In 1999, when John Kennedy Jr. is President of the United States and David Eisenhower wins the National Open, when the backside of the moon is selling for $500 an acre and the Ford V-80 runs on nuclear power, the leading actor in Hollywood will be Cary Grant. The man is permanent. Continents have disappeared, and great islands have exploded into the air, but Cary Grant may outlast Earth, Mercury, and the Sun itself.
He is, actually, 58. He has made 69 motion pictures, and the latest - That Touch of Mink - is currently breaking box office records at the Radio City Music Hall that were set three years ago by North by Northwest, starring Cary Grant. And all this has made him so rich that he could, if he chose, join NATO. His treasury grows by roughly have a million dollars a picture. The day is probably coming when he will be taking 90% of a picture's gross, generously giving the other 10% to his producers.
Darling Janizary. He also has virtually every nickel he has ever earned. He was once seen handing a few coins to his first wife and counting them first. Some time ago, when Manhattan's Hotel Plaza sent him 1 1/2 English muffins for breakfast, he called the head of room service and the manager and even threatened to call Owner Conrad Hilton, claiming that the menu said "muffins" and a measly 1 1/2 did not live up to the plural.
Lean, suave, incomparably tanned, he never wears makeup and has gotten steadily better looking. More or less successfully, he spends his real life pretending he is Cary Grant. Open Paris Match, for example, and there, in all likelihood, will be a picture of him in a sexy Italian car zooming east of Nice on La Moyenne Corniche - the same route he followed with Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief. He is the darling of the internationals - a janizary in Kelly's Monegasque toy palace, a captive treasure among the potentates and popinjays of the Onassis floating salon.
Being Cary Grant is such a gilded role, in fact, that all sorts of other people thing they are Cary Grant, too. The most notable of these is Tony Curtis, who caricatures Grant in everything he does. He dresses like Grant, but with tighter pants; his IRT-and-crumpets accent is an attempt to sound like
Grant and he imitates Grant on screen (Some Like It Hot). When Curtis bought a Rolls-Royce, he gutsily made sure he got a better one than Cary's.
Homeless Archie. Grant has many apes but few friends. In Hollywood - he has a mansion in Beverly Hills - he runs with no pack and is
rarely seen at parties or premieres. "I don't know anyone who has been to Grant's house in the last ten years," says Director Billy Wilder. Grant steadfastly insists that he has as much right to his privacy as a plumber or a municipal clerk. When people ask for his autograph he gives them an incredulous look as if they were trying to crash a party, and if some jolly clod says, "Put your John Hancock right here, Cary," he says, "My name is not John Hancock, and I have no intention of putting it anywhere." On one memorable occasion, a rebuffed fan snapped: "Who the hell do you think you are?" Grant, cool as the north wind, answered: "I know who I am. I haven't the vaguest idea who you are, and furthermore I don't care to know."
Cary Grant, of course, is Archibald Alexander Leach ("My name will give you an idea of what kid 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 3 1/2 years they have been intimately estranged, living apart, dating each other frequently, taking trips together. Once at a Broadway show, Cary 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
diethyl amide, 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 a 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 to 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?"
On a set, he drives directors and fellow actors round the bend wit his fussy attention to minutiae. "Five hundred small details add up to an impress," he says. He once went over
the scalps of innumerable extras to see if their hair had been properly dyed. Filming That Touch of Mink, he went shopping with Co-Star Doris Day and supervised her purchase of shoes, skirts and blouses to wear in the picture; back in Hollywood, he was so disturbed when he saw the paintings on the set wall that he held up production while he went home and returned with better ones from his private collection.
In his studio office, he keeps three tremendous photographs of his wives and numberless mementos of his long and lofty career. "The good old days are now," he grins amiably. A short time ago, a magazine editor wired him: HOW OLD CARY GRANT? And he wired back: OLD CARY GRANT FINE. HOW YOU?