She Done Him Wrong (1933): How Mae West Cast Cary Grant (Before he Became Star)

In 1933, She Done Him Wrong—an adaptation of Mae West’s own play Diamond Lil (1928)—was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar category, but it lost to Cavalcade.

The young Cary Grant had caught Mae West’s eye in the studio, whereupon she had queried about him to one of Paramount’s office boys.

The boy replied, “Oh, that’s Cary Grant. He’s making Madame Butterfly with Sylvia Sidney.”

West then retorted, “I don’t care if he’s making Little Nell. If he can talk, I’ll take him.”

The film is ranked at 75 in AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Laughs list, while West’s line “Why don’t you come up sometime and see me?” was voted number 26 in AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Movie Quotes.

The New York Times called Born to Be Bad “hopelessly unintelligent hodgepodge”, while Variety labelled his performance “colorless” and “meaningless”.

In December 1934 Virginia Cherrill informed a jury in a Los Angeles court that Grant “drank excessively, choked and beat her, and threatened to kill her”. The press continued to report on the turbulent relationship which began to tarnish his image.

Though Grant’s films in the 1934–1935 period were commercial failures, he was still getting positive comments from the critics, who thought that his acting was getting better. One reviewer from Daily Variety wrote of Wings in the Dark: “Cary Grant tops all his past work. The part gave him a dimension to play with and he took it headlong. He never flaws in the moving, pathetic, but inspiring behavior of a man whose career seems ruined by an accident but comes back through a mental hell, by virtue of love and the saving ruses of friendship. His acting here lifts him definitely above his prior standing.”[107] Graham Greene of The Spectator thought that he played his role in The Last Outpost “extremely well”.

The pair would later on feature in Bringing Up Baby (1938), Holiday (1938) and The Philadelphia Story (1940).The film was actually shot at Lone Pine, California in one of the largest sets ever assembled, with over 1,500 extras.

His Girl Friday is ranked number 19 on American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Laughs and number 13 on The Guardian’s list of the greatest comedy films of all time, compiled in 2010. Time claim that Grant himself earned $100,000 for the film.

Critical response to the film at the time was mixed. Bosley Crowther wrote: “It is simply a concoction of crazy, fast, uninhibited farce. This sort of thing, when done well—as it generally is, in this case—can be insanely funny (if it hits right). It can also be a bore.”[207]

Grant also continued to find the experience of working with Hitchcock a positive one, remarking: “Hitch and I had a rapport and understanding deeper than words. He was a very agreeable human being, and we were very compatible … Nothing ever went wrong. He was so incredibly well prepared. I never know anyone as capable.”

Loren later professed about rejecting Grant: “At the time I didn’t have any regrets, I was in love with my husband. I was very affectionate with Cary, but I was 23 years old. I couldn’t make up my mind to marry a giant from another country and leave Carlo. I didn’t feel like making the big step.”

North by Northwest is placed at the 41st position on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies, on its 100 Years…100 Thrills list, and was voted the 7th greatest mystery film in its 10 Top 10 mystery films list.

Prince Rainier of Monaco said: “Grace loved and admired Cary. She valued his friendship.”

Grant was quoted as saying: “I may not have married for very sound reasons, but money was never one of them.”

Grant had a reputation for filing lawsuits against the film industry. The basis of these suits was that he had been cheated by the respective company. Most were described as frivolous and were settled out of court.

A proposal was made to present him with Honorary Award in 1969; it was vetoed by angry Academy members. The proposal garnered enough votes to pass in 1970. Bouron’s accusations were part of smear campaign organized in the film industry. In 1973, Bouron was found murdered in a San Fernando parking lot.

John Wayne, born in 1907 and thus only younger than Grant by 3 years, began as a stunt man and bit player in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Howard Hawks

Both Grant and Wayne had worked with maestro director Howard Hawks, who knew how to cast them in the proper vehicles (Grant in comedies, Wayne in Westerns) and get the best performances out of them.

Both Cary and Duke worked with Michael Curtiz

Both Bogey and Duke worked with John Huston (Wayne’s worst film)

In contrast, John Wayne continued to work many years after he had been diagnosed with cancer.  Wayne’s swan song, Don Siegel’s superb Western The Shootist, was released 3 years prior to his death, at age 72.

