While Cary Grant was married five times throughout his life, he only had one child, Jennifer, with Dyan Cannon. The Hollywood legend appeared to dote on his daughter, too, with the young Grant having what seemed to be a much happier childhood than her father had experienced. And all these years later, Jennifer has grown to look very much like her famous dad. In fact, the resemblance is truly uncanny.
Grant himself had gone through troubled times on the way to becoming a star of the big screen. He entered the world in 1904 as Archibald Leach – a much less glamorous name than the one by which he would later become known. And, unfortunately, his father, Elias, was somewhat of a philanderer.
Then, while Grant was still yet to hit his teens, he was told that his mother, Elsie, had fled the family and gone to live “on the coast.” No one could offer the young boy an explanation as to why Elsie had abandoned him, either, nor reveal when she would be coming back. Grant was devastated, too, when he was later informed that his mother was deceased – although the truth was very different.
Instead, Elsie had been committed to the Bristol Lunatic Asylum by Elias, who had claimed that his wife was suffering from mania. And it wasn’t until Grant was 30 years old and had made it as an actor that he learned his mother was still alive. When the star went to the asylum to see his mom, though, she barely recognized him.
By this point, Elias was dead, and so the now-famous Grant got Elsie out of the institution and began caring for her himself. Yet while the actor subsequently bought his mother a house and paid her frequent visits, the damage had already been done. And despite his fame and fortune, Grant was always haunted by what had happened to Elsie.
Furthermore, it’s suggested that the star’s painful childhood explains more or less why he bounced between wives so quickly. The icon’s first spouse was a performer named Virginia Cherrill, but their marriage lasted barely a year – and the divorce that followed was not an amicable one.
After that episode, in 1942 Grant wed heiress Barbara Hutton, whose family controlled the Woolworth fortune. And the two had plenty in common. Both were divorced, for example, and both had lost – or thought that they had lost – their mothers at young ages. Hutton’s parent had passed away when Hutton was just five years old, meaning her governess had raised her instead.
And it seems that the media swooned over the marriage. At the time, magazine Modern Screen declared, “Barbara and Cary thought they had found the real thing, but they wanted to be sure. So they let their romance age – mellowed it under many moons – [and] tempered it with quarrels. Each day together became more precious, each moment more magical.”
But that relationship didn’t work out, nor did it last very long. The couple officially separated twice, finally divorcing in August 1945; “mental cruelty” was the reason given. Despite this, Grant and Hutton did actually seem to remain friends, and they apparently remained fond of each other thereafter.
Then Grant married his third wife, Betsy Drake, in 1949 – just as his career was starting to slow down a little. And while with Drake, Grant returned to favor in Hollywood and made some of his most famous movies, including the classics To Catch a Thief and North by Northwest.
But by 1962, it was all over. Indeed, Drake claimed in the papers for the divorce filing that Grant “often fell asleep after dinner and preferred television to talking with [her].” After that, Grant quickly fell into the arms of Dyan Cannon, who was a huge 34 years his junior.
Cannon and Grant eloped together in 1965, with Jennifer being born a year later. The actor even quit his career in order to be a father. But the marriage, like many of Grant’s others, didn’t last very long. In 1968 the couple split, with the pair then finding themselves in the position of having to co-parent.
And in 1973 Grant talked to The New York Times Encyclopedia of Film about raising his child following the divorce. He said, “Jennifer and I level with each other. She finds it difficult to leave me, and she also finds it difficult to leave her mother. Any court that can handle that situation has to have the wisdom of Solomon.”
Grant went on, “[Jennifer’s] mother and I are trying to handle it the best we can, and I think the love we feel for Jennifer will be reflected. The press builds these things up so, using words like battling and fighting. Nobody’s fighting; it’s just that when you have a point of disagreement which you cannot resolve, you must go to the man who will arbitrate: the judge.”
Grant also seemed to express his regret at not having had more kids. He showed the interviewer a picture of the seven-year-old Jennifer before saying, “If I had known then what I know now… if I had not been so utterly stupid or selfish… I would have had a hundred children, and I would have built a ranch to keep them on.”
