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Cary Grant Stamp

The U.S. Postal Service will honor suave, debonair leading man Cary Grant with a stamp later this year, the latest in the Legends of Hollywood series that began with Marilyn Monroe in 1995.

The stamp will be issued Oct. 15, 2002, in Los Angeles, with a ceremony at the ArcLight Cinemas, considered one of the best places to watch a movie in the world. The American Film Institute is participating in the event.

"He has always been voted one of the most popular film stars of all time," chief stamp designer Terry McCaffrey told the Virtual Stamp Club earlier this year.

Grant, born Jan. 18, 1904, in Bristol, England, as Archibald Leach, was so successful in developing his screen persona that audiences would not accept him as anyone else.

"Everybody wants to be Cary Grant," he once told an interviewer. "Even I want to be Cary Grant."

Grant worked as an acrobat, juggler and song-and-dance man, before starring in stage plays in Britain, and then coming to Hollywood in 1932. A year later, Mae West invited him to "come up and see" her in "She Done Him Wrong."

"We didn't want depth from him; we asked only that he be handsome and silky and make us laugh," said film critic Pauline Kael.

He had his greatest success in screwball comedies and in films by Alfred Hitchcock, also honored with a Legends of Hollywood stamp. Grant's first hit was "Topper," in 1937, but "The Awful Truth" that same year is considered the film that made him a star.

His other top films included "Bringing Up Baby" (1938), "His Girl Friday," "My Favorite Wife" and "The Philadelphia Story," (all 1940), and, with Hitchcock, "Suspicion" (1941), "Notorious" (1946), "To Catch A Thief" (1955) and "North By Northwest" (1959).

The crop duster scene from the latter film will be featured in the margin areas of the stamp sheet. The stamp itself features a painting by Michael Deas based on a studio publicity photograph. Deas' other work includes U.S. stamps for Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and others in the Legends of Hollywood series.

Although it's said that Ian Fleming modeled his James Bond character after Grant, Grant turned down the role.

Grant retired from the movies in 1966, but was touring with his one-man show 20 years later when he suffered a major strike in Davenport, Iowa, and died November 28, 1986.

A reporter in search of information once wired Grant's agent: "HOW OLD CARY GRANT?" Grant himself wired back "OLD CARY GRANT FINE. HOW YOU?"

"I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be, and, finally, I became that person. Or he became me," he once said.

He donated his entire salary for "The Philadelphia Story" to the British war effort and his fee for "Arsenic And Old Lace" (1944) to the U.S. War Relief Fund.

Others honored in the Legends of Hollywood series have included James Dean, Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney and, last year, Lucille Ball. Actor Karl Malden is a member of the Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee which helps select subjects for U.S. stamps.

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