 

Roles Lost

He had expressed interest in playing William Holden’s character in The Bridge on the River Kwai at the time, but found it was not possible because of his commitment to The Pride and the Passion. The film was shot on location in Spain, with co-star Frank Sinatra irritating his colleagues and leaving the production after just a few weeks. Although Grant had an affair with Loren during filming, Grant’s attempts to woo hen to marry proved fruitless, which led expressing anger when Paramount cast her opposite him in Houseboat (1958) as part of her contract.

The sexual tension between the two was so great during the making of Houseboat that the producers found it almost impossible to make.

Golden Globe Nominations

Grant received his first of 5 Golden Globe Award Nominations for Best Actor, and finished the year as the most popular film star at the box office.

In 1959, Grant starred in Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, playing an advertising executive who becomes embroiled in a case of mistaken identity. Like Indiscreet, it was warmly received and was a major commercial success. It is now listed as one of the greatest films of all time. Weiler in The New York Times, remarked that the actor “was never more at home than in this role of the advertising-man-on-the-lam” and handled the role “with professional aplomb and grace”.

Fashion Icon: Gray Suit

Grant wore one of his most iconic suits, which became very popular, a fourteen-gauge, mid-gray, worsted wool one custom-made on Savile Row.

Grant finished the year playing a U.S. Navy Rear Admiral aboard a submarine opposite Tony Curtis in the comedy Operation Petticoat.

Variety saw Grant’s comic portrayal as a classic example of how to attract the laughter of the audience without lines, remarking that “In this film, most of the gags play off him. It is his reaction, blank, startled, etc., always underplayed, that creates or releases the humor.”

The film was major box office success, and in 1973, It is the highest earning film of Grant’s career at the US box office, with takings of $9.5 million.

In 1962, Grant starred in the romantic comedy That Touch of Mink, playing suave, wealthy businessman Philip Shayne romantically involved with office worker, played by Doris Day. He invites her to his apartment in Bermuda, but her guilty conscience begins to take hold. The picture was praised by critics, and it received 3 Oscar nominations, and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Comedy Picture, in addition to another Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor. It is the second highest grossing of Grant’s career.

Roles Rejected: James Bond?

Producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman originally sought Grant for the role of James Bond in Dr. No (1962) but discarded the idea as Grant would be committed to only one feature film;  the producers decided to go after someone who could be part of a franchise.

In 1963, Grant appeared in his last typically suave, romantic role opposite Audrey Hepburn in Charade. Grant found the experience of working with Hepburn “wonderful” and believed their close relationship was clear on camera, though according to Hepburn, he was particularly worried during the filming that he would be criticized for being far too old for her and seen as a “cradle snatcher”. Chris Barsanti writes: “It’s the film’s canny flirtatiousness that makes it such ingenious entertainment. Grant and Hepburn play off each other like the pros that they are”.

The film, well received by the critics, is often called “the best Hitchcock film Hitchcock never made.”

In 1964, Grant changed from his typically suave, distinguished screen persona to play grizzled beachcomber Walter Eckland who is hired by a Commander (Trevor Howard) to serve as  lookout on Matalava Island for invading Japanese planes in the World War II romantic comedy, Father Goose.

The film was a major commercial success, and upon its release at Radio City at Christmas 1964 it took over $210,000 at the box-office in the first week, breaking the record set by Charade the previous year.

Hitchcock had asked Grant to star in Torn Curtain that year only to learn that he had decided to retire. Instead, Paul Newman was cast.

Later Years

Grant’s final film, Walk, Don’t Run (1966), a comedy co-starring Jim Hutton and Samantha Eggar, was shot on location in Tokyo, and is set amid the backdrop of the housing shortage of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Grant retired from the screen at 62 when his daughter Jennifer Grant was born in order to focus on bringing her up and to provide a sense of permanence and stability in her life.

He had become disillusioned with cinema in the 1960s, rarely finding script that he approved of. He remarked: “I could have gone on acting and playing a grandfather or a bum, but I discovered more important things in life.”

He knew after he had made Charade that the “Golden Age” of Hollywood was over. He expressed little interest in making  career comeback, and would respond to the suggestion with “fat chance.” He did, however, briefly appear in the audience of the video documentary for Elvis’s 1970 Las Vegas concert Elvis: That’s the Way It Is. He was given the negatives from several of his films in the 1970s, and he sold them to TV for over two million dollars in 1975.