But while Grant was never able to fulfill his wish, it seems that he had been a good father prior to his death in 1986. In a contemporary obituary for the star, The New York Times said, “In [Grant’s] later years, he took great joy in his loving relationship with his only child – his daughter, Jennifer – whose mother was his fourth wife, the actress Dyan Cannon.”
And Grant also left a lot of money to his daughter. His will dictated that most of his fortune should be split between his widow, Barbara Harris, and Jennifer, who was then 20 years old. Jennifer would be given access to half of the inheritance when she turned 30, Grant’s lawyer said at the time, and the rest of it five years later.
Grant’s belongings were similarly distributed among many people, including Jennifer. But there was no actual funeral service or public memorial for the actor, as he hadn’t wanted one. And while Grant’s body was cremated and his ashes were said to have been scattered in the California hills, the exact truth is something only his closest family members know for sure.
Nevertheless, two years after Grant’s death, Cannon told Redbook magazine what her ex-husband had been like as a father. Though the divorce had been bad, she said, she had never wanted Jennifer and Grant to fall out. Cannon even claimed that she had once told her daughter, “Honey, it’s okay to love your dad.”
Jennifer had been only two years old when Cannon and Grant had split up, with the actress having been given custody of the toddler. Grant, by contrast, had been accorded visitation rights every other weekend as well as a full month every year. Yet Cannon was eager to state, “There were many, many, many more times when Cary saw Jennifer, and she was never, ever used as a ‘football’ between us.”
The star also remembered, “Cary let me make all the decisions. When Jennifer was little, I’d send the nurse with her any time she visited Cary so she would be cared for. When she grew out of that stage and wanted to go out while visiting him, he’d say, ‘Call your mother and find out what time you have to be in.’”
Cannon went on, “I wish Cary had participated more in the parenting process, but I don’t think he knew how… I think he thought he was doing the right thing. It’s hard to know what was in his head. So I was the heavy across the board. I never felt overburdened with Jennifer, though I didn’t like always being the heavy. But she’s turned out to be a great kid, so I must have done something right.”
At the time of the chat, Jennifer was 22 years old, and her mother told Redbook that she had just graduated from Stanford University. Cannon added, “The things [Jennifer] talks to me about are confidential, but right now she is working on a TV special about her father.”
Then the interviewer pondered whether Jennifer ever felt burdened by being Grant’s child, to which Cannon replied, “You know something? My kid is so together. She was raised with moral values. She had a daddy she loved very much, a mama she loves very much and a good sense of herself. So I don’t think that weighs on her. She’s got a really good center.”
In any case, Jennifer became an actor just like her father. In the early ’90s she landed a role in Beverly Hills, 90210, and from then until 2015 she forged a career on screen. You may have spotted her in the Friends episode “The One with Two Parts: Part 1,” for example, or in a small cameo in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
And it seems that Jennifer has inherited quite a lot of her father’s good genes, too. During Grant’s heyday, he was widely considered to be a handsome man, with his early movies very much playing on his sex appeal. Then, when he got older, he was considered to have aged very gracefully indeed – much like his daughter has done.
It should be known, though, that Jennifer has also become a parent herself. In August 2008 she gave birth to a baby boy whose name pays tribute to his late grandfather. Jennifer told People magazine at the time, “Cary Benjamin sleeps dreamily on my stomach as we’re both bonding and recuperating. He’s phenomenal.”
And Jennifer has since revealed a great deal more about her famous relative. In 2011 she wrote in her book Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant, “To me, [my dad] was like a marvelous painting. All the art historians wish to break down the motives and the scheme and so on. I would rather know, as I do, his essence. I believe that at the heart of a person lies passion. For the last 20 years of his life, I was given the extraordinary privilege to experience the full, vital passion of his heart.”
Jennifer also explained that her father’s death had pushed her into becoming an actress. Initially, she had planned to begin working at a law firm in San Francisco before engaging in further studies in the same field, although this ultimately never came to pass. Jennifer revealed, “When Dad died, I shifted gears in ten seconds flat. I felt pulled, in an almost subterranean way, home to Los Angeles. Why? If Dad came home, that’s where he’d be.”
