How Dyan Cannon wooed notorious lothario Cary Grant – who was 33 YEARS her senior – luring him away from Hollywood by giving him his only child… before romance imploded amid torrid allegations of jealousy and drug abuse
- Dyan, now 86, wed Cary in 1965 when she was 28 and he was 61, splitting in 1968
- She laid bare their romance in a memoir that is now being turned into a show
- READ MORE: Dyan Cannon holds hands with male companion during rare outing
By the time Cary Grant met Dyan Cannon in 1962, he had already racked up an immense list of acting credits and cemented himself as the one of Hollywood’s top leading men – but he had also earned a reputation as a notorious player.
With three failed marriages already under his belt and accusations of abuse, alcoholism, and infidelity surrounding him – it seemed as though his and Dyan’s romance was doomed from the start.
All of Cary’s exes had a similar story to tell: the heartthrob wooed them with his suave personality, debonair confidence, and memorizing charm, but ultimately chose the razzle and dazzle of Hollywood over family life.
So when he started dating Dyan, a budding young star 33 years his junior who was still trying to break into the industry, many wondered: would she be the one to finally tame the famous flirt?
Actress Dyan Cannon laid bare the intimate details of her romance with acclaimed actor and notorious player Cary Grant in her 2011 memoir, and now it’s being turned into a new show
As the world gears up for the arrival of upcoming series, take a look inside Dylan’s fascinating life. She’s seen left this week and right in 1979
It was only natural that Dyan, now 86, and Cary became Hollywood’s ‘it’ couple practically overnight – paparazzi followed them everywhere they went and the media covered their every move.
On the outside, it looked as though the acclaimed actor had finally found love, but behind the scenes, Dyan later claimed that their marriage was plagued by explosive fights due to his deep-rooted insecurities and his immense jealousy, which stemmed from a traumatic childhood and were only fueled by his rampant drug use.
She laid bare the horrendous details of their torrid relationship in an explosive tell-all memoir back in 2011 – which is now being turned into a brand new ITV show that will premiere later this month.
While Dyan and Cary ultimately split in 1968 after only three years of marriage, there was one thing that resulted from their relationship that ultimately changed Cary forever – the birth of their daughter, Jennifer.
They welcomed a baby girl together in 1966, and becoming a father inspired Cary to turn over a new leaf. He decided to quit acting to put his focus on raising her full time, leaving his wild ways behind and transforming himself into a devoted family man instead.
The relationship also transformed Dyan’s life for the better – as dating one of the biggest actors on the globe propelled her into the spotlight and helped to launch a major career for the young starlet.
She started dating Cary as an unknown actress who was just starting out, but by the time they went their separate ways, she was one of the most sought-after faces in Hollywood.
After their split, she went on to star in a slew of movies and TV shows, earned a bunch of Oscar nominations, dabbled in producing, directing, and writing, and released her bestselling book about her and Cary’s roller-coaster ride love story that will now be portrayed on TV.
As the world gears up for the arrival of upcoming series, FEMAIL went ahead and recapped Dyan’s journey from start to finish.
From how she caught the eye of the acclaimed actor despite hardly having a career to what it was really like to be with the man sought after by millions of women – take a look inside the fascinating life of Dyan Cannon.
Her early years: Dyan started off as a beauty pageant queen and was crowned Miss West Seattle in high school – before she switched her focus to acting and landed her first movie role in 1962
Dyan, born on January 4, 1937 in Tacoma, Washington, began competing in beauty pageants during high school and was crowned Miss West Seattle in 1954. She’s seen in 1959
Dyan (seen in 1959) dropped out of college in 1957 and moved to LA where she began pursuing a career in modeling and acting, eventually leading to her signing a contract with MGM in 1960
Dyan, born on January 4, 1937 as Samille Diane Friesan, grew up in Tacoma, Washington, with her insurance salesman father, Ben, stay-at-home mother, Claire, and younger brother David.
During high school, she began competing in beauty pageants and was crowned Miss West Seattle in 1954.
After graduating, she headed to the University of Washington, but decided to drop out two years later in 1957.
She then moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where she lived with her aunt and worked at the investment bank Merrill Lynch & Co.
Soon after, she fell in love with a businessman, and the two quickly got engaged and moved to Los Angeles, California, together.
That year, she made her film debut in the movie The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond (seen)
In 1962, she headed to New York City after scoring a part in the Broadway show The Fun Couple (seen) alongside Jane Fonda
And while their romance fizzled out soon after, she decided to stay in LA to pursue a career in modeling.
For a few years, Dyan modeled for a few small outlets and companies while also studying acting with acclaimed teacher Sanford Meisner.
During this time, she landed some brief roles in various TV series – which lead to her earning a contract with MGM studios in 1960.