Grant’s abstinence from film after 1966 was not because he had “irrevocably turned his back on the film industry”, but because he was “caught between a decision made and the temptation to eat a bit of humble pie and re-announce himself to the cinema-going public”.

In the 1970s, MGM was keen on remaking Grand Hotel (1932) and hoped to lure Grant out of retirement.

Hitchcock had long wanted to make a film based on the idea of Hamlet, with Grant in the lead role. Grant stated that Warren Beatty had made a big effort to get him to play the role of Mr. Jordan in Heaven Can Wait (1978), which eventually went to James Mason.

Grant had also expressed interest in appearing in A Touch of Class (1973), The Verdict (1982), and a film adaptation of William Goldman’s 1983 book about screenwriting, Adventures in the Screen Trade.

Deaths of Close Friends

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Grant became troubled by the deaths of close friends, including Howard Hughes in 1976, Howard Hawks in 1977, Lord Mountbatten and Barbara Hutton in 1979, Hitchcock in 1980, Grace Kelly and Ingrid Bergman in 1982, and David Niven in 1983.

At the funeral of Mountbatten, he was quoted as remarking to a friend: “I’m absolutely pooped, and I’m so goddamned old…. I’m going to quit all next year. I’m going to lie in bed…. I shall just close all doors, turn off the telephone, and enjoy my life”.

Grace Kelly’s death was the hardest on him as it was unexpected, and the two had remained close friends after To Catch a Thief. Grant visited Monaco three or four times each year during his retirement, and showed his support for Kelly by joining the board of the Princess Grace Foundation.

In 1980, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art put on a two-month retrospective of more than 40 of Grant’s films.

In 1982, he was honored with the “Man of the Year” award by the New York Friars Club at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

He turned 80 in 1984, and Peter Bogdanovich noticed that a “serenity” had come over him.  Grant was in good health until suffering mild stroke in October that year.

In the last few years of his life, he undertook tours of the US in the one-man show A Conversation with Cary Grant, in which he would show clips from his films and answer audience questions. He made some 36 public appearances in his last four years, from New Jersey to Texas, and his audiences ranged from elderly film buffs to enthusiastic college students discovering his films for the first time.

Grant admitted the appearances were “ego-fodder,” and that “I know who I am inside and outside, but it’s nice to have the outside, at least, substantiated”.

Business interests

Grant was “one of the shrewdest businessmen ever to operate in Hollywood”. His long-term friendship with Howard Hughes from the 1930s onward saw him invited into the most glamorous circles in Hollywood and their lavish parties.

Hughes played a major role in the development of Grant’s business interests so that by 1939, he was “already an astute operator with various commercial interests”. Scott also played a role, encouraging Grant to invest his money in shares, making him a wealthy man by the end of the 1930s.

In the 1940s, Grant and Barbara Hutton invested heavily in real estate development in Acapulco at a time when it was little more than a fishing village, and teamed up with Richard Widmark, Roy Rogers, and Red Skelton to buy hotel there. Behind his business interests was intelligent mind. His friend David Niven once said: “Before computers went into general release, Cary had one in his brain”.

Image:

David Thomson believes that Grant’s intelligence came across on screen: “no one else looked so good and so intelligent at the same time.”

After Grant retired, he became more active in business. He was on the board of directors at Fabergé. This position was not honorary, as some had assumed; Grant regularly attended meetings and traveled internationally to support them. His pay was modest in comparison to the millions of his film career, a salary of a reported $15,000 a year.

Such was Grant’s influence on the company that George Barrie once claimed that Grant had played a role in the growth of the firm to annual revenues of about $50 million in 1968, a growth of nearly 80% since the inaugural year in 1964.

The position permitted the use of a private plane, which Grant could use to fly to see his daughter wherever her mother, Dyan Cannon, was working.

In 1975, Grant was an appointed director of MGM. In 1980, he sat on the board of MGM Films and MGM Grand Hotels following the division of the parent company. He played an active role in the promotion of MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas when opened in 1973, and he continued to promote the city throughout the 1970s. When Allan Warren met Grant for a photo shoot that year he noticed how tired Grant looked, and his “slightly melancholic air”.

Grant later joined the boards of Hollywood Park, the Academy of Magical Arts (The Magic Castle, Hollywood, California), and Western Airlines (acquired by Delta Air Lines in 1987).