And Jennifer also wrote, “The grief of losing my father has come in waves over the years, as it does with most people. His love and devotion as a father provided my closest, most intimate relationship. Dad, and our time together, is in my bones. While reflecting on him, the memories themselves seem to boil down into certain ‘essences of Dad.’ My words, by their nature, are finite. Dad, now, is infinite.”
Also in 2011, Jennifer talked about her decision to name her son after her father. She said to the Daily Mail, “When I knew I was pregnant four years ago with a boy, a friend suggested I call him Cary, but I initially resisted. There was only one Cary Grant. But a week before he was due, I started thinking it would be wonderful to pass the name on to him. And, anyway, my father wasn’t Cary to me. He was Dad.”
Of her child, Jennifer added, “Almost from the start, I saw familiar characteristics in my son. He’s funny, for instance, and he’s been that way from the start. Like his grandfather, he has funny bones. No one had better comic timing than Dad. People ask if any man can ever measure up to him.”
In that particular interview, Jennifer also tackled the question of her father’s sexuality – something about which there had long been rumors. But Grant’s daughter attempted to put the speculation to rest, saying, “Was Dad gay? My gut instinct was [that] he was straight. Perhaps his maverick nature coupled with his grace made him difficult to categorize. Perhaps he had what Virginia Woolf described as ‘an androgynous mind.’ I’m sure he was sometimes a bit flirty with men.”
Jennifer went on, “But, above all, [my dad] was sensitive and looked out for those he loved – [and], luckily for me, none more so than myself. When he died, I had the additional burden of everyone being aware of my grief. Now it’s fine. People stop me all the time with their recollections of Dad, and it gives him a kind of immortality. But it was hard at first. The book was a kind of closure.”
Cannon was also interviewed by the Daily Mail and contributed her memories of Grant. She said, “Though he was so happy to be a father, he’d also get scared as it brought up memories of his childhood. When he was ten, he was told his mother had died, but in fact his father had her committed to an asylum so he could carry on womanizing… Things became polite, almost cold, between us.”
And regarding the gossip about Grant’s sexuality, Cannon explained, “I was in bed with him most of the time, so I didn’t notice. I don’t know what he did before or after me, but I do know there was never another woman or man in our relationship. And he was so full of energy and life that men, women, children… everyone was just drawn to him. Jennifer has a theory [that] Cary enjoyed the rumors because it made women want to prove them wrong, but I don’t know.”
Jennifer also had another child, a daughter called Davian Adele Grant, in 2011. And she has continued to talk about her kids’ famous grandfather as the years have gone by. In 2016, for example, she spoke once again about Grant while on the red carpet of the TCM Classic Film Festival.
There, Jennifer explained that she was introducing one of her father’s films, 1937’s When You’re In Love, that night. And when an interviewer asked her, “How is it for you to see your dad up there on the big screen in all of these films? What does that do to you?” Jennifer answered, “You know, I have all sorts of reactions to seeing my dad – and my mom – on screen.”
The actress went on, “You know, my father retired when I was born, so I didn’t see him working in the industry. [There are] some things that are funny about it. I’ll see him light up a cigarette on camera and I’ll go, ‘He wouldn’t smoke! Oh Dad, what are you doing? You would never pick up a cigarette. You hated nicotine!’”
Jennifer added, “There are other times when you know, I just automatically fill up with tears because he is who he is who he is, and I miss him. And a glance or some look will just get me. It’ll pierce me straight through.” Perhaps, then, those words prove just how beloved Grant was – and remains – to his daughter.
Jennifer isn’t the only lookalike relative of an iconic star, however. And though Elvis Presley may have passed away more than four decades ago now, his legacy definitely still lives on – not least in his grandson Benjamin Keough, who bears a striking resemblance to the King.
You’d be forgiven for not knowing that Elvis has a living grandson, as Benjamin has seemingly been determined to live out his life away from the spotlight. Yet although the young man appears to want to maintain his privacy, his family sometimes share pictures of him. And one photograph of Elvis’ relative particularly wowed fans across the world, as they couldn’t get over just how much he looked like the King.
