born German actress and singer Lilian Harvey (1906-1968). With Willy Fritsch she formed the 'Dream Team of the European Cinema'. In 1924, Harvey made her film debut as the young Jewish girl Ruth in the silent film Der Fluch/The Curse (Robert Land, 1925). Director-producer Richard Eichberg signed her on, and under his direction she played her first leading roles in Leidenschaft/Passion (Richard Eichberg, 1925) with Otto Gebühr, Liebe und Trompetenblasen/Love and Trumpet Blows (Richard Eichberg, 1925) opposite Harry Liedtke, Die keusche Susanne/The Innocent Susanne (Richard Eichberg, 1926) for the first time with Willy Fritsch, and Die tolle Lola/Fabulous Lola (Richard Eichberg, 1927).

The Ghost Train (1927)
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for The Ghost Train (Geza von Bolvary, 1927).

La vie merveilleuse de Bernadette (1929)
Dutch poster by Frans Bosen for La Vie merveilleuse de Bernadette/The wonderful life of Bernadette (George Pallu, 1929) with Alexandra.

A silent film reconstruction of Bernadette Soubirous's life (1844-1879), a 14-year-old girl that catholics believe had eighteen visions of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, in a grotto near Lourdes, France. The place became a peregrination centre since then.

For more information in Dutch on 'Haarlem Filmstad' see Haarlemfilmstad.nl

23 March 2019

Photo by Union Film

Union Film or the Projektions-AG Union (PAGU) was a German film production company which operated during the silent era between 1911 and 1924. The company was founded by Paul Davidson, a leading cinema owner who branched out into production. One of his first major coups was signing up the Danish film star Asta Nielsen for a lengthy contract. A rising star of the company was also the actor-director Ernst Lubitsch who made a series of comedies for Union Film. From 1917 onwards the company functioned as an independent unit of Universum Film AG (Ufa), and was eventually merged into it entirely.

Asta Nielsen in Engelein (1914)
German small photo for the album by Dr. Oskar Kalbus, Vom Werden deutscher Filmkunst, Vol. I, Der Stummfilm (Cigaretten Bilderdienst, 1935). Photo: PAGU. Asta Nielsen in Engelein/The little Angel (Urban Gad, 1914).

Erna Morena
Erna Morena. German postcard in the Film Sterne Series by Rotophot, no. 79/5. Photo: Karl Schenker, Berlin / P.A.G. Union. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Ernst Lubitsch in Der Blusenkönig
German postcard by Photochemie, no. K. 1983. Photo: Union Film. Ernst Lubitsch in Der Blusen-König (Ernst Lubitsch, 1917). Collection: Didier Hanson.

Erna Morena in  Rafaela
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1986. Photo: Union-Film. Publicity still of Erna Morena in Rafaela/Wer weiss? (Arsen von Cserépy, 1917).

Erna Morena in Der Ring der Giuditta Foscari (1917)
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1990. Photo: Union Film. Erna Morena, Emil Jannings and Harry Liedtke in the German silent drama Der Ring der Giuditta Foscari (Alfred Halm, 1917).

Paul Davidson


Paul Davidson (1867–1927) was born in Lötzen, East Prussia (now Giżycko, Poland). He was the son of Moritz Davidson. Paul initially worked as a commercial traveller in the textile industry and he became the manager of a security firm in Frankfurt am Main in 1902.

On vacation to Paris, he saw his first film, a Georges Méliès production, in a cinema. Back in Frankfurt, he founded the 'Allgemeine Kinematographen-Theater Gesellschaft, Union-Theater für lebende und Tonbilder GmbH' (A.K.T.G.) on 21 March 1906 and opened Mannheim’s first permanent cinema, the Union-Theater (U.T.). Further cinemas followed in Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Strasbourg, Amsterdam and Brussels.

Initially his company was based in Frankfurt, but in 1912, Davidson moved his headquarters to Berlin as it was clear that Berlin had become the centre of the German film industry.

In 1909, Davidson transformed the A.K.T.G. into the Projektions-AG 'Union' (PAGU), the first publicly traded film company in Germany. A year later, he started Germany's first distribution company, renting rather than selling outright prints of the heavyweight championship boxing fight between Jack Johnson and James J. Jeffries.

On 4 September 1909, Davidson opened the Union-Theater at Berlin, Alexanderplatz. Another, even more luxurious Union-Theater was opened at Berlin's Unter den Linden on 21 August 1910. By 1910 Davidson had built up a sizeable chain of 600–1000 seater luxury cinemas.