Personal life

Grant became a naturalized US citizen on June 26, 1942, when he also legally changed his name to “Cary Grant.” attestedAt the time of his naturalization, he listed his middle name as “Alexander” rather than “Alec.”

One of the wealthiest stars, Grant owned houses in Beverly Hills, Malibu, and Palm Springs. He was immaculate in his personal grooming, and Edith Head, the renowned costume designer, attested to his “meticulous” attention to detail and considered him to have the greatest fashion sense of any actor she had worked with.

McCann attributed his “almost obsessive maintenance” with tanning, which deepened the older he got, to Douglas Fairbanks, who also had a major influence on his refined sense of dress. Because Grant came from working-class background and was not educated, he made particular effort over the course of his career to mix with high society and absorb their knowledge, manners and etiquette to compensate and cover it up.

His image was meticulously crafted from the early days in Hollywood, where he sunbathed and avoid being photographed smoking, despite smoking two packs a day at the time. Grant quit smoking in the early 1950s through hypnotherapy.

He remained health conscious, staying trim and athletic even into his late career, though Grant admitted he “never crooked a finger to keep fit.” He did “everything in moderation–except making love.”

Grant’s daughter Jennifer said her father made hundreds of friends from all walks of life, and that their house was visited by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Quincy Jones, Gregory Peck and his wife Veronique, Johnny Carson and his wife, Kirk Kerkorian and Merv Griffin. Grant and Sinatra were closes friends and that the two men had a similar radiance and “indefinable incandescence of charm”, and were eternally “high on life”.

While raising Jennifer, Grant archived artifacts of her childhood and adolescence in a bank-quality, room-sized vault he had installed in the house. Artifacts of his own childhood had been destroyed during the Luftwaffe’s bombing of Bristol in World War II (an event that also claimed the lives of his uncle, aunt, cousin, and the cousin’s husband and grandson), and he may have wanted to prevent her from experiencing a similar loss.

Drugs: LSD

Grant began experimenting with LSD in the late 1950s, before it became popular. His wife at the time, Betsy Drake, displayed keen interest in psychotherapy, and through Grant developed a considerable knowledge of psychoanalysis. Radiologist Mortimer Hartman began treating him with LSD in the late 1950s. Grant felt optimistic that the treatment could make him feel better about himself and rid of all of his inner turmoil stemming from his childhood and his failed relationships. He had an estimated 100 sessions over several years.

Grant viewed the drug positively, and stated that it was the solution after many years of “searching for his peace of mind”, and that for first time in his life he was “truly, deeply and honestly happy”. Dyan Cannon claimed during a court hearing that he was an “apostle of LSD”, and that he was still taking the drug in 1967 as part of a remedy to save their relationship. Grant later remarked that “taking LSD was an utterly foolish thing to do but I was self-opinionated boor, hiding all kinds of layers and defenses, hypocrisy and vanity. I had to get rid of them and wipe the slate clean.”

Relationships–Marriages

Grant was married five times. He wed Virginia Cherrill on February 9, 1934, at the Caxton Hall registry office in London. She divorced him on March 26, 1935, following charges of abuse. The two were involved in bitter divorce case which was widely reported in the press, with Cherrill demanding $1,000 a week from him in benefits from his Paramount earnings.

After the demise of the marriage, he dated actress Phyllis Brooks from 1937. They considered marriage and vacationed together in Europe in 1939, visiting the Roman villa of Dorothy di Frasso in Italy, but the relationship ended later that year.

He married Barbara Hutton in 1942, one of the world’s wealthiest women, following a $50 million inheritance from  grandfather Frank Winfield Woolworth. They were derisively nicknamed “Cash and Cary,” although Grant refused any financial settlement in prenuptial agreement to avoid the accusation that he married for money.[z] Towards the end of their marriage they lived in a white mansion at 10615 Bellagio Road in Bel Air.

They divorced in 1945, though they remained the “fondest of friends”.

He dated Betty Hensel for a period, then married Betsy Drake on December 25, 1949, the co-star of two of his films. This proved to be his longest marriage, ending on August 14, 1962.

Grant married Dyan Cannon on July 22, 1965, at Howard Hughes’ Desert Inn in Las Vegas, and their daughter Jennifer was born seven months later, on February 26, 1966. She was his only child, frequently called her his “best production”. He said of fatherhood: My life changed the day Jennifer was born. I’ve come to think that the reason we’re put on this earth is to procreate. To leave something behind. Not films, because you know that I don’t think my films will last very long once I’m gone. But another human being. That’s what’s important.