The story of how Benjamin came into the world is a long and complicated one. As almost every Elvis fan will know, the rocker was married once, to Priscilla Presley. And when the pair first began dating, he was 24 years old, while she was ten years his junior. Apparently, some of the star’s friends raised objections to this sizable age gap, too. But Elvis and Priscilla’s relationship nevertheless flourished, and the iconic musician finally tied the knot with his girlfriend once she reached her early 20s.
Then the couple’s only child, Lisa Marie, came into the world exactly nine months after their wedding on February 1, 1968. Yet Priscilla apparently disliked that she had become pregnant so early. She had even reportedly planned to go on birth control, but it’s said that the young woman had been advised not to by Elvis. Priscilla is rumored to have considered having an abortion, too, but supposedly she eventually decided against it.
In a 1985 piece for People magazine, Priscilla wrote about how she had discovered that she was pregnant. And during the time she was expecting a child, it seemed as though a major priority had been not losing her husband. She said, “I still kept up with my ballet, rode my motorcycle and my horse Domino right up until the eighth month of pregnancy. Elvis thought I was absolutely incredible to keep up with him in every way. That made me happy. I was pleasing him and still by his side every day.”
But Priscilla’s fears were realized when Elvis suddenly asked for a trial separation. Later, she wrote of this period, “I wanted to die. I was seven months along and could not believe what I was hearing. I don’t think Elvis really intended to leave me. It wasn’t his style. I later realized he had questions about how a baby would affect his life.”
Priscilla further mused on her then-husband, “Would his public accept him as a father? He wasn’t even sure if his fans had adapted to his becoming a husband. How loyal would they be?” Luckily, though, the decision to split was soon reversed. She went on, “Within a short time, Elvis’ sensitive nature brought him back to his senses. Two days had passed. The idea of a trial separation was never mentioned again. We both acted as if nothing had been said.”
And once Lisa Marie came into the world, both Elvis and Priscilla were apparently united in their admiration for the new arrival. Priscilla said, “The nurse brought [Lisa Marie] into my room, and I cradled her in my arms. She was so tiny – so beautiful. Elvis came into the room and kissed me, thrilled that we had had a perfectly normal, healthy baby. Then he took us both in his arms and held us.” Unfortunately, though, the happiness didn’t last.
Priscilla went on to write for People, “As the months passed, I realized that now that I was a mother, Elvis was uncertain how to treat me. He had mentioned before we were married that he had never been able to make love to a woman who’d had a child. But throughout my pregnancy – until the last six weeks – we had made love passionately. He’d been very careful each time, afraid that he might hurt the baby or me. Now months had passed.”
And, sadly, the couple’s problems continued to grow. Finally, then, amidst the problems of affairs, legal troubles and drug abuse, Elvis and Priscilla officially divorced on October 9, 1973. Both parents would go on to share custody of their young daughter, and the two were seemingly fine with this arrangement. Then, just four years on from the end of the marriage, Elvis tragically died.
Lisa Marie was just nine years old when her father passed away, in fact. Yet despite the turmoil that racked Elvis’ life, his daughter would always remember him as a good parent. For instance, during a 2007 appearance on Good Morning America, Lisa Marie told Diane Sawyer, “He’d always wake me up to sing in the middle of the night – get on the table and sing. I remember him as my dad, but he was a very exciting dad.”
Lisa Marie also explained that, after Elvis had passed away, she “couldn’t really process what was happening.” And, apparently, one moment in particular was a real struggle for the young girl: the time when she had had to view her father’s body. Lisa Marie said, “I did a lot of strange things that day because it didn’t really settle in. I rode my golf cart. I ran around and smoked cigarettes at nine, in the guard shack somewhere. I was crazy. I don’t know, I did, like, wacky things.”
So there’s no doubt that Lisa Marie’s childhood was far from ordinary. For one, owing to all the money that her famous father had amassed throughout his life, she grew up as the heir to a vast fortune. And after her grandparents Vernon and Minnie passed away, the young woman was therefore worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
But although Lisa Marie’s life began in a rather unconventional manner, her adulthood saw her embark on a common rite of passage: marriage. And in the end, Elvis would have four grandchildren whom he would never know. The first two came from Lisa Marie’s relationship with musician Danny Keough, whom she wed in 1988. These children were Danielle Riley Keough, born in 1989, and Benjamin Storm Keough, who entered the world in 1992.