In less than ten years, Paul Davidson had created an empire of over 56 cinemas in Germany, Belgium, and Hungary, drawing 6 million patrons in 1913.

Ossi Oswalda in Ossis Tagebuch (1917)
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 1998. Photo: Union Film. Ossi Oswalda in Ossi's Tagebuch/Ossi's Diary (Ernst Lubitsch, 1917).

Dagny Servaes in John Riew (1917)
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 2001. Photo: Union Film. Publicity still for John Riew (Walter Schmidthässler, 1917) with Karl Valentin, Dagny Servaes and Käthe Dorsch.

Ossi Oswalda in Wenn vier dasselbe tun (1917)
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 2008. Photo: Union Film. Publicity still for Wenn vier dasselbe tun (Ernst Lubitsch, 1917), starring Ossi Oswalda as the girl, Fritz Schulz (here on the left) as her lover, and Emil Jannings as her father (here on the right).

Ernst Lubitsch
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 2012. Photo: Union Film. Ernst Lubitsch in Prinz Sami/Prince Sami (Ernst Lubitsch, 1918). Collection: Didier Hanson.

Gertrude Welcker in Eine Nacht in der Stahlkammer (1917)
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 2027. Photo: Union Film. Gertrude Welcker in Eine Nacht in der Stahlkammer/A night in the steel chamber (Felix Basch, 1917).

Asta Nielsen


Paul Davidson had not been thinking about moving into film production himself, but then he saw the first Asta Nielsen film, Afgrunden/The Abyss (Urban Gad, 1910). He realised that the age of short film was past. In Asta Nielsen he also saw the first artist in the medium of film. She was thus the decisive factor for his move to film producing.

In March 1910, Paul Davidson founded the Projektions-Aktiengesellschaft Union (PAGU), Germany’s first joint-stock company in film industry and the first to integrate production, distribution and equipment hire. At the time, the majority of films being shown in Germany were foreign-produced, a situation which Davidson attempted to change.

Following the success of Afgrunden/The Abyss (1910), he founded the Internationale Film-Vertriebs-Gesellschaft in conjunction with Asta Nielsen and her husband Urban Gad on 1 June 1911. The company held the European rights on all Nielsen films.

Davidson instantly felt that the Danish actress could be a global success. It was International film Sales that provided Union with eight Nielsen films per year. Davidson built her a studio in Berlin Tempelhof, later overlooking Berlin’s Tempelhof airport, and set up a big production staff around her. He was confident that Nielsen could carry it off.

Davidson used every available means – and devised many new ones – in order to bring the Asta Nielsen films to the world. It was a success. Asta Nielsen became a sensational international film star with an annual fee of 85,000 Marks in 1914 alone.

Davidson was also notable for his success in breaking a boycott of German playwrights, who were refusing to allow their works to be adapted for the screen. He was even able to persuade the leading German stage director Max Reinhardt to make two films, shot in Italy, for the company. On 2 August 1913 the Union-Palast, Kurfürstendamm, one of the first buildings of Berlin exclusively built as a cinema, premiered with Max Reinhardt’s Die Insel der Seligen/The Islands of Bliss (Max Reinhardt, 1913).

Leo Peukert in Baronin Kammerjungfer (1918)
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 2033. Photo: Union-Film. Leo Peukert in the German silent film Baronin Kammerjungfer (Leo Peukert 1918)

Pola Negri in Carmen (1918)
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 2765. Photo: Atelier Eberth / Union. Pola Negri as Carmen in the German silent drama Carmen (Ernst Lubitsch, 1918).

Reinhold Schünzel in Das Karussell des Lebens
German postcard by Photochemie, Berlin, no. K. 2931. Photo: Union. Reinhold Schünzel in Das Karussell des Lebens (Georg Jacoby, 1918). According to German Wikipedia Schünzel's presence in the film is unsure, but this postcard seems to prove it.

Julius Falkenstein and Ossi Oswalda in Die Austernprinzessin (1919)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 611/5. Photo: Union / Ufa. Julius Falkenstein and Ossi Oswalda in Die Austernprinzessin/The Oyster Princess (Ernst Lubitsch, 1919).

Asta Nielsen and Alfred Abel in Rausch (1919)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 614/1. Photo: Union. Publicity still with Asta Nielsen and Alfred Abel in Rausch/Intoxication (Ernst Lubitsch, 1919).