That year, she made her film debut in the movie The Rise And Fall Of Legs Diamond, and in 1962, she headed to New York City after scoring a part in the Broadway show The Fun Couple alongside Jane Fonda.
After that, she joined the touring company of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, and made a few more guest appearances in shows like Gunsmoke, CBS’s The Reporter, the detective drama 77 Sunset Strip, and the western series Two Faces West.
Catching the eye of Hollywood’s leading man: Actor and notorious player Cary became smitten with Dyan after he saw her in a show in 1960, and he already had three failed marriages under his belt
While trying to break into the industry, Dyan caught the attention of Cary (seen in 1946) – a handsome Hollywood heartthrob who was 33 years her senior
Cary was best known for starring in many of Alfred Hitchcock’s films, including Suspicion, Notorious, To Catch A Thief, and North By Northwest (seen)
While trying to break into the industry, Dyan caught the attention of Cary – a handsome Hollywood heartthrob who was 33 years her senior and had already racked up an immense list of acting credits and had cemented himself as the one of industry’s top leading men, but had also earned a reputation as a notorious player.
The English actor started his career off by starring in vaudeville theater shows in the 1920s, before he headed to Hollywood to try to become an on-screen actor.
Throughout the ’30s and ’40s, he was cast in a slew of movies including Blonde Venus, She Done Him Wrong, The Awful Truth, Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday, The Philadelphia Story, Only Angels Have Wings, Penny Serenade, and None But The Lonely.
He grew close to acclaimed director Alfred Hitchcock during that time, and landed the lead role in many of his biggest films, including Suspicion, Notorious, To Catch A Thief, and North By Northwest.
It’s been said that Cary inspired the character James Bond after author Ian Fleming saw him in the movie Notorious, and became enthralled with his suave personality and debonair confidence.
Amid Cary’s immense fame and success, he became known as an ardent womanizer, and was linked to some of the most glamorous actresses and socialites on the globe during the early years of his career.
By the time he met Dyan, he had been married three times. He is seen with his first wife, Virginia Cherrill, whom he was with from 1934 – 1935
He then wed socialite Barbara Hutton (left) in 1942 but they divorced in 1945, and he was married to starlet Betsy Drake (right) from 1949 to 1962
And by the time he met Dyan, his love life had already been filled with multiple messy divorces, shocking accusations of abuse, and rumors of affairs.
He was married three times before he and Dyan started dating – he tied the knot with actress Virginia Cherrill in 1934 but they split one year later, he wed socialite Barbara Hutton in 1942 but they divorced in 1945, and he was married to starlet Betsy Drake from 1949 to 1962.
Following his split from Virginia, she accused him of drinking excessively, refusing to pay their bills, making fun of her acting, and even getting violent with her during their one-year marriage.
His romance with Betsy also came to a fiery end after it was revealed that he had cheated on her with his costar, Sophia Loren.
It seemed that all of his exes had a similar story to tell: Cary wooed them with his memorizing charm, but ultimately chose the razzle dazzle of Hollywood over family life.
‘My hope was to get affection. I didn’t know I had to give it, too,’ Cary once admitted, while reflecting on his failed marriages.
Thanks to Cary’s acclaim in the industry, when Dyan, an up-and-coming actress with hardly any roles under her belt, found out that he wanted to meet with her in 1962, she was completely shocked.
Cary became smitten with Dyan after seeing her in an episode of the 1960 show Malibu Run and asked to meet. They started dating in 1962 and quickly became Hollywood’s ‘it’ couple
She explained in her book that she got a call from her agent who revealed that Cary had asked to speak with her, and she ‘couldn’t believe’ her ears.
She wrote in the tome that she later learned that he had became smitten with her after seeing her in an episode of the 1960 show Malibu Run.
They met at his office in Universal Studios and the connection was apparent almost immediately. They talked for four hours that day and started dating soon after.
Dyan and Cary became Hollywood’s ‘it’ couple practically overnight. Paparazzi followed them practically everywhere they went and the media covered their every move – as the world wondered, who really was the young star that had stolen the famous flirt’s heart and would she be the one to finally tame him?
‘I felt like the queen sitting next to the king. If you think he exuded charm on the screen, being with him, it was like, times it by a billion,’ Dyan gushed in her memoir about dating Cary.
‘Our romance was beautiful. We talked so easily. We connected on so many levels. I loved to hear him sit at the piano and sing Cole Porter songs to me.
‘I loved to play word games with him. It didn’t matter to me honestly what we did. I was happy. But he didn’t know how to be happy.’
