Cary Grant’s father

It’s nothing to do with Bath – or North East Somerset – but l wanted to share an image with you that l don’t think has been seen before. It is certainly part of a little bit of Hollywood-tinged regional history.

Cary Grant © Wikipedia
Cary Grant © Wikipedia

Most people know that American film idol Cary Grant was born in Bristol – and better known by his family and friends as Archie Leach.

Back in the 1980’s l was lucky enough to have afternoon tea with him in London and hear his memories of Bristol and Clifton in particular where his mother ended her days in a private nursing home.

Cary Grant's father - Elias James Leach (1873-1935)
Cary Grant’s father – Elias James Leach (1873-1935)

I cannot remember who gave me this photograph but l think you will agree there is a real family likeness.

This is Cary’s father Elias James Leach (1873-1935) – probably pictured in the garden of the family home in Horfield, Bristol.

Cary’s mother Elsie Maria had been suffering from clinical depression following the death of a previous child and her husband had her committed to a mental institution.

Elias told his 9-year-old son his mother had gone on a long holiday. He later said she had died.

Cary did not learn the truth until he was 31 when his father admitted to the lie shortly before his own death. He told his son where she was being cared for and Cary made regular trips from America to see her – staying first at the Royal Hotel on College Green and later at the Avon Gorge Hotel in Clifton.

Cary told me he had fond memories of re-visiting his home city and especially liked nothing better than walking over the Clifton Suspension Bridge.