Ernst Lubitsch


A financial crisis at the beginning of World War I forced Paul Davidson to sell his cinema chain to the Danish Nordisk Film Company in August 1915.

Davidson decided to focus on film production. His Union Film engaged such actors as Paul Wegener, Fern Andra, Pola Negri, Ossi Oswalda, Emil Jannings, and Harry Liedtke.

The rising star of the company became the actor Ernst Lubitsch who starred in a series of comedies for Union Film. Lubitsch soon also became a director. The position of Union Film was boosted when German government restricted the screening of non-German films because of the war.

Davidson produced propaganda films at the request of the German Military High Command such as Das Tagebuch des Dr. Hart/Dr. Hart's Diary (Paul Leni, 1917). By decree of the German Military High Command, Union became a founder of the new government-backed conglomerate Universum Film A.G. (Ufa) in November 1917.

Many of German's leading production companies were merged into a single organisation which would dominate German cinema for the next thirty years. So, the Nordisk's Union-Theater chain, as well as Davidson's Union were re-united under one roof.

Davidson worked as the Ufa’s artistic director and head of production. Lubitsch and Davidson's films continued to fill the coffers of the Ufa. Now functioning as one of several production units of Ufa, the company made further propaganda films such as Der gelbe Schein/The Yellow Passport (Eugen Illés, Victor Janson, Paul L. Stein, 1918).

Germany's film industry boomed after 1918 and was increasingly artistically respected, partly due to the films produced by Davidson's Union production unit featuring Pola Negri and Emil Jannings, such as Madame Dubarry (Ernst Lubitsch, 1918), Sumurun (Ernst Lubitsch, 1920), and Anna Boleyn (Ernst Lubitsch, 1920).

Pola Negri in Madame Dubarry (1919)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 627/8. Photo: Union. Pola Negri in Madame Dubarry (Ernst Lubitsch, 1918).

Ossi Oswalda in Die Puppe (1919)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 635/3. Photo: Union. Ossi Oswalda in Die Puppe (Ernst Lubitsch, 1919).

Pola Negri, Paul Wegener and Jenny Hasselquist in Sumurun (1920)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin. Photo: Union Film. Publicity still for Sumurun (Ernst Lubitsch, 1920) with Pola Negri, Paul Wegener and Jenny Hasselqvist.

Emil Jannings in Anna Boleyn (1920)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 410/1. Photo: Union-Film. Emil Jannings as Henry VIII in Anna Boleyn (Ernst Lubitsch, 1920).

Henny Porten in Anna Boleyn
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 645/2. Photo: Union Film. Henny Porten as Anna Boleyn in Anna Boleyn (Ernst Lubitsch, 1920).

Paul Davidson


Davidson was unhappy with his subordinate position at Ufa. He made an attempt to buy back Union Film from Ufa, but this was rejected - partly because it was believed he was backed by the large Hollywood studios who wished to gain a foothold in the German market. Soon afterwards Union's existence as a notionally separate company was brought to an end.

In 1920 Paul Davidson left the Ufa to produce Lubitsch’s Das Weib des Pharao/The Wife of the Pharaoh (Ernst Lubitsch, 1920) and Die Flamme/The Flame (Ernst Lubitsch, 1920) within the short-living Europäische Film-Allianz (EFA). When Ernst Lubitsch moved to Hollywood in 1922, Davidson had produced 39 films directed by Lubitsch.

On 7 April 1921, Davidson resigned from his positions as production head and member of the Board of Ufa. Ufa lost its most successful producer, eventually finding a worthy replacement when Erich Pommer joined the studio after the merger with Decla-Bioscop AG in early 1922.

After the failure of the EFA, Davidson founded the Paul-Davidson AG on 17 September 1924, producing films 'independently' within the Ufa.

In the Spring of 1927, he cancelled his contract and entered a mental institution. It was not the first time he had experienced a breakdown. A few months later, on 18 July 1927, Paul Davidson committed suicide at the institution.

Sources: Jan-Christopher Horak (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.

22 March 2019

Cary Grant

Handsome, suave English-American actor Cary Grant (1904-1986) became one of Hollywood's definitive classic leading men, known for his debonair demeanour. Grant’s best-known films include Bringing Up Baby (1938), The Philadelphia Story (1940), His Girl Friday (1940), Notorious (1946), An Affair to Remember (1957), North by Northwest (1959), and Charade (1963).