Lisa Marie divorced Danny in 1994 when Benjamin was still a toddler – although the former couple remained good friends. In 2003 she told the Star Tribune, “I don’t know how, but we’ve managed to stay close… There’s others that I have pain or betrayal associated with that I won’t have anything to do with. But [Danny] and I had a special thing.”
Meanwhile, during her 2007 Good Morning America interview, Lisa Marie considered the similarities that Benjamin and Riley – the name she goes under – share with their famous grandfather. She said, “They both have traits. My son has got this very regal thing about him. He’s just got this dynamic energy that is familiar. And then my daughter, just – the humor, you know. She’s got the intelligence, and she’s smart – although I find her more like my mother than I do [Elvis].”
After splitting from Danny, however, Lisa Marie went through a chaotic period in her life. A mere 20 days after the divorce went through, for example, she married Michael Jackson – a decision that she would later claim to regret. In a 2007 interview with Marie Claire, when asked what her biggest mistake so far had been, the star would say, “Leaving my first marriage for the person that I left it for.”
Lisa Marie even reportedly considered having kids with Jackson, although she ultimately decided against it. In 2010 she told Oprah, “I was looking into the future, and I was thinking I don’t ever want to get into a custody battle with [Jackson]… I don’t want to go head to head with him, so I need to make sure that everyone around is good. I know; I’ve had children. I knew bringing children into certain circumstances – you have to make sure everything’s safe and secure and okay.”
Then in 2002 Lisa Marie married for the third time to actor Nicolas Cage – who is reportedly a massive Elvis fan. The then-13-year-old Riley served as the flower girl, while Benjamin and Cage’s young son Weston were the pageboys. At the time, the media also speculated that Lisa Marie was pregnant with Cage’s baby.
However, Lisa Marie was not pregnant, while the marriage itself lasted barely any time at all. The pair were wed in August, you see, and in November of the same year Cage filed for divorce. In fact, the divorce proceedings ended up lasting longer than the couple’s union: it was May 2004 when the paperwork finally went through.
Seemingly undeterred, Lisa Marie married her fourth husband, producer Michael Lockwood, in 2006. The wedding was held in Japan, with Danny Keough as the best man. Then, two years later, the by now 40-year-old Lisa Marie announced that she was pregnant with twins after newspapers had started criticizing her weight gain.
By the time the two new children were born in October 2008, moreover, Riley was 19 years old and Benjamin 15. And the babies, both girls, were named Harper Vivienne Ann and Finley Aaron Love. In fact, twins are common within the Presley family: Elvis had a stillborn twin brother, and Priscilla had brothers who were twins, too.
So, Lisa Marie now had a big family of her own. And in 2009 she spoke about her life and her children on The Oprah Winfrey Show. She was still very close to Danny, she revealed, saying, “I knew that no matter what happened, we would always be connected. And I don’t know how I knew that at such a young age, but I instinctively knew that and had those children with him. And we are like best friends: brother and sister.”
In the interview, Lisa Marie also explained that Danny actually lived on the same property as her. She added, “It’s hard to have that kind of relationship with your ex… but I think it’s very important if you have children with somebody to keep your responsibility. You don’t need to put what you guys went through or what you had with each other on the children.”
Then, when Oprah asked Lisa Marie, “What do you think you’re best at as a mother?” she answered, “Just overwhelming [my children] with affection and love. They need to push me off of them… And then having that versus being their friend – trying really hard to be their friend as well as be a mother. That’s the fence you walk, which is important because you can’t go too much on one side or the other.”
And Oprah also asked, “How do you instill in [your children] what’s important as a human being? As a citizen of the world, your community, when you’ve got everything?” Lisa Marie replied, however, “You have to be an example. I’m not somebody who sits around. I’m not happy unless I’m helping other people. And they watch me, and they see that.”
That same year, there were rumors that Benjamin was going to try and make it in the music industry – just like his grandfather. In October 2009 U.K. newspaper the Daily Mail reported, “The slicked-back hair, full lips and rock star swagger are all present and correct. All [Benjamin] needs now is a pair of blue suede shoes.”
