Cary Grant was not supposed to die.
Sure, we all knew he was getting on - he had silver hair to
prove it - and that his last movie was 20 years behind him.
But die? Never. Cary Grant was supposed to stick
around, our perpetual touchstone of charm and elegance and
romance and youth.
He will always stick around, in a sense.
We can still see him con Rosalind Russell out of a husband and
Katharine Hepburn out of her considerable wits. We can see him
kiss Ingrid Bergman, and we can see Grace Kelly kiss him, and we can
see the look on his face when he finds out what his aunts have
hidden in the window seat. Be we can never see him again
without feeling a little pang, for now the substance behind that
extraordinary shadow is gone.
Ah, the images he leaves behind. He is
suave in white tie and tails and ludicrous in a negligee and the
very image of an absent-minded professor when he climbs a ladder to
tend his dinosaur. His double-takes are straight out of the
silents, his antics straight out of the music halls and his looks
straight out of the story books. He leaves a voice behind, too
... an accent, anyway. Like Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney,
his great contemporaries, he is easy to imitate and impossible to
He also was - is - easy to love. Yes, the
haircut is perfect and so is the suit and that cleft in the chin is
heaven's thumbmark. But they don't explain why three
generations of women had crushes on him. Apart from being
gorgeous, the adjective of many women's choice, he is also a friend.
Cary Grant's promise is of more than one glorious nigh; it's of a
lifetime of laughter.