Extracts from
"The Journey"
by Robert Barham.

Chapter Six

In the autumn of 2000 I was granted permission to view a collection of Archie's personal papers, scrapbooks and photos, which are held in Hollywood.

In February of 2001, Joan and I boarded a plane that would carry us away from a frost-covered England, and headed towards the Californian sunshine.
As the plane took off, it occurred to me that we were leaving the world of Archie Leach, and heading for the world of Cary Grant.

After a day resting from our flight, we set off to inspect "The Cary Grant Collection."

It was such an odd feeling as Joan and I first sat down to go through items which would take us a few days to look at, and Archie a lifetime to accumulate.
For so long I had been reading about Archie, and now, I would be looking at things that HE had looked at, and HE had written. It was very exciting, and also, a great privilege.

On the first day we waded through three of Archie's scrap books (there were nearly 30), which were full of press cutting; letters from family; friends and fans; telegrams, and a diary.

The diary was from 1914. It very small, and very little was written in it. However, at the back of it there was a list of friends and their contact details.
Many were friends from the theatre, as next to their names appeared the words "on tour".  There was one name however, and only one name, that had an address next to it, which was Acklem Road, Portobello Road, Kensington.  Now, my family has had an antiques shop in Portobello Road for nearly fifty years, and I wondered what were the odds of me finding the words Portobello Road, in Archie's handwriting, in the only diary in his collection!

As we looked through the collection, I came to realise that not only was Archie a fine actor, one always in demand, but he was also an extraordinary man.
Whatever skills you are born with, or have passed on to you, it is still the individual who has to hone, practice, develop, and hopefully exceed them, along with what he or she naturally has.  Archie’s sheer determination, which must not be underestimated, got him to the top of his chosen profession.

One of my favourite stories - and one of the best examples of this determination - is how in his early days with Bob Pender, and then later on Vaudeville, when he was not required on stage, he would study the other acts, either from the side of the stage, or high up, right at the back of the theatre.  He would often copy another performer's moves in an attempt to help perfect his own stage craft, taking particular note of how they would time lines, when to move, or not move, and so on.  At this time Vaudeville was still going strong, which exposed him to so many different kinds of performance. It would prove to be the ideal training ground for what was to come.

There was restlessness in Archie, which kept him moving on. This desire to always move on took him from a youngster wandering the streets of his hometown in Bristol, to join a troop of traveling acrobats (The Pendertons). He then decides to leave The Pendertons and stay behind in the United States when the rest of the troop returned to England. When he was successful on Broadway, he again moved on to Hollywood, where he made his break into the movies.  Once successful in Hollywood, he chose to become a free agent when his first contract came to an end.  At that time in Hollywood this was a brave and virtually unheard of move.  Archie would involve himself in as much of the movie making process as possible, which in later years would lead to him co-producing many of his films.

Amongst The Cary Grant Collection were various letters and telegrams from Elsie Leach. What I found very amusing was that the early telegrams sent to Archie from Elsie would be addressed as follows.
To... Cary Grant, Film Star. Los Angeles. California.

That evening we looked through the notes we had made during the day. It was clear that what I had already written for the show was very accurate, but little did I know that the next day was to send things in another direction, one I had not foreseen.

There are a large number of photographs in the collection. You are provided with a list of these photos, from which you can then pick what you wish to see.
The following day, to our delight, the photos we had ordered were there for our inspection.

We had to don white gloves, and could only take out one photo at a time, which then had to be replaced in its envelope, and put back in the right file.
Joan was in her organizational element, slapping my eager hand as I reached for the next file before I had even put the previous photo back in its envelope.
The photos were wonderful, many unpublished.  Many were from the early days of Archie’s career, days of touring, sunshine beaches and times with friends.
They showed a man finding his own way in life, carving out his own career and forging his way forward, having left far behind the largely unhappy days in England.  Although deep down I think he was still struggling to overcome those days, there were being buried deeper and deeper.

Then we saw a photo which came as quite a surprise...


The Journey by Robert BarhamIn late 1996 Robert Barham began work on a musical about the early life of Cary Grant. The musical was entitled "Archie". During the course of his research, Robert came across a number of extraordinary coincidences between his own life, and that of Cary Grant. In "The Journey", Robert tells the fascinating story of his three years writing and researching the musical, from page to stage. A tale which would take him from London, to Cary's birth town of Bristol, and finally on to Hollywood. 

To order The Journey, go to http://www.lulu.com/content/877810.  You will then have the ability to download this e-book for $5.90.


Chapter One  |  Chapter Four  |  Chapter Six

Chapter Eight  |  Chapter 11  |  Epilogue

  Autobiography  |  "Archie" the Musical  |  The Journey  |  Guestbook  |  Home

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