Paddy Carstairs Introduces You to Another Englishman in Hollywood
who is going to be One of To-morrow's Stars
He's bright, he's
breezy, and very happy-go-lucky! One gets the impression that it
is immaterial to him whether he is in pictures or merely sweeping
crossings. He'd be joking or laughing at the passers-by just as
he does at the Paramount studios, where they hold him on a very
His name is Cary Grant,
and he is English. If I say he is like Gable, he will be very
annoyed. So will Gable. So will the Gable fans, not to the
mention the Grant fans and everyone else! Nevertheless, he is of
the same type as Clark Gable - just another likeable rough guy of
As a matter of fact,
Cary takes this inevitable comparison with a great deal of
indifference. I asked him about it, and he replied that he
thought it probably annoyed Gable just as much as it did him.
They were two separate players with different kinds of characters
and types. I admit he is right, although I am wondering if he
would have got his chance if the Gable type was not all the rage,
as it is now.
He's very tall - about
six feet two - with bright brown eyes that glint and sparkle
while you talk to him. He has jet black hair and a dark skin.
When I first met him,
the studio officials wanted me to interview him in the special
Interview Room. We waited till they had introduced us, then both
When they had gone
suggested that we should walk around the studio, and talk as we
strolled. I have never seen so much relief on a man's face
before: the suggestion set Cary at ease. We started off and
wandered around the enormous Paramount studio, in and out of
sound stages. We watched a new production being filmed; chatted
to Randolph Scott, had coffee in the studio canteen, lazed on the
lawn and, for quite a while, examined odd junk that had
accumulated in the studio property room. Meantime Cary bubbled
on, chatting, wisecracking and having a very good time. This
Grant fellow is a lot of fun. As a matter of fact his life sounds
like a film scenario.
Cary was born in
Bristol, and his grandfather, Percival Leach was a very
well-known stage actor, which probably accounts for the great
liking for dramatics that developed in Cary at an early age. It
was also probably responsible for the interest Cary took in the
Princess Theatre, Bristol, where he invented a new and very
successful lighting system
This contact with stage
folk made Cary restless. At the age of twelve he ran away from
Fairfield Academy and joined the Bob Pender Acrobatic Troupe, a
bunch of entertainers who did all sorts of tricks, from dancing,
acrobatics and clown routines to comedy scenes and stilt dancing.
At Norwich, Cary spent two months learning all the tricks of the
troupe. But meantime his father had managed to find the truant
and carried him back to school. Three years later Cary ran away
again and managed to stay with the Pender troupe. They became
very well liked in England, and then decided to make a trip to
New York. Cary spent two years with the troupe traveling round
America, and then returned to England, where he toured in
indifferent stage shows. Meanwhile he started to develop a very
elegant baritone voice.
Soon he was back in New
York and was playing in Golden Dawn, a musical show. Next he had
the juvenile lead in Polly, the attractive sequel to the Beggar's
Opera. Following this came Boom Boom.
"Gosh! What a
thrill for me! I was opposite Jeanette MacDonald," said
Cary. "We played the show in New York and then Chicago.
Jeanette came out here to Hollywood to make The Love Parade
picture, and I dashed off to Europe for a grand holiday. When I
came back I had quite a run of stage successes, both in New York
and on tour. Then I made a fresh contract with film people when I
played alongside Fay Wray and Kent Douglas in Nikki. After this I
thought a visit to Hollywood would be quite an idea, and I made
the trip by car all the way from New York. I was over at
Paramount having lunch with a friend one day when some studio
executive or other asked me if I would play opposite a girl of
whom they wanted to make a test."
Cary grinned. "It
was all right with me," he said, "and they liked the
test of us both. Two weeks later they gave me a contract and here
I asked this young man
how he liked Hollywood.
"It's fine - so is
America - but I must lose my English accent if I want a lot of
different parts," he told me. "I've been trying, but so
far I have only a curious mixture of English and American
At that moment a flash
of yellow caught my eye. "Hey!" I asked, "what's
the idea of these vivid braces?"
Cary had the brightest
Canary-colored braces I have ever seen. They peeped out from
under his coat and almost smacked on in the eye!
Cary laughed, and then
told me he had opened a haberdashery shop on the famous and very
smart Wilshire Boulevard. "Swell clothes," he told me,
"come on in and buy a tie one day. All my stuff is from Bond
Street and Jermyn Street. It is a very exclusive shop, believe
me! We did marvelously the first two days we opened, having
forced our pals to come down and buy!" He went on chattering
about the shop, and the humors of it.
Eventually I called a
halt. "That will be enough from you. I'll lunch you here in
a few days' time!"
I wanted to see if this
vivaciousness just happened now and then or was it constant. I
kept a careful check on the Grant lad, and I can promise you it's
constant. With Cary, life is just a bowl of whatever you make it.
You will see him in many films from now on, notably Blonde Venus,
with Marlene Dietrich, and Hot Saturday, with Nancy Carroll. He
is one of to-morrow's stars.
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