Yesterday on Tuner Classic Movies’s Summer of the Stars, Cary Grant was the feature star. I love Cary Grant. In my opinion, there has never been, before or since, an actor as handsome and with such charisma as Cary Grant. In honor of Grant, I wanted to write a post about him.
|A master of the screwball comedy.|
Archibald Alexander Leach, better known by his stage name Cary Grant. With his distinctive mid-Atlantic accent, he was noted as perhaps the foremost exemplar of the debonair leading man, not only handsome, but also witty and charming. He was named the second Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute. Grant starred in some of the classic screwball comedies. His popular classic films include The Awful Truth (1937), Bringing Up Baby (1938), Gunga Din (1939), Only Angels Have Wings (1939), His Girl Friday (1940), The Philadelphia Story (1940), Suspicion (1941), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), Notorious (1946), To Catch A Thief (1955), An Affair to Remember (1957), North by Northwest (1959), and Charade (1963). From the beginning of his career to the end, I have never seen a bad or even mediocre, Cary Grant movie. They have all been some of my favorite movies.
|With Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday|
At the 42nd Academy Awards the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored him with an Honorary Award “for his unique mastery of the art of screen acting with the respect and affection of his colleagues”.
Cary Grant embodied the elegance, charm, and sophistication of Hollywood in its golden years. His good looks, charisma, and ambiguous sexuality enchanted women and men alike. As the star-struck comedian Steve Lawrence once said, “When Cary Grant walked into a room, not only did the women primp, the men straightened their ties.”
Grant was married five times. He wed Virginia Cherrill on February 10, 1934. She divorced him on March 26, 1935, following charges that Grant had hit her. In 1942 he married Barbara Hutton, one of the wealthiest women in the world, and became a father figure to her son, Lance Reventlow. The couple was derisively nicknamed “Cash and Cary”, although in an extensive prenuptial agreement Grant refused any financial settlement in the event of a divorce. After divorcing in 1945, they remained lifelong friends. Grant always bristled at the accusation that he married for money: “I may not have married for very sound reasons, but money was never one of them.”
On December 25, 1949, Grant married Betsy Drake. He appeared with her in two films. This would prove to be his longest marriage, ending on August 14, 1962. Drake introduced Grant to LSD, and in the early 1960s he related how treatment with the hallucinogenic drug—legal at the time—at a prestigious California clinic had finally brought him inner peace after yoga, hypnotism, and mysticism had proved ineffective. (In 1932, Grant had also met the Indian spiritual teacher Meher Baba.) Grant and Drake divorced in 1962.
|Grant and Cannon|
He eloped with Dyan Cannon on July 22, 1965 in Las Vegas. Their daughter, Jennifer Grant, was born prematurely on February 26, 1966. He frequently called her his “best production” and regretted that he had not had children sooner. The marriage was troubled from the beginning and Cannon left him in December 1966, claiming that Grant flew into frequent rages and spanked her when she “disobeyed” him. The divorce, finalized in 1968, was bitter and public, and custody fights over their daughter went on for nearly ten years.
On April 11, 1981, Grant married long-time companion Barbara Harris, a British hotel public relations agent, who was 47 years his junior. They renewed their vows on their fifth wedding anniversary. Fifteen years after Grant’s death, Harris married former Kansas Jayhawks All-American quarterback David Jaynes in 2001.
|With Randolph Scott|
Some, including Hedda Hopper and screenwriter Arthur Laurents have said, that Grant was bisexual, the latter writing that Grant “told me he threw pebbles at my window one night but was luckless”. Grant allegedly was involved with costume designer Orry-Kelly when he first moved to Manhattan, and lived with Randolph Scott off and on for twelve years. Richard Blackwell wrote that Grant and Scott were “deeply, madly in love”, and alleged eyewitness accounts of their physical affection have been published. Alexander D’Arcy, who appeared with Grant in The Awful Truth, said he knew that Grant and Scott “lived together as a gay couple”, adding: “I think Cary knew that people were saying things about him. I don’t think he tried to hide it.” The two men frequently accompanied each other to parties and premieres and were unconcerned when photographs of them cozily preparing dinner together at home were published in fan magazines.
|Grant and Scott|
Barbara, Grant’s widow, has disputed that there was a relationship with Scott. When Chevy Chase joked about Grant being gay in a television interview Grant sued him for slander; they settled out of court. However, Grant did admit in an interview that his first two wives had accused him of being homosexual. Betsy Drake commented: “Why would I believe that Cary was homosexual when we were busy fucking?”
In 1932 he met fellow actor Randolph Scott on set, and the two shared a rented beach house (known as ‘Bachelor Hall’) on and off for twelve years. Rumours ran rampant at the time that Grant and Scott were lovers. From 1933 onwards, Cary Grant occasionally shared a house with Randolph Scott. There were many rumors about their relationship. Scott often referred to himself, jokingly, as Grant’s wife. Many studio heads threatened not to employ them unless they lived separately.
|Grant and Scott|
In their biographies of Grant, Marc Eliot, Charles Higham and Roy Moseley contend that Grant was bisexual. Higham and Moseley claim that Grant and Scott were seen kissing in a public car park outside a social function both attended in the 1960s. In his book, Hollywood Gays, Boze Hadleigh cites an interview with homosexual director George Cukor, who commented on the alleged homosexual relationship between Scott and Grant: “Oh, Cary won’t talk about it. At most, he’ll say they did some wonderful pictures together. But Randolph will admit it—to a friend.” (It should be noted that there is substantial disagreement as to the veracity of Hadleigh’s works.) It has even been suggested that Grant and Scott were married in a secret ceremony in Mexico. Randolph Scott’s son Christopher refuted these rumors. Following the death of his father in 1987, Christopher wrote a book, Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott?
|Grant and Scott|
According to screenwriter Arthur Laurents, Grant was “at best bisexual”. William J. Mann’s book Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood, 1910-1969 recounts how photographer Jerome Zerbe spent “three gay months” (his words) in the movie colony taking many photographs of Grant and Scott, “attesting to their involvement in the gay scene.” Zerbe says that he often stayed with the two actors, “finding them both warm, charming, and happy.” In addition, Darwin Porter’s book, Brando Unzipped (2006) claims that Grant had a homosexual affair with Marlon Brando.
|Grant and Scott|
Whether Cary Grant was heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual doesn’t really matter to me, he was a great actor. His former wife, Dyan Cannon was thrust into the Hollywood celebrity whirlpool in 1965 when, at 28, she married superstar Cary Grant who was 35 years her senior. It was Cannon’s first marriage and Grant’s fourth. She has always been adamant when asked about Grant’s sexuality saying “I can tell you there isn’t an iota of truth to those ugly rumors. They would never have written that drivel when Cary was alive. He’d have sued the pants off those cowards. Cary can’t defend himself from the grave but I will go to mine insisting he was every ounce a straight man.”