Cary Grant
Belgian postcard by N.V. Victoria, Brussels, no. 639. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Cary Grant
British postcard in the Colourgraph Series, London, no. C 213. Photo: Paramount.

Cary Grant
British Real Photo postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 735b. Photo: Paramount.

Cary Grant
British Real Photograph postcard, no. 214.

Cary Grant
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 735c. Photo: Columbia.

Cary Grant
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. W 609. Photo: R.K.O. Radio.

The combination of virility, sexuality and the aura and bearing of a gentleman


Cary Grant was born Archibald Alexander Leach in Horfield, Bristol, England, in 1904. His parents were Elsie Maria (Kingdon) and Elias James Leach, who worked in a factory. Grant considered himself to have been partly Jewish.

He had an unhappy upbringing in Bristol. At age nine, he came home from school one day and was told his mother had gone off to a seaside resort. The real truth, however, was that she had been placed in a mental institution, where she would remain for years, and he was never told about it. Grant did not learn that his mother was still alive until he was 31, when his father confessed to the lie, shortly before his own death.

At age 14, Archibald dropped out of school. He lied about his age and forged his father's signature on a letter to join Bob Pender's troupe of knockabout comedians. He learned pantomime as well as acrobatics as he toured with the Pender troupe in the English provinces. Then in 1920, he was one of the eight Pender boys selected to go to the US. Their show on Broadway, Good Times, ran for 456 performances at the New York Hippodrome (the largest theatre in the world at the time with a capacity of 5,697), giving Grant time to acclimatise.

He would stay in America. Grant spent the next couple of years touring the United States with The Walking Stanleys. He visited Los Angeles for the first time in 1924, which left a lasting impression upon him. After the group split up he returned to New York, where he began living and performing at the National Vaudeville Artists Club. In 1927, he was cast as an Australian in Reggie Hammerstein's musical, Golden Dawn.

In the following years he gained a reputation as a romantic leading man. After a successful screen-test, Paramount producer Bud Schulberg signed a contract with the 27-year-old Grant in 1931 for five years. He made his feature film debut with the comedy This is the Night (Frank Tuttle, 1932), playing an Olympic javelin thrower opposite Thelma Todd and Lily Damita.

Grant played a wealthy playboy opposite Marlene Dietrich in Blonde Venus (1932), directed by Josef von Sternberg. Mae West wanted Grant for She Done Him Wrong (Lowell Sherman, 1933) because she saw his combination of virility, sexuality and the aura and bearing of a gentleman. The film was a box office hit, earning more than $2 million in the United States. For their next pairing, I'm No Angel (Wesley Ruggles, 1934), Grant's salary was increased from $450 to $750 a week. The film was even more successful than She Done Him Wrong, and saved Paramount from bankruptcy.

Cary Grant
British Real Photograph postcard. Photo: Paramount.

Cary Grant in Devil and the Deep (1932)
British Art Photo postcard, no. 5904 M. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for Devil and the Deep (Marion Gehring, 1932).

Cary Grant and Lily Damita in This Is the Night (1932)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6870/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for This is the Night (Frank Tuttle, 1932) with Lily Damita.

Cary Grant
French postcard by Editions Chantal, Paris, no. 573. Photo: Paramount.

Cary Grant
French postcard by Editions E.C., Paris, no. 373.

A leopard and frequent bickering and verbal jousting


When the Paramount contract was up, Cary Grant made an unusual decision for the time: he decided to freelance. Because his films were so successful at the box office, he was able to work at any studio he chose for the majority of his career.

For Hal Roach's studio he made the screwball comedy Topper (Norman Z. McLeod, 1937), which became his first major comedy success. The following year, he starred opposite Katharine Hepburn in the screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938), featuring a leopard and frequent bickering and verbal jousting between Grant and Hepburn.

He played a British army sergeant opposite Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. in the adventure film Gunga Din (George Stevens, 1939), set at a military station in India, and he was a pilot opposite Jean Arthur and Rita Hayworth in the drama Only Angels Have Wings (Howard Hawks, 1939). Grant gained even more success for his appearances in the romantic comedies His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940) with Rosalind Russell, and The Philadelphia Story (George Cukor, 1940) with Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart.

