Growing up in Washington state, there was little doubt in Dyan Cannon’s mind that one day she’d be in movies. “At 5, I was writing stories and putting on shows,” she tells In Touch. “I knew from a very early age.”

In time, she’d fulfill her childhood ambitions by becoming a Golden Globe winner and three-time Oscar nominee, but many first heard Dyan’s name when she wed Hollywood legend Cary Grant in 1965 at age 28. Their five-year relationship, which was dramatized in the recent limited series Archie (available on Prime Video), helped Dyan, 87, discover her strength and self-reliance and develop a deeper relationship with God. “A man doesn’t make me complete or complete me,” says the twice-divorced star. “Understanding that was the key.”

The start of her romance with Cary played out like a movie. After admiring Dyan, then 25, in an episode of TV’s Malibu Run, the actor invited her to a meeting through their agents. “We met, and it was electric. But my little voice said, ‘Don’t go there, he’s been married several times. Do not go there,’” says Dyan, who wrote about their marriage in her 2012 memoir, Dear Cary. Despite a 33-year age gap, Cary was very hard to resist. “I was touring in the show How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying,” she recalls. “He would show up in every city where I was playing. I finally I thought, ‘Wow. OK. He really cares for me.’”

Inside Dyan Cannon and Cary Grant’s Marriage

They wed in 1965, and daughter Jennifer was born the following year, but despite his outward charm and charisma, Cary remained haunted by his sad childhood and the institutionalization of his mother. “He believed that his three failed marriages had much to do with a subconscious fear that his wives would similarly abandon him,” Dyan wrote in her memoir.

As a husband, he seesawed between demanding and aloof. Cary could also be extremely critical of his young wife. “Slowly, he changed the way I dress, my choice of things, the way I wrote thank you notes. He became my Svengali,” she wrote. “He truly became my everything. But that’s very dangerous, because it’s like standing on a rug that anybody can pull out from under you at any moment.”

The end arrived in 1968 when Jennifer was 2. “I really expected him to make me happy,” Dyan reflects. “After all, he was Cary Grant. I made a god out of him in my thinking, and the poor guy had things to work out, like we all do.”

Coparenting their daughter presented challenges, but Dyan says they both tried to be cordial.

“The first and most important thing is that I instilled in Jennifer that the divorce was not her fault,” says Dyan. “What was going on was between me and her daddy, not between us and her. We both loved her dearly, and it was OK for her to love us both.”

Cary Grant ex-wife
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Dyan Cannon Struggled After Cary Grant Split

For Dyan, it was a very difficult period. She experienced a mental breakdown and was hospitalized. She struggled to pick up the threads of a career that had been sidelined by her marriage. “I don’t think anyone took me seriously when I said I wanted to be an actress — before or after I married Cary,” admits the star, who got her big break with 1969’s Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. “Natalie Wood, who was an extraordinary star, remained a good friend until her passing. And Elliott Gould remains a good friend to this day,” says Dyan. “And I was off and running.”

Dyan’s work satisfied her creatively and helped her establish financial stability. She became the first woman in the academy’s history to be nominated for Oscars both in front and behind the camera — yet real happiness only arrived in discovering her faith. “Through the ups and downs, I have found that there is something bigger and stronger than me that I can lean on,” Dyan says.

Raised in a Jewish household that had been rocked by her father’s conversion to Christianity, Dyan learned to be open-minded. “I became the peacemaker, because there was so much friction in the home over what God was and what God wasn’t,” she explains. “I’ve learned how to do that in life. To bring peace to whatever situation is at hand.”

Today, she holds a deep belief in the Almighty, but hesitates to align with a specific tradition. “Labels can be deceiving. There are some who call themselves Christians, or Jews or Buddhists, that I don’t want to be in the same room with,” she says. “The label I’ve come to use is ‘Love.’ Not small letter L, big capital L. Because the Bible tells us that love never fails, and that’s where I live.”

In addition to executive producing Archie, Dyan is still active as an actor. “I’m working on two film scripts. I’m a busy girl, and a happy one.”

She also remains close with her daughter, Jennifer, and her two grandchildren, Davian and Cary, with whom she shares unconditional love. “They are the smartest, most beautiful kids, of course,” says the proud grandmother. “I just adore them. I try to love them in a way that nurtures them and also lets me be a good example.”

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