If you are a man and had
the chance to visit Warner's Burbank Studios when "Arsenic
And Old Lace" was being produced you would no doubt have
been much more interested in how the picture was being shot, than
in the personality of the star.
On the other hand, if
you are a woman or a girl, it would be Cary Grant you would be
most interested in seeing.
I must confess that this
clash of interest as displayed by the opposite sexes is not from
That is what the guides
at the studio told me - and they ought to know.
In fact, he so impressed
the ladies by his gallantry of manner and courtly charm - two
attributes by the way which were Valention's great assets - that
they began to pester the officials unmercifully.
Hence a ban on visitors
for the rest of the production period.
None of this adulation,
however, affected Cary Grant. He carried on as usual, debonair,
charming, always letter-perfect and in his usual high spirits.
However, the women who
did manage to meet Cary Grant in the early stages of the
production were clearly pleased by his attention and all of them
came away with the impression that he was their favorite actor.
In fact, he flattered
them more than they did him.
In this picture he had
keen competition - Jack Carson, Priscilla Lane, Raymond Massey
and Peter Lorre are in the cast - and he worked exceptionally
hard to give of his best.
For several days he was
trussed to a chair while Raymond Massey and Peter Lorre made
preparations to murder him. Nothing about him could move except
for his eyes.
Frank Capra, who
directed and produced the film, was finally moved to remark,
"Looks as though we've got him where he'll behave at last."
To which the cameraman
remarked, "That's what you think. Cary can do more with his
eyes than most people, and if you look through the camera you'll
see he's pinching the scene."
Film fans have alot of
knowledge about starts. Most of his American visitors knew he was
born in England, ran away from home twice in his determination
become an actor, was taken to America as a youth of fifteen.
He worked as a comedian
at the New York Hippodrome and then returned to England, where,
in the course of the next two years, he learned to sing.
Many of the visitors to
"Arsenic and Old Lace" asked when he expected to sing
in a picture. He merely said he had no plans for singing on the
screen, although he is to portray the life story of Cole Porter,
the composer, in his next picture.
It was his singing
ability, however, which got him back to America and the American
For several years he
appeared on the New York stage in musical comedies. He sang
twelve operettas during one summer for the St. Louis repertory
dark and handsome" Grant seems to have all it takes to make
an idol on the screen. Women talk about him and when they talk to
him he has the ability to make every on of them think he has eyes
and ears for her alone.
Yet their menfolk don't
object for they recognize in his easy-going manner, friendly
attitude and ready wit that he is also a "man's man."
One incident during his
early career came to light in the making of the film.
Twenty years ago, when
he was earning what passed for a living as a boy acrobat, he was
stricken with rheumatic fever while appearing in a small town. He
was left behind when the vaudeville troupe moved to the next
Along came the new bill
and in it an act starring Jean Adair. Learning that a youthful
actor was sick she visited him.
With the passing of the
years Grant became a star. Miss Adair also caved out a
considerable niche for herself in the Broadway theatre. Recently
she was brought from the New York stage production of "Arsenic
and Old Lace" to play the same part as one of the zany
aunts. Almost at once she told Cary how pleased she was to be in
the same film with him.
"You don't remember
me, do you?" he asked her. She said she'd never met him
before and Grant then reminded her of the incident during his
Miss Adair said she
remembered taking fruit and flowers to the youthful acrobat, but
that she had completely forgotten his name in the meantime. Than
she added, "He was a very nice boy, I recall, and extremely
Cary Grant leaned over
and kissed the old lady. "He's still very grateful," he
A scan of the original
article (including the photo) can be found on