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'Good Stuff': Cary Grant's Daughter On Growing Up

For most of the world, Cary Grant was a Hollywood icon, but to Jennifer Grant he was simply Dad.

The screen legend retired from acting at 62 when his daughter was born in 1966. He went on to devote the last 20 years of his life to fatherhood, giving his daughter the kind of life only he could give with trips to Monaco and Christmas dinners with the Sinatras. But it was the quality of that life that left a mark.

Jennifer Grant chronicles her close relationship with her father in her new book, Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant.

Grant tells NPR's Jacki Lynden that she got the book's title from one of her dad's favorite expressions.

"It's something he used to say when he was happy," Grant says. "It could be a very, very simple day. We might be sitting out on the front lawn. Dad loved classical music and we might be listening to some Stravinsky or something and having some tea and eggs. And he'd say, 'Oh, good stuff, isn't it?'"

Cary Grant — who was a native of Bristol, England — took his daughter everywhere with him when he could, and was known for keeping a camera on hand to record their time together. In fact, Grant says, after her father retired, much of the focus he had once put into his acting was put to use in raising her and documenting her childhood.

"He wanted me to have accurate records of my life growing up with him because his own records were burned in the bombings of Bristol in World War II," she says. "So he made all of these tapes and Super 8 films, and took slides and photographs. And every note I wrote him, every note he wrote me — and letter — he saved in boxes. And he put them in a fireproof vault in our house to ensure the safety of these archives for me."

Grant says looking back on her father's archives has allowed her to better understand who he was as a father. She recalls one Halloween when he rented a house in the neighborhood she was trick-or-treating in just so he would be able to see her and give her candy.

"At the time ... I was embarrassed, I think, by the extent of his love and devotion to me. So I just sort of ran up and got the candy and gave him a hug and left. It's moments like that that I look back on — and I regret those moments. I wish I'd just sat down and said, 'Oh, thank you Dad!'" she says.

"Looking back at the lengths he went to [to] parent," Grant says, "that's been the beauty of writing this book."

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