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Dyan Cannon: 'Bob & Carol's Alice, Cary Grant's Wife, Then And Now

Entertainment | November 30, 2020

Dyan Cannon circa 1963. (Photo by Getty Images)

Dyan Cannon has been a star since the era-defining film Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), in which she played one of four married adults who contemplate swinging. The Oscar-nominated performance set her up to be an in-demand actress in the decade that followed, in such films as The Anderson Tapes, Shamus, Revenge Of The Pink Panther and Heaven Can Wait. Cannon continued acting through the '80s, '90s and beyond, crossing into the 21st century with a recurring role on Ally McBeal.

Cannon Began Her Career With Guest Appearances On TV

Source: Pinterest

Named Samille Diane Friesen on her birth certificate, Dyan Cannon was born January 4th, 1937 in Tacoma, Washington. After dropping out of the University of Washington in Seattle and participating in numerous beauty pageants (eventually winning the title “Miss West Seattle”), she committed her life to becoming an actress. First appearing in the minor leagues of entertainment in 1958 with her small part of an episode of the series Have Gun, Will Travel, she made many numerous TV guest appearances in other shows throughout the next few years including Hawaiian Eye, Ben Casey, The Untouchables, and 77 Sunset Strip, and the westerns Bat Masterson, Wanted: Dead Or AliveJohnny Ringo and Stoney Burke. Cannon’s true film debut occurred in 1960 with her minor role as Dixie in The Rise And Fall Of Legs Diamond. After this feature, she continued guesting in numerous television series and eventually played Rosemary in the national touring production of the Broadway musical How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.  

Cannon Married A Man 33 Years Her Senior

Source: cometoverhollywood.com

Cannon’s life and publicity turned steamy in the early ‘60s when she and famous actor Cary Grant, who was thirty-three years older than her, began an infamous love affair. Grant was one of the leading celebrities of the golden era of classic Hollywood who starred in some of the most iconic films of the ‘30s and ‘40s including The Awful Truth, Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday, and The Philadelphia Story. Although their relationship seemed unnatural to many fans, Cannon stated age was just a number to her and did not really impact her view of others especially Grant. The pair married on July 22, 1965 and had one daughter named Jennifer Grant together. During the marriage, Cannon took a short hiatus from acting to focus her family and raise her daughter. Grant, an avid LSD user, heavily persuaded Cannon to indulge in the drug with him and eventually she gave in to his persistence, but became violently ill and refused to trip again. Grant and Cannon’s union lasted three years, and they divorced on March 21, 1968. 

Cannon Broke Through In 'Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice'

Left: Natalie Wood and Dyan Cannon in 'Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.' Right: Dyan Cannon as Alice. Sources: IMDB; eBay

After her divorce, Cannon returned to the world of entertainment feeling more motivated and excited than ever before. In 1969, she landed her first major role as the conservative Alice Henderson in the classic comedy drama film Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. Cannon was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her part, and from that moment her career was launched for the better. 

Left: Dyan Cannon in 'The Last of Sheila.' Right: Cannon with Omar Sharif in 'The Burglars.' Source: IMDB

1971 was an especially busy year for the actress who starred in five films that included The Burglars, The Love Machine, Doctors’ Wives, The Anderson Tapes, and Such Good Friends, another film that earned her a Golden Globe nomination. The films kept rolling in as she co-starred alongside Burt Reynolds in the 1973 film Shamus, and continued to showcase her talent with leading roles in The Last Of Sheila and Child Under A Leaf throughout the ‘70s. This decade also saw Cannon in some mediocre television series, but her true talent seemed to ensue in comedies.

Dyan Cannon Is An Oscar-Nominated Director

Dyan Cannon with Charles Grodin in 'Heaven Can Wait.' Source: IMDB

One of Cannon’s greatest achievements came from her title as the first actress to be nominated for Best Short Film-Live Action Category for "Number One."  Not only did Cannon write, produce, direct, and edit the 1976 short about young boys exploring their sexuality, but she also played the mother of the character Matt. That same year she guest hosted NBC’s Saturday Night Live during its first season. In 1978, she earned her first award for her hilarious role in Heaven Can Wait as the cheating wife Julia Farnsworth who schemes out a plan to murder her husband, who turns out to be a reincarnated spirit of another man. Cannon’s comical performance won the Saturn Award and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress, and she was nominated for the Academy Award, but lost to Maggie Smith.

Cannon Continued As A Leading Lady Into The '80s

Left: Cannon in 'Revenge of The Pink Panther.' Right: Cannon and Amy Irving in 'Honeysuckle Rose.' Source: IMDB

Although most known for her acting and directing career, Cannon was also a singer/songwriter and utilized her musical skills in the 1980 film Honeysuckle Rose. Cannon sang three songs on the soundtrack, and also played Viv Bonham, the wife of country music star Buck Bonham, played by real-life country star Willie Nelson. In 1982, she starred with Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve in Death Trap, and Al Pacino in Author! Author! Cannon was recognized for her prolific work behind the scenes and on-camera when she received her own star on Hollywood Boulevard after being inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1983. Cannon found love again when she married real estate investor Stanley Fimerg in 1985, but they divorced after six years together. 

Source: ABC

By the mid-80s, Cannon became quite exhausted from all of her various roles in cinema so she began easing her way into smaller roles throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s primarily guesting in television shows. Most famous of these later parts was her recurring role as Judge Jennifer "Whipper" Cone in the late ‘90s legal drama Ally McBeal. She did eventually get back to her typical work as she produced, directed, and played the part as Stephanie in the 1990 made-for-TV movie The End Of Innocence, but kept it easy for the remaining decades. These days, Cannon keeps herself out of the limelight and focuses on her born-again Christian faith and cheering on her favorite team, the Los Angeles Lakers.  

Tags: Dyan Cannon | Ladies | Then And Now

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Emily Morenz

Author

Despite her younger age, Emily Morenz (Emo) is a serious 1960s/1970s enthusiast who is pretty much the Austin Powers of this decade. Through her all-vintage wardrobe, obsession with old time rock 'n' roll, and her mid century bedroom and 1,200+ vinyl collection you might think she just stepped out of a time machine. Emo plays the rare gems of the ‘60s and ‘70s on her radio show on OC’s 101.5 KOCI and teaches rock ‘n’ roll history on her podcast “The Rock & Roll Sweetheart.” When there's not a pandemic, she's rockin’ out with all the middle aged-men at every single classic rock concert happening around the town, and she will battle her away to front row and dance hard. Paul McCartney even once brought her up on stage to dance...while she was in a walrus costume. You also might find Emo surfing waves, skateboarding through a neighborhood, groovin' '60s gogo style, and pretending like she can play bass. And she's obsessed with peanut butter and corgis.