Grant and Cannon divorced in March 1968. On March 12, he was involved in car accident on Long Island when a truck hit the side of his limousine. Grant was hospitalized for 17 days with three broken ribs and bruising.

Grant had brief affair with actress Cynthia Bouron in the late 1960s.

Honorary Oscar: End of Boycott

He had been at odds with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 1958, but he was named as the recipient of  Honorary Oscar in 1970. Grant announced that he would attend the awards ceremony to accept his award, ending his 12-year boycott of the ceremony.

Two days after this announcement, Bouron filed a paternity suit against him and publicly stated that he was the father of her seven-week-old daughter, and she named him as the father on the child’s birth certificate. Grant challenged her to blood test and when she failed to provide one, the court ordered her to remove his name from the certificate.

Between 1973 and 1977, he dated British photojournalist Maureen Donaldson, followed by the much younger Victoria Morgan.

On April 11, 1981, Grant married Barbara Harris, a British hotel public relations agent who was 47 years his junior. The two had met in 1976 at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London where Harris was working at the time and Grant was attending a Fabergé conference. They became friends, but it was not until 1979 that she moved to live with him in California. Grant’s friends felt she had a positive impact on him. Prince Rainier of Monaco remarked that Grant had “never been happier” than he was in his last years with her.

Death?

“Of course I think of it. But I don’t want to dwell on it … I think the thing you think about when you’re my age is how you’re going to do it and whether you’ll behave well.” Grant on death, later in life.

Grant was at the Adler Theater in Davenport, Iowa, on the afternoon of November 29, 1986, preparing for his performance in A Conversation with Cary Grant when he was taken ill; he had been feeling unwell. Basil Williams photographed him there and thought that he still looked his usual suave self, but he noticed that he seemed very tired and that he stumbled once in the auditorium.

Williams recalls that Grant rehearsed for half an hour before “something seemed wrong” all of a sudden, and he disappeared backstage. Grant was taken back to Blackhawk Hotel where he and his wife had checked in. A doctor was called and discovered that Grant was having a massive stroke, with a blood pressure reading of 210 over 130. Grant refused to be taken to the hospital. The doctor recalled: “The stroke was getting worse. In only 15 minutes he deteriorated rapidly. It was terrible watching him die and not being able to help. But he wouldn’t let us.” By 8:45 p.m., Grant had slipped into a coma and was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital. He spent 45 minutes in emergency before being transferred to intensive care. He died at 11:22 p.m., aged 82.

An editorial in the New York Times stated: “Cary Grant was not supposed to die. … Cary Grant was supposed to stick around, our perpetual touchstone of charm and elegance and romance and youth.”

His body was taken back to California, where it was cremated and his ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean. No funeral was conducted for him following his request, which was appropriate for “the private man who didn’t want the nonsense of a funeral.” His estate was worth in the region of $60 to $80 million, the bulk of it went to Barbara Harris and Jennifer.

Screen Persona

One of the reasons Grant was so successful with his film career is that he was not conscious of how handsome he was on screen, acting in a fashion which was most unexpected and unusual from a Hollywood star of that period.

George Cukor once stated: “You see, he didn’t depend on his looks. He wasn’t a narcissist, he acted as though he were just an ordinary young man. And that made it all the more appealing, that a handsome young man was funny; that was especially unexpected and good because we think, ‘Well, if he’s Beau Brummel, he can’t be either funny or intelligent’, but he proved otherwise”.

Jennifer Grant acknowledged that her father neither relied on his looks nor was a character actor, and said that he was just the opposite of that, playing the “basic man”.

Grant’s appeal was unusually broad among both men and women. Pauline Kael remarked that men wanted to be him and women dreamed of dating him. She noticed that Grant treated his female co-stars differently than many of the leading men at the time, regarding them as subjects with multiple qualities rather than “treating them as sex objects”.

David Shipmant: “more than most stars, he belonged to the public”. Critics have argued that Grant had the rare star ability to turn a mediocre picture into a good one. Philip T. Hartung of The Commonweal stated in his review for Mr. Lucky (1943) that, if it “weren’t for Cary Grant’s persuasive personality, the whole thing would melt away to nothing at all”.

