Dyan Cannon

Active - 1960 - 2020  |   Born - Jan 4, 1937 in Tacoma, Washington, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Drama

Share on

Biography by Sandra Brennan

With her luxurious, sun-streaked, long mane of curly blond hair, voluptuous and beautiful Dyan Cannon is an actress who is hard to miss. She has been in films and occasionally on television since making her debut opposite Art Carney in The Ding-a-Ling Girl, a presentation on the television series Playhouse 90. Born Samille Diane Friesen in Tacoma, WA, Cannon got her start as a showroom model in L.A. following two years of study in anthropology at the University of Washington. Thanks to the help of writer/producer Jerry Wald, who came up with her stage name (which was originally Diane Cannon), she landed a contract at MGM and made her feature film debut playing Wiggles, a troubled high school student in This Rebel Breed (1960).

She then appeared in The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond (1960). After a couple appearances on Broadway and some work on television, Cannon met and fell in love with Cary Grant, who was 38 years her senior. While involved with him, she placed her acting career on hold. The two married in 1965 and she bore him a daughter. Three years later, Grant and Cannon went through a bitter public divorce. In 1969, Cannon returned to films in the then-controversial sex comedy Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and won the Best Supporting Actress award from the New York Film Critics. Her role also won her an Oscar nomination. The 1970s were her most active period as an actress and Cannon appeared frequently in films. In 1978, she earned another Best Supporting Actress nomination for playing a conniving, adulterous wife in Heaven Can Wait.

By the early '80s, Cannon sharply curtailed her feature-film career, but did appear in a few television movies and miniseries. In 1976, Cannon wrote, produced, directed, and even helped edit a 42-minute film sponsored by the American Film Institute. Titled Number One, Cannon designed it to teach children about sexuality and their bodies. It earned an Oscar nomination for best live-action short. Cannon has since directed two more films, including The End of Innocence, which is based on her autobiography. Cannon returned to acting on a limited basis in the 1990s and continued to appear on television in such outings as Arnold Schwarzenegger's Christmas in Connecticut (1992) and features such as Out to Sea (1997).

Cannon would appear in several films and TV shows over the coming years, memorably appearing on shows like Ally McBeal and Three Sisters.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography


  • Performed in the choir at her synagogue as a child.
  • Studied anthropology in college.
  • Got her start as a showroom model in L.A.
  • Married Cary Grant, who was more than twice her age at the time of their wedding.
  • Years of not working led her to go through her savings and almost lose her house in 1977.
  • Was raised by a Jewish mother and Christian father, but she reconnected with her spirituality as an adult and became an evangelist, forming an outreach called God's Party with Dyan Cannon in 1999.
  • Is known for being a huge fan of the L.A. Lakers.