Farley Granger - Early Life

Early Life

Granger was born in San Jose, California, the son of Eva (née Hopkins) and Farley Earle Granger.

His wealthy father owned a Willys-Overland automobile dealership, and the family frequently spent time at their beach house in Capitola. Following the stock market crash in 1929, the Grangers were forced to sell both their homes and most of their personal belongings and move into an apartment above the family business, where they remained for the next two years. As a result of this financial setback and the loss of their social status, both of Granger's parents began to drink heavily. Eventually the remainder of their possessions were sold at auction to settle their debts, and the elder Granger used the last car on his lot to spirit away the family to Los Angeles in the middle of the night.

The family settled in a small apartment in a seedy part of Hollywood, and Granger's parents worked at various temporary jobs. Their drinking increased, and the couple frequently fought. Hoping he might become a tap dancer, Granger was enrolled by his mother at Ethel Meglin's, the dance and drama instruction studio where Judy Garland and Shirley Temple had started.

Granger's father found work as a clerk in the North Hollywood branch of the California Department of Unemployment, and his salary allowed him to put a small down payment on a house in Studio City, where their neighbor was actor/dancer Donald O'Connor. At his office, Granger's father became acquainted with unemployment benefits recipient Harry Langdon, who advised him to take his son to a small local theatre where open auditions for The Wookie, a British play about Londoners struggling to survive during World War II, were being held. Granger's use of a Cockney accent impressed the director, and he was cast in multiple roles. The opening night audience included talent agent Phil Gersh and Samuel Goldwyn casting director Bob McIntyre, and the following morning Gersh contacted Granger's parents and asked them to bring him to his office that afternoon to discuss the role of Damian, a teenaged Russian boy in the film The North Star.

Granger auditioned for producer Goldwyn, screenwriter Lillian Hellman and director Lewis Milestone. Hellman was trying to convince Montgomery Clift to leave the Broadway play in which he was appearing, and when her efforts proved to be futile, the role was given to Granger, and Goldwyn signed him to a seven-year contract for $100 per week.

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