Turning over a new leaf? Cary quit acting after he and Dyan welcomed their daughter together so that he could focus on being a dad full time – going from ardent womanizer to dedicated family man
The two married in July 1965, when she was 28 and he was 61, and they welcomed a daughter, Jennifer, together in 1966
The two married in July 1965, when she was 28 and he was 61, and they welcomed a daughter, Jennifer, together in 1966.
Becoming a dad changed everything for Cary – and it seemed he had turned over a new leaf.
After Jennifer’s birth, Cary decided to step back from the spotlight and give up his acting career after she was born so that he could give his daughter his full attention
He decided to step back from the spotlight and give up his acting career after she was born so that he could give his daughter his full attention.
Jennifer, who has dabbled in acting herself over the years, later wrote in her book of her father, ‘The fact is we were incredibly close. He retired at 60, when I was born, so I had him for the first 20 years of my life.
‘Although I lived with my mother, she’d be away making a film for three months, say, and I’d be at my father’s house. I saw him so much more than the child of divorced parents might expect.’
Jennifer also recalled how the movie star taught her to value money from a young age.
‘One of the myths about Dad was that he was mean. That simply wasn’t true. I always found him generous to a fault – but he wasn’t reckless with his money, which was rather rare in Hollywood,’ she continued.
Jennifer (seen as a baby with Cary and Dyan) later wrote in her book of her father: ‘We were incredibly close. He retired when I was born, so I had him for the first 20 years of my life’
‘He’d grown up with nothing and he wasn’t about to fritter it all away. His attitude was he knew he could walk into any shop and buy whatever he wanted. He just didn’t have to. That taught me the proper value of money.
‘His style was innate. In many ways, he invented himself. He knew what he wanted and he stuck to it.
‘And he was just like that at home. I never once saw him dressed down. Even his pajamas were monogrammed.’
In her book, Jennifer, who had guest roles on Beverly Hills, 90210 and Friends, added that her dad was extremely ‘thoughtful’ and always ‘looked out for those he loved.’
‘The best word to describe my father? Thoughtful,’ she gushed.
‘There was a tender quality to Dad that his sense of fun could sometimes mask. But, above all, he was sensitive and looked out for those he loved.’
Disastrous marriage: Dyan claimed Cary made fun of the way she looked, would erupt into fits of rage if she was too friendly with other men, and pressured her to do drugs before they split in 1968
In her book, Dyan claimed that Cary would make fun of the way she looked, erupt into fits of rage if she was too friendly with other men, and even pressured her to do drugs
While becoming a father transformed Cary from a wild partier to dedicated family man, it wasn’t enough to save his marriage to Dyan.
In the memoir, she said there were ‘fundamental problems’ in their relationship from the start, claiming that he would make fun of the way she looked, erupt into fits of rage if she was too friendly with other men, and even pressured her to do drugs before they ultimately split in 1968.
She explained that the movie star ‘took issues with what she wore’ and that he was ‘furious’ when she would lighten her hair because he believed ‘blondes were bubbleheads.’
In addition, she described how his ‘moods would shift without warning or apparent cause.’
‘I never knew what was going to set him off next and when he wasn’t at work he trailed me around the house, listing my shortcomings,’ she wrote.
‘I didn’t place a coaster under my water glass. I parked my car in the driveway crooked.
‘I shouldn’t be so friendly to the postman because he might get the wrong idea, or to the maid because it was good to keep a distance.
‘On and on it went and no matter how much I tried to change, it never seemed to be enough.’
She also claimed that Cary started taking LSD in the late ’50s because he ‘thought it was going to help him find peace’ and believed the drug was a ‘gateway to God.’
And she described being ‘unsettled by his enthusiasm for’ the illicit substance, and said his ‘tactics to try to persuade her to try it were rather underhand.’
She said she ultimately decided to give the drug a go when things started to fall apart for her and Cary because she thought it would bring them ‘closer together’ and help ‘save their marriage.’
‘I knew I shouldn’t do it, but I did it to please him and to save our marriage,’ she recalled.
Dyan and Carry divorced in 1968 after three years of marriage. They’re seen in 1966
‘I kept saying, “How is this going to help me find God? How is this going to help you find God?”‘
In her book, Dyan said that she believed the actor was haunted by the traumas he faced in his childhood, and that’s why he was unable to stay in a relationship long-term.
She explained how he came home from school at age 10 to discover that his mother had vanished.
And while his ‘alcoholic’ dad claimed that she had died, only to reveal 20 years later that she had actually been sent to a mental institution.
‘At 10, Cary comes home from school one day and he says, “Where’s Mom?” His father said, “She went to the seashore for a visit,”‘ Dyan wrote.
‘Cary thought, “Oh my God, I must have done something wrong.” Three months later, his father says she’s dead.
‘Cary wanted to live with his dad, who by now is living with a younger girl and has a baby with her.