Political theorist C. L. R. James saw Grant as a “new and very important symbol”, a new type of Englishman who differed from Leslie Howard and Ronald Colman, who represented the “freedom, natural grace, simplicity and directness which characterize such different American types as Jimmy Stewart and Ronald Reagan”, which ultimately symbolized the growing relationship between Britain and America.

Acting style

Once he realized that each movement could be stylized for humor, the eyepopping, the cocked head, the forward lunge, and the slightly ungainly stride became as certain as the pen strokes of a master cartoonist–—Pauline Kael on the development of Grant’s comic acting in the late 1930s

McCann notes that Grant typically played “wealthy privileged characters who never seemed to have any need to work in order to maintain their glamorous and hedonistic lifestyle.” Martin Stirling thought that Grant had an acting range which was “greater than any of his contemporaries”, but felt that a number of critics underrated him as an actor. He believes that Grant was always at his “physical and verbal best in situations that bordered on farce”.

Charles Champlin identifies a paradox in Grant’s screen persona, in his unusual ability to “mix polish and pratfalls in successive scenes”.  Grant was “refreshingly able to play the near-fool, the fey idiot, without compromising his masculinity or surrendering to camp for its own sake.”

Wansell further notes that Grant could, “with the arch of an eyebrow or the merest hint of a smile, question his own image”.[356] Stanley Donen stated that his real “magic” came from his attention to minute details and always seeming real, which came from “enormous amounts of work” rather than being God-given.[357] Grant remarked of his career: “I guess to a certain extent I did eventually become the characters I was playing. I played at being someone I wanted to be until I became that person, or he became me”.[358] He professed that the real Cary Grant was more like his scruffy, unshaven fisherman in Father Goose than the “well-tailored charmer” of Charade.[359]

Grant often poked fun at himself: “Everyone wants to be Cary Grant—even I want to be Cary Grant.” In ad-lib lines such as in His Girl Friday: “Listen, the last man who said that to me was Archie Leach, just a week before he cut his throat.”

In Arsenic and Old Lace, a gravestone is seen bearing the name Archie Leach.

Hitchcock thought that Grant was very effective in darker roles, with a mysterious, dangerous quality, remarking that “there is a frightening side to Cary that no one can quite put their finger on”.[364] Wansell notes that this darker, mysterious side extended to his personal life, which he took great lengths to cover up in order to retain his debonair image.

Legacy

No other man seemed so classless and self-assured … at ease with the romantic as the comic … aged so well and with such fine style … in short, played the part so well: Cary Grant made men seem like a good idea–—Biographer Graham McCann

Biographers Morecambe and Stirling: Grant was the “greatest leading man Hollywood had ever known.”

Schickel: there are “very few stars who achieve the magnitude of Cary Grant, art of a very high and subtle order” and thought that he was the “best star actor there ever was in the movies”.

David Thomson and directors Stanley Donen and Howard Hawks: Grant was the greatest and most important actor in the history of the cinema. He was a favorite of Hitchcock, who admired him and called him “the only actor I ever loved in my whole life”, and remained one of Hollywood’s top box-office attractions for almost 30 years.

Pauline Kael stated that the world still thinks of him affectionately, because he “embodies what seems a happier time, a time when we had simpler relationship to a performer.”

Oscars

Grant was nominated for Oscar Awards for Penny Serenade (1941) and None But the Lonely Heart (1944), but he never won a competitive Oscar; he received a special Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1970. The inscription on his statuette read “To Cary Grant, for his unique mastery of the art of screen acting with respect and affection of his colleagues”.

On being presented with the award, his friend Frank Sinatra announced: “No one has brought more pleasure to more people for so many years than Cary has, and nobody has done so many things so well”.

Grant was awarded special plaque at the Straw Hat Awards in New York in May 1975 which recognized him as a “star and superstar in entertainment”.

In August 1975, Betty Ford invited him to give a speech at the Republican National Convention in Kansas City and to attend the Bicentennial dinner for Queen Elizabeth II at the White House.

He was invited to a royal charity gala in 1978 at the London Palladium.

In 1979, he hosted the American Film Institute’s tribute to Alfred Hitchcock, and presented Laurence Olivier with his honorary Oscar.

In 1981, Grant was accorded the Kennedy Center Honors.

Three years later, a theater on the MGM lot was renamed the “Cary Grant Theatre”.

In 1995, more than 100 leading directors were asked to reveal their favorite actor of all time in a Time Out poll, and Grant came second only to Marlon Brando.