The Daily Mail quoted Benjamin as saying, however, that his “music will be nothing like Elvis – nothing like him at all.” Meanwhile, an unnamed spokesman was reported to have said of the young man, “He’s a typical 17-year-old. He doesn’t get up before midday and then grunts at you.” It was reported, too, that Benjamin’s record deal was worth a whopping $5 million.
Yet that turned out in the end to be a false story. That same month, U.K. newspaper the Daily Mirror reported that Peter LoFrumento, the executive vice-president of the company Universal Music, had told the media, “This story is totally untrue.” And indeed no music by Benjamin – Elvis-like or not – has ever been released.
Then in 2012 Lisa Marie released a music video for the track “I Love You Because” that featured footage of her parents and all of her children. And Benjamin – who was 19 at the time – particularly caught people’s eyes. In October of that year, TV network CMT asked Lisa Marie of her son, “He looks so much like Elvis. Does he get that reaction a lot?”
Lisa Marie answered, with a laugh, “He does! He was at the [Grand Ole] Opry and was the quiet storm behind the stage! Everybody turned around and looked when he was over there. Everybody was grabbing him for a photo because it is just uncanny. Sometimes I am overwhelmed when I look at him.”
And several years later, the family resemblance became all the clearer. In June 2019 Lisa Marie posted an Instagram picture of herself and all four of her children, captioned “Mama Lion with cubs.” What’s more, people were seemingly awestruck at how much like Elvis Benjamin appeared. One commenter wrote, for example, “Your son is almost a twin to your dad! Thanks for sharing this pic!”
Newsweek magazine wrote of the snap, meanwhile, “Following a family picture posted Thursday by Elvis Presley’s daughter, Lisa Presley, Twitter users had to do a double-take after seeing her son, Benjamin” and declared that the young man “looks to be a spitting image of his famous grandfather.” Benjamin himself, however, said nothing about the viral pic.
In fact, despite his family’s fame, Benjamin keeps a very low profile. He seemingly has no social media, for instance, and gives no interviews. Over the years, he’s only really popped up on his mother’s Instagram and on a 2005 documentary called Elvis by the Presleys. And the only snippets about his life that people know were mostly revealed by his mother or older sister.
In a 2013 interview with HuffPost, Lisa Marie revealed that, like many kids, her own children didn’t always have time for their mother. Apparently, Benjamin “loves touring. It’s on his time frame. Always.” Lisa Marie added of her son, “Then when he’s ready to see me, he’ll come.” Both Benjamin and Riley, she continued, “always have something pressing going on at that age.”
Riley has made a name for herself, in any case, as an actress, having appeared in movies such as Mad Max: Fury Road, Logan Lucky and Magic Mike. And in interviews about her ever more successful career, the rising star has occasionally shared some tidbits about what life was like for her and Benjamin growing up.
In 2017 Riley told U.K. newspaper The Guardian, “I grew up very privileged with my mother, but my dad didn’t live like that. And I think experiencing both sides has been helpful. My father had mattresses on the floor of his apartments. He lived in cabins and trailer parks. He just didn’t have much money.” It’s probably safe to say, then, that Benjamin experienced the same.
Furthermore, Lisa Marie made sure that her kids knew who their grandfather was. In 2014, when Benjamin and Riley were adults and the twins were five, she appeared on the show Oprah: Where Are They Now and said, “They kind of know, because they heard music and stuff, and they’ve gotten the idea.”
Lisa Marie went on, “I just say [that Elvis] was a very special person who sang, and he touched a lot of people in the world, [and] people loved him and they’re going to love you because of him. And they kind of understand that.” There’s no doubt, though, that that’s a very big legacy to try and live up to.
In the same Oprah interview, meanwhile, Lisa Marie talked about how she parented and continued to parent her children. She announced, “I’m very, very protective, number one. Also, [I] want to be their friend and protect them but also get them to learn how to live in the world that we’re living in.”
So if Benjamin does decide to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and become a music star, it seems that he’s got a good support system in place. At the moment, though, he’s still keeping a low profile, and those who want to see more of his Elvis-like features will just have to keep tabs on his family’s social media – even if one day that may all well change.