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Cary Grant's daughter Jennifer writes memoir

The Associated Press, Thursday, May 5, 2011, 10:51am (PDT)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Cary Grant is gone and no actor today compares, his daughter says.

"Hugh Jackman, a little bit. Other than that I can't think of anyone," actress Jennifer Grant said during a recent promotional luncheon for "Good Stuff," a loving memoir about her father, who died in 1986 at age 82.

Jennifer Grant, wearing a sleeveless black dress, is more a ringer for her mother, actress Dyan Cannon, with her wide mouth and narrow build. Her parents divorced when she was a toddler, but she remained close to both and she says Cannon had the highest praise for her book, telling Jennifer that she was "a stone, cold writer."

The lunch was held in the Oak Room of the Plaza hotel, the setting for an early scene in "North by Northwest," the classic thriller starring Cary Grant and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It's a great film, Jennifer Grant says, although she acknowledges that her favorite Cary Grant movie is the "one she saw last."

Being raised by Cary Grant really was like living with "Cary Grant," according to "Good Stuff." He was a "pip" — playful, witty, curious and graceful, right to the end. He wrote her letters of advice and adoration, tolerated her taste for hard rock music and her college infatuation with communism and gently, but mercilessly, defeated her at Trivial Pursuit.

"Dad was miraculous with the infuriating game," she writes. "He'd always complain that he'd forgotten too many important things to be a contender and then pull virtually every answer out of his hat."

It was a VIP life: prime seats at Los Angeles Dodgers games; the best tables at Madame Wu's Garden and other restaurants; a taped birthday message from President Reagan and his wife, Nancy. Holiday guests often included Frank Sinatra, Johnny Carson and Gregory Peck. Sometimes, Grant would fly his daughter to Monaco on his private jet and they would stay at the royal palace with their close friends Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace — Grace Kelly, Grant's co-star in "To Catch a Thief."

Jennifer Grant, the actor's only child, says she had been asked for years to write about her father, but refused until close friends encouraged her. She wrote the book herself, drawing upon home movies and audiotapes Cary Grant made when she was little. She was a senior at Stanford University when he died and the memoir was a way of finally letting him go.

"To write this book is to fully admit, more than 20 years later, that he died," she writes.

Grant retired from filmmaking in 1966, the year Jennifer was born, and she is still learning about her father's career. He rarely talked about his acting days while she was growing up, aside from an occasional reference to Kelly or to "Hitch." She has read little about him and only recently saw his work on the big screen, when she introduced "To Catch a Thief" at a film festival in Dallas.

On Father's Day, she will be at the Film Forum in New York, introducing the screwball masterpiece "Bringing Up Baby," starring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. But she doesn't expect to have the same response as the rest of the audience.

"I'll be seeing my father up there," she says.

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