On December 7, 2001, a statue of Grant by Graham Ibbeson was unveiled in Millennium Square, a regenerated area next to Bristol Harbor, Bristol, the city where he was born.

In November 2005, Grant again came first in Premiere magazine’s list of “The 50 Greatest Movie Stars of All Time”.

The biennial Cary Comes Home Festival was established in 2014 in his hometown Bristol.

McCann declared that Grant was “quite simply, the funniest actor cinema has ever produced”.

Filmography and stage work

Grant starred in 72 films.

In 1999, the American Film Institute named him the second greatest male star of Golden Age Hollywood cinema (after Humphrey Bogart).

He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor in Penny Serenade (1941) and None but the Lonely Heart (1944).

Legay:

Widely recognized for comedic and dramatic roles, among his best-known films are Bringing Up Baby (1938), Only Angels Have Wings (1939), His Girl Friday (1940), The Philadelphia Story (1940), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), North by Northwest (1959), and Charade (1963).

Notes

His middle name was recorded as “Alec” on birth records, although he later used the more formal “Alexander” on his naturalization application form in 1942.

Jewish: Circumcized

Among the reasons that he gave for believing so was that he was circumcised, and circumcision was rare outside the Jewish community in England at that time.

In 1948, he donated a large sum of money to help the newly established State of Israel, declaring that it was “in the name of his dead Jewish mother”.

He also speculated that his handsome appearance with brown curly hair could be due to his father’s partly Jewish descent. There is no genealogical evidence available about his possible Jewish ancestry, however.

Roles Turned Down

He turned down the lead role in Gentleman’s Agreement in the 1940s, playing a non-Jewish character who pretends to be Jewish, because he believed he could not effectively play the part. He donated considerable sums to Jewish causes over his lifetime.

In 1939, he gave Jewish actor Sam Jaffe $25,000.  John was a “sickly child” who frequently came down with a fever. He had developed gangrene on his arms after a door was slammed on his thumbnail while his mother was holding him. She stayed up night after night nursing him, but the doctor insisted that she get some rest—and he died the night that she stopped watching over him.

Grant hated mathematics and Latin and was more interested in geography, because he “wanted to travel”.

Accent: (To Move to Image)

Grant likely made further changes to his accent after electing to remain in the United States, in an effort to make himself more employable. The slight Cockney accent that Grant picked up during his time with the Pender troupe, blended with his efforts to sound American, resulted in his unique manner of speaking.

The play’s success prompted a screen test for Grant and MacDonald by Paramount Publix Pictures at Astoria Studios in New York, which resulted in MacDonald being cast opposite Maurice Chevalier in The Love Parade (1929). Grant was rejected, and informed that his neck was “too thick” and his legs were “too bowed”.

The New York Times called Born to Be Bad “hopelessly unintelligent hodgepodge”, while Variety labelled his performance “colorless” and “meaningless”.

In December 1934 Virginia Cherrill informed a jury in a Los Angeles court that Grant “drank excessively, choked and beat her, and threatened to kill her”. The press continued to report on the turbulent relationship which began to tarnish his image.

Though Grant’s films in the 1934–1935 period were commercial failures, he was still getting positive comments from the critics, who thought that his acting was getting better. One reviewer from Daily Variety wrote of Wings in the Dark: “Cary Grant tops all his past work. The part gave him a dimension to play with and he took it headlong. He never flaws in the moving, pathetic, but inspiring behavior of a man whose career seems ruined by an accident but comes back through a mental hell, by virtue of love and the saving ruses of friendship. His acting here lifts him definitely above his prior standing.”[107] Graham Greene of The Spectator thought that he played his role in The Last Outpost “extremely well”.

The pair would later on feature in Bringing Up Baby (1938), Holiday (1938) and The Philadelphia Story (1940).The film was actually shot at Lone Pine, California in one of the largest sets ever assembled, with over 1,500 extras.

His Girl Friday is ranked number 19 on American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Laughs and number 13 on The Guardian’s list of the greatest comedy films of all time, compiled in 2010. Time claim that Grant himself earned $100,000 for the film.

Critical response to the film at the time was mixed. Bosley Crowther wrote: “It is simply a concoction of crazy, fast, uninhibited farce. This sort of thing, when done well—as it generally is, in this case—can be insanely funny (if it hits right). It can also be a bore.”