‘The father says, “There really is no room here for you.” He is abandoned by his father and thinks his mother is dead.
‘Her disappearance from his life when he was a little boy had a long-lasting psychological impact, and he believed that his three failed marriages had much to do with a subconscious fear that his wives would similarly abandon him.’
She said that for two decades, Dyan believed his mother was gone – but his dad later revealed that she had actually been in an ‘insane asylum’ the entire time.
She said Cary was riddled with immense ‘guilt’ over it for years to come, writing: ‘He never forgave himself for not somehow realizing the truth earlier.
‘”I’d become wealthy and famous, living this very grand life, and all along my poor mother had been rotting away in this hell-hole,”‘ he told me.’
Dyan and Carry divorced in 1968 after three years of marriage. Following their split, she described suffering from a ‘breakdown’ in her book, which saw her being ‘admitted to a psychiatric hospital.’
She said that she was told by doctors that the LSD she took with Cary ‘had contributed to her fragile state of mind, and that she was lucky to be alive.’
‘The truth is that Cary never loved the woman I was. He loved the “enlightened” woman he hoped LSD would help me become,’ she concluded.
Following their split, Cary wed a publicist 47 years his junior, named Barbara Harris, in 1981. They were together up until he died of a stroke in 1986 at age 82.
Dating one of the biggest actors on the globe had its perks: Following the split, Dyan acted in a slew of big movies and released a bestselling book about the romance
While Dyan’s split from Cary may have negatively impacted her mental health, it certainly helped her career. She’s seen in 1980
Being linked to the acclaimed actor put her on the map and turned her into one of the most sought-after stars in Hollywood. She’s seen in 1985
She landed her first major film role in the 1969 flick Bob & Carole & Ted & Alice (seen) – one year after she and Cary split
After that, she starred in The Anderson Tapes (left), Heaven Can Wait, Honeysuckle Rose (right), Coast To Coast, Author! Author!, Christmas in Connecticut, and Ally McBeal
While Dyan’s split from Cary may have negatively impacted her mental health, it certainly helped her career.
She tried her hand at marriage again, tying the knot with a real estate investor named Stanley Fimberg in 1985, but they split in 1991. They’re seen in 1986
Being linked to the acclaimed actor put her on the map and turned her into one of the most sought-after stars in Hollywood.
She landed her first major film role in the 1969 flick Bob & Carole & Ted & Alice – one year after she and Cary split – which earned her an Academy Award and Golden Globe nomination.
After that, she starred in the 1971 drama The Love Machine, The Anderson Tapes alongside Sean Connery and Christopher Walken, the black comedy Such Good Friends (for which she received a nomination for Best Actress at the Golden Globes), the sports fantasy film Heaven Can Wait (which got her another Golden Globe and Oscar nod), Honeysuckle Rose alongside Willie Nelson, the 1980 rom-com Coast To Coast, Author! Author! alongside Al Pacino, Disney’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Mom, Caddyshack II, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Christmas in Connecticut, and the legal drama series Ally McBeal.
Throughout the mid-’70s, she also began starring in own musical stage act at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, and started directing and writing her own short films.
Throughout the ’90s and early 2000s, Dyan acted in a ton more movies and shows like 8 Heads In A Duffel Bag, Beverly Hills Family Robinson (seen), and Three Sisters
She took a 13-year hiatus from acting after the 2008 Hallmark movie A Kiss At Midnight, but she returned to the screen for the 2021 movie Hope’s Legacy. She’s seen in 2001
Dyan (seen last year) released the memoir about her and Cary’s romance, called Dear Cary: My Life with Cary Grant, in October 2011, which is now being turned into a show called Archie
The series will star Jason Isaacs as Cary and Laura Aikman as Dyan, and will premiere on November 23. Jason and Laura are seen in the upcoming show
In addition, she tried her hand at marriage again, tying the knot with a real estate investor named Stanley Fimberg in 1985, but they split in 1991.
Throughout the ’90s and early 2000s, Dyan acted in a ton more movies and shows like 8 Heads In A Duffel Bag with Joe Pesci, the TV movie Beverly Hills Family Robinson alongside Sarah Michelle Gellar, the sitcom Three Sisters, and Hallmark’s A Kiss At Midnight.
But she slowed down after that. She took a 13-year hiatus from acting before returning to the screen for the 2021 movie Hope’s Legacy.
During her break, she released the memoir about her and Cary’s romance, called Dear Cary: My Life With Cary Grant, in October 2011.
The book went on to become a New York Times Best Seller and it is now being turned into an ITV miniseries, which she is set to produce.
Entitled Archie, the show will star Jason Isaacs as Cary and Laura Aikman as Dyan, and will premiere on November 23.
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