Hollywood: Old Cary Grant Fine

  • Share
  • Read Later

(2 of 3)

Cary Grant, of course, is Archibald Alexander Leach ("My name will give you an idea what kind of family I came from"), son of a textile worker in provincial Britain. When Archie was twelve, his father deserted his mother, a tall and commanding woman who for a time went to pieces under the shock of rejection. Little Archie, essentially homeless, turned to show business and ran away to join a troupe of acrobats.

Unlocked Cages. Perhaps reacting to his dark-haired, dark-eyed mother, he has had three blonde, blue-eyed wives. The first was Virginia Cherrill, the flower girl in Charlie Chaplin's City Lights; the second was Five-and-Dime Heiress Barbara Hutton, and Cary will go down in history as one Hutton husband who did not ask for alimony; the third is Actress Betsy Drake, whose grandfather built Chicago's Drake and Blackstone hotels.

An accomplished hypnotist, Betsy Drake put Cary to sleep at various times and caused him to stop smoking and drinking. Together they explored Oriental religions, transcendentalism, mysticism and yoga. Grant claims that through her he learned how to put one side of his jaw to sleep when a dentist happened to be drilling there. For 3½ years they have been intimately estranged, living apart, dating each other frequently, taking trips together. Once at a Broadway show, Gary saw her come in with another man. "There's my wife," he said to his own companion. "Isn't she beautiful?"

Four years ago, Grant and his psychiatrist tried using LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide, a powerful drug with effects similar to mescaline) to help uproot Cary's deepest psychological problems. Often called instant analysis, LSD cleans out the subconscious like lye in a septic tank. Impressed with his own progress under its influence, Grant delivered a confessional lecture at U.C.L.A.: "I was a self-centered boor," he told an audience of fascinated students. "I was masochistic and only thought I was happy. When I woke up and said, 'There must be something wrong with me,' I grew up." In a subsequent interview he explained how he grew up: "Because I never understood myself, how could I have hoped to understand anyone else? That's why I say that now I can truly give a woman love for the first time in my life, because I can understand her." Betsy Drake filed for divorce last week.

Old Days Now. Professionally, he has always been on top. His specialty is light comedy, and in it he has no peers. Summing up Grant's talent, Director Michael Curtiz once said, "Some men squeeze a line to death, Cary tickles it into life." But good light comedy is still little more than exquisite froth, and Cary Grant has never won an Academy Award. "I don't quite understand all the fuss over this so-called realism," he complains. "Is a garbage can any more realistic than Buckingham Palace?"

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3