Grant also continued to find the experience of working with Hitchcock a positive one, remarking: “Hitch and I had a rapport and understanding deeper than words. He was a very agreeable human being, and we were very compatible … Nothing ever went wrong. He was so incredibly well prepared. I never know anyone as capable.”

Loren later professed about rejecting Grant: “At the time I didn’t have any regrets, I was in love with my husband. I was very affectionate with Cary, but I was 23 years old. I couldn’t make up my mind to marry a giant from another country and leave Carlo. I didn’t feel like making the big step.”

North by Northwest is placed at the 41st position on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies, on its 100 Years…100 Thrills list, and was voted the 7th greatest mystery film in its 10 Top 10 mystery films list.

Prince Rainier of Monaco said: “Grace loved and admired Cary. She valued his friendship”.
Grant was quoted as saying: “I may not have married for very sound reasons, but money was never one of them.”

Grant had a reputation for filing lawsuits against the film industry. The basis of these suits was that he had been cheated by the respective company. Most were described as frivolous and were settled out of court.

A proposal was made to present him with Honorary Award in 1969; it was vetoed by angry Academy members. The proposal garnered enough votes to pass in 1970. Bouron’s accusations were part of smear campaign organized in the film industry. In 1973, Bouron was found murdered in a San Fernando parking lot.

Handsome Looks

Grant was quite outspoken on the discrimination that was held against handsome men and comedians in Hollywood. He questioned “are good looks their own reward, canceling out the right to more”? She recalls he once said of Robert Redford: “It’ll be tough for him to be awarded anything, he’s just too good looking.”

DUKE

John Wayne: Friendly Eroticism

In the middle phase of his career, John Wayne was cast against young and attractive stars, half his age, most notably Angie Dickinson (“Rio Bravo”), Capucine (“North to Alaska”), Elsa Martinelli (“Hatari!”), Donna Reed (“Trouble Along the Way”), and Martha Hyer (The Sons of Katie Elder”).

Wayne’s Stronger and Older Women

However, in the last decade of his career, Wayne was paired with stronger and older actresses, such as Patricia Neal (“In Harm’s Way”), Colleen Dewhurst (“The Cowboys,” “McQ”), Lauren Bacall (“The Shootist”), and Katharine Hepburn (“Rooster Cogburn”).

Wayne was much more powerful and convincing as an actor when playing against strong-willed and intelligent actresses.  His casting against mature women prompted the distinguished film critic Molly Haskell to observe: “How many other maturing male stars have allowed themselves to be paired with women who were roughly their contemporaries, instead of dropping back one generation, then another”

Haskell’s statement is not exactly accurate, for most of Wayne’s co-stars, with the exception of Katharine Hepburn, were at least a generation his juniors. But she is right about the appeal of these stars: none was the typical Hollywood glamour queen.

Wayne was more aware of his progressing age and declining looks than other actors, as he said in 1957: “My problem is I’m not a handsome man like Cary Grant, who will still be handsome at sixty five.” “I may be able to do a few more man-woman things before it’s too late, but then what?”  He was determined not to play “silly old man chasing young girls, as some of the stars are doing.”

For the most part, he did not. In only a few movies, Wayne looked ridiculous, courting much younger women, as, for example, in “Donovan’s Reef,” in which his romantic interest was Elizabeth Allen, a former fashion model half his age.  Wayne conceded that, “Ford never should have used me in that picture.” “He should have picked some young guy,” he explained, “It didn’t require much of him. All he had to be was a good-looking young guy, and I wasn’t young enough.”

Another movie, exceptional in the incredulous way it treats Wayne’s sex appeal was “McQ,” in which he is pursued by women half his age.  Pauline Kael, film critic for the New Yorker, found it absurd that “women are all hot for this sex pot,” and that Colleen Dewhurst, playing a lonely waitress, had to apologize for being fat and ugly before dragging him to bed.

But other critics thought that Wayne still possessed “a more extensive sexual range than younger, ostensibly hipper studs like Paul Newman and Robert Redford.”

Describing Wayne as “the last movie star to make respect sexy,” Newsweek’s Jack Kroll claimed that there was “plenty of eroticism in the Duke, but it’s a friendly eroticism that takes any woman on her own terms.”

Cary Grant?

Screen Image: nonmacho charming lead man, known for his handsome looks, transatlantic accent, debonair demeanor, light-hearted approach to acting, sense of comic timing.