Along with Arsenic and Old Lace (Frank Capra, 1944) and I Was a Male War Bride (Howard Hawks, 1949); these films are among the all-time great comedy films. Having established himself as a major Hollywood star, he was nominated twice for the Academy Award for Best Actor, for Penny Serenade (George Stevens, 1941) and None but the Lonely Heart (Clifford Odets, 1944).

In the 1940s, Grant also started a working relationship with director Alfred Hitchcock, appearing in films such as Suspicion (1941) opposite Joan Fontaine, and Notorious (1946) opposite Ingrid Bergman. Hitchcock admired Grant and considered him to have been the only actor that he had ever loved working with.

In To Catch a Thief (1955), he and Grace Kelly were allowed to improvise some of the dialogue. They knew what Hitchcock wanted to do with a scene, they rehearsed it, put in some clever double entendres that got past the censors, and then the scene was filmed. His biggest box-office success was Hitchcock’s North by Northwest (1959) made with Eva Marie Saint since Kelly was by that time Princess of Monaco.

Sylvia Sidney and Cary Grant in Madame Butterfly (1932)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 168/1. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for Madame Butterfly (Marion Gering, 1932) with Sylvia Sidney.

Cary Grant
British Real Photo postcard. Photo: Paramount Pictures.

Cary Grant
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 893. Photo: Paramount.
Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in Notorious (1946)
German collectors card. Photo: RKO Radio Film. Publicity still for Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946) with Ingrid Bergman.

Cary Grant in I Was a Male War Bride (1949)
Dutch postcard, no. 3286. Photo: 20th Century Fox. Publicity still for I Was a Male War Bride (Howard Hawks, 1949).

Marriages, living arrangements and fatherhood


Cary Grant was young enough to begin the new career of fatherhood. Grant retired from the screen at 62, when his daughter Jennifer was born, to focus on bringing her up and to provide a sense of permanency and stability in her life.

Although Grant had stopped making films, he remained active. In 1966, he accepted a position on the board of directors at Fabergé. By all accounts this position was not honorary, as some had assumed; Grant regularly attended meetings and travelled internationally to support them. The position also permitted use of a private plane, which Grant could use to fly to see his daughter wherever her mother, Dyan Cannon, was working.

He later joined the boards of Hollywood Park, the Academy of Magical Arts (The Magic Castle, Hollywood, California), Western Airlines (acquired by Delta Air Lines in 1987), and MGM. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Grant the second greatest male star of Golden Age Hollywood cinema (after Humphrey Bogart). He was nominated twice for the Academy Award for Best Actor and five times for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor. After his retirement from film in 1966, Grant was presented with an Honorary Oscar in 1970.

He expressed no interest in making a career comeback. He was in good health until almost the end of his life, when he suffered a mild stroke in October 1984. His final appearance at the Academy Awards was in 1985 to present James Stewart with an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement. In the last few years of his life, Grant undertook tours of the United States in a one-man show, 'A Conversation with Cary Grant', in which he would show clips from his films and answer audience questions.

In 1986, Grant suffered a major stroke prior to performing in his one man show in Davenport, Iowa. He died later that night at St. Luke's Hospital. Grant had been married five times. His wives were actress Virginia Cherrill (1934-1935), Barbara Hutton (1942-1945), actress Betsy Drake (1949-1962), actress Dyan Cannon (1965-1968), and Barbara Harris (1981-1986).

From 1932 till 1944 he shared a house with Randolph Scott, whom he met on Hot Saturday (William A. Seiter, 1932). Studio heads threatened not to employ them together, unless they lived separately. Grant's marriage to Barbara Hutton permanently dissolved his living arrangement with Scott. Grant later fell in love with Sophia Loren while filming The Pride and the Passion (Stanley Kramer, 1957) when he was 53 and she was 22. At the time, Grant was still married to actress Betsy Drake, and Loren was involved with 45-year-old producer Carlo Ponti, who was also married. Both men eventually separated from their wives and proposed to Loren at the same time; she chose Ponti.

Cary Grant
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 287. Photo: Warner Bros.

Cary Grant
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, offered by Les Carbones Korès 'Carboplane', no. 667. Photo: Paramount, 1951.

Cary Grant
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, offered by Les Carbones Korès 'Carboplane', no. 999. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for Houseboat (Melville Shavelson, 1958).

Cary Grant
Vintage card, no. 625. Photo: M.G.M.

Cary Grant
Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, no. N. 207.

Sources: Dale O'Connor (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.