A Welcome and a Definition

Culture Vulture: "A person with a strong, sometimes obsessive, interest in the arts." Culture Vultures spend a lot of time observing the world. This is where those observations come out.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Cary and Randolph
I have to admit I've been on a bit of a Cary Grant kick lately. It started when I watched My Favorite Wife on TV about a week ago. That led me to want to reread Marc Eliot's Cary Grant: A Biography and watch a few of his movies courtesy of Netflix.

Now I have loved Grant for several years. I have a picture of him hanging in my bedroom (the only celeb I ever had hanging on a wall in my life.) I think part of me has always wanted to absorb a bit of Grant into my personality. I think many gay men are drawn to Grant because he was the sexy, urbane wit onscreen many hope to be. Also, his romantic movies often reversed the usual sexual roles: he was often the object of desire and was pursued by the female lead. On top of that, gay rumors followed him for decades.

The biography paints a different person than the sexy onscreen persona. Abandoned at a young age by his mother, Grant is plagued by massive insecurities for most of his life. Preferring the company of men to women for at least the first half of his life, Grant seemed unable to make a relationship work with anyone. He was given to fits of loneliness and would often hole himself in his house for days after a serious break-up. Unlike his persona, he was a man of simply tastes. His favorite hobby was going to the horse races.

Ironically, the relationship Grant had that seemed to last the longest was not with one of his wives (he had 5), but with fellow actor Randolph Scott. Scott is mostly known as a B actor who did westerns in the 1950s. He also appeared with Grant in My Favorite Wife. I have always been fascinated by the relationship between Grant and Scott. The book portrays their relationship as multi-layered: more than friends, but not quite committed lovers, they obviously shared a deep connection to one another. Many people think too much was made of the Grant/Scott relationship, that they simply lived together as was customary to many movies stars. However, Grant and Scott lived together for a total of 11 years, and would often be photographed together at events. This happened so often, the studios became supplying them with female "escorts," young actresses to go on the town with them so it looked like a double date.

During his relationship and subsequent marriage to first wife Virginia Cherrill, there was almost a rivalry for Grant's affections between Cherrill and Scott. After Cherrill and Grant divorced, Grant moved back in with Scott and lived with him until just before his 2nd marriage to Barbara Hutton. Scott, meanwhile, had married Marion Somerville, who preferred life at her ranch in Virginia, allowing Scott to continue life in California with Grant. Scott and Grant had a falling out, on top of pressure by the studios about their unusual relationship, and "broke up" around 1940.

Some random facts about Cary Grant:

*Prior to becoming famous, Grant worked as stilt walker with a traveling stage troupe.
* In the 1930s, he had a dog named Archie Leach, his name prior to becoming a movie star.
* His 2nd wife Barbara Hutton was the heiress to the Woolworth fortune. The press dubbed them "Cash and Cary." Hutton was married a total of 7 times, and died penniless in 1979.
*His famous experimentation with LSD therapy was actually a way for him to deal with the emotional detachment issues he had his entire life.
*Grant never won an Oscar for any of his films. In 1970, he was finally honored by the academy with a Honorary Oscar for his body of work.
*There was a 47 year age difference between Grant and fifth wife, Barbara Harris.

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