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Dallas Morning News - 3/24/1986

Elegance Still Suits Cary Grant

by Philip Wuntch
(submitted by Barry Martin - Thanks Barry!)

Sellout audience peppers superstar with questions

Yes, he’s as suave as you’ve always imagined. Maybe even more so.
Cary Grant – looking as if he had stepped from the pages of Gentleman’s Quarterly in a finely tailored pinstripe suit, white shirt, tasteful tie, silk socks and Italian leather slippers – appeared before a sellout audience Sunday afternoon.

The audience came to McFarlin Auditorium on the Southern Methodist University campus clearly expecting to be charmed. And charmed they were – for one hour and 45 minutes of questions and answers with a bona fide superstar. The event, titled A Conversation With Cary Grant, was presented by the International Theatrical Arts Society.

Some of the questions were predictable – and some of the answers were dispatched with a raised eyebrow or the classic Grant double take. And even if a few of Grant’s responses were mildly meandering, it didn’t matter at all. Even Grant’s meanderings come off smoothly.

He spoke fondly of almost all his co-stars. “Kate Hepburn – a remarkable woman,” he said of his four-time co-star. “She’s utterly trusting if she knows that you know what you’re doing. I grew to love her. I still do.”

He allowed, however, that “Irene Dunne was never utterly comfortable (in front of the camera). There was a fear there, a shyness, that made it difficult for her to relax. And working with Mae West was terrible. No, not terrible, just disconcerting. She certainly did not discover me. (A Hollywood legend persists that West discovered Grant.) She always got a great deal of publicity for herself. She lived in a world of artifice. I really never could communicate with her. Mae does what Mae wants to do, and you must suffer the consequences.”

He said that early in his career he tried to emulate Noel Coward and Jack Buchanan. “And George Burns, most particularly. He had impeccable timing. His timing is what made Gracie Allen a hit. He was the straight man. The straight man times the jokes.”

He also expressed his admiration for Mickey Rooney, and said he considered Spencer Tracy “the best of all actors. . . incredibly relaxed, but with a mind that always worked.”

Relatively few of the questions touched on controversy. He was asked his opinion of Haunted Idol, an unflattering Grant biography published last year.

“It was utter nonsense. Most biographies are. Don’t read biographies. Don’t even read autobiographies. I don’t know anyone who tells the truth about themselves. The books I read about Hitchcock were sheer nonsense. Anyone who’s worked with him knows how fine he is to works with. And all those actresses who write books about themselves do so only for the money. But I don’t really care anymore. I’ve developed skin like a rhino’s.”

When queried, he discussed his LSD experiments. “All of it was under a doctor’s care. It was an idea of a former wife who studied psychology at UCLA and in fact became a psychologist. (He was referring to his third wife Betsy Drake.) I took it because I hoped it would make me happy. It was of help. It cleared away my hypocrisies and some of my misconceptions from what my parents didn’t know. You go through a lot of things in your youth – misteachings and absolute accepting of adult teachings. It’s difficult when you realize that frequently the adults who guided you may not have known what they were talking about.”

But mostly the afternoon was in a lighter vein. A woman reminisced about how she laughed so hard watching him dance a jig on Indiscreet that she went into labor early. A younger woman wished she “had been born earlier so I could have had the chance to dig my claws into you.” (Here, the Grant double take.)

And a young girl said she was from her school newspapers and asked if he would say “Judy, Judy, Judy” just one time so she could report he had said it.

“Why, is your name Judy?” he asked.

“No, but I’ll change it if you want me to.”

“What is your real name?”


“Well, I won’t say ‘Judy, Judy, Judy.’ But I’ll say, ‘Dina, Dina, Dina.’”

That seemed to satisfy her. And everyone else.

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