Actor Farley Granger dies, age 85

Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:55pm EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - American actor Farley Granger, best known as a 1950s screen idol for his starring roles in Alfred Hitchcock's thrillers "Rope" and "Strangers on a Train," has died. He was 85.

Granger died on Sunday of natural causes at his home in Manhattan, said a spokeswoman at the New York City medical examiner's office.

The San Jose-born actor began his film career early on as a teenager, before embarking on an acting career that spanned several decades and genres, including movies, stage and television.

As a 17-year-old he signed with legendary film producer Samuel Goldwyn, who discovered him on stage in a Hollywood play and committed him to a seven-year contract beginning at $100 a week.

Upon completing his first film in 1943, "The North Star," he soon enlisted in the navy during World War II before returning to Hollywood and starred in 1948's crime drama "Rope," opposite James Stewart, in which Granger played a young pianist who commits murder.

In Hitchcock's psychological thriller "Strangers on a Train," released in 1951, Granger portrayed an amateur tennis player who wants a divorce from his unfaithful wife so he can marry the woman he loves, but is soon suspected of murder.

By the release of that film, he had established a reputation as a handsome, cool, eligible bachelor, and he soon bought out his Goldwyn contract, traveled to Europe, then returned to make several more Hollywood films.

But Granger ditched the movie industry for a career on Broadway, making his debut in 1959 with "First Impressions," a musical version of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," as well appearing in several TV series in the 1950s and 60s.   Continued...