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Tuesday, 23 October, 2001, 11:12 GMT 12:12 UK
Fight to save Cary Grant's school
Cary Grant
Cary Grant played the fool as schoolboy Archie Leach
A battle is being fought to save the film star Cary Grant's old school in Bristol.

The actor was expelled from Fairfield Grammar School for sneaking into the girls' lavatories.

There are plans to merge it with the city's Lockleaze School as part of a review of secondary education in Bristol.

Parents are campaigning to prevent the merger.

Their plan to save the school involves a move from the old grey stone buildings where the future film star regularly exasperated his teachers.

Fairfield High School
Fairfield High School faces a merger
They are asking City of Bristol College to provide land for new premises.

Cary Grant was born Archie Leach in Horfield, Bristol, in 1904.

He came home one day at the age of nine to be told his mother had "gone to the seaside".

In fact she had been taken to an institution in the city.

Many years later he learned that she was still alive, and made regular trips home to Bristol to see her at the house he bought for her.

His career was born when an electrician at Fairfield Grammar took him backstage during a performance at Bristol Hippodrome.

Off-key singing

He later wrote: "That's when I knew. What other life could there be but that of an actor?"

While still a schoolboy he ran away to join Bob Pender's troupe of knockabout comedians, but his father tracked him down in Ipswich.

Returning to classes at Fairfield was frustrating.

Archie Leach
Cary Grant was born Archie Leach in 1904
He told how a singing teacher once threw a bunch of keys at him for mouthing the words of a song in mocking fashion.

He and a friend decided to climb the wall into the girls' part of the school and investigate the lavatories.

They were caught, and according to Leach's own account, the next day he was expelled in front of his assembled fellow pupils.

He rejoined the Pender troupe, learning pantomime and acrobatics as he toured Britain.

Then in July 1920 he was one of eight Pender boys selected to go to America.

Statue homage

The troupe returned home after 456 performances on Broadway - but Leach stayed on and moved to Hollywood.

A statue of Cary Grant is due to be erected outside Bristol Hippodrome, more than 70 years after he made his break into movies.

The statue has been cast, but problems with the location have delayed it being put in place.

It has been created by Graham Ibbeson, who also sculpted the comedian Eric Morecambe.

Click here to go to BBC Bristol Online
See also:

15 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Home-town honour for Cary Grant
17 Aug 99 | Hitchcock100
Read your favourite Hitchcock moments
01 Jul 99 | Entertainment
Bollywood star tops the poll
31 May 99 | Tom Brook
Hollywood's controversial list
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