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Variety - July 17, 1984

Cary Grant Wows Schenectady

by Jane Barton
(submitted by Barry Martin - Thanks Barry!)

Schenectady, NY, July 17
In one of only about nine conversational appearances onstage since he retired from films 20 years ago, and the first in a large theater rather than in an intimate setting with college students, Cary Grant charmed his audience at Proctor’s Theater, Schenectady recently, demonstrating the wit, dexterity and handsome good looks that have made him a box-office legend. Questions brought forth a manual on acting, a study of his leading ladies and his philosophies of life, youth, etc.

Grant’s sharp, fast, perceptive answers to questions from the audience belied his 80 years. The only concession to his age are pure white hair (which enhances his attractiveness), hoarseness in his voice and a slight stoop when he stands. He was spotlighted alone onstage, perched on a backless stool for 90 minutes. He entered following a 12-minute clip of at least 40 films (shown at an Academy Awards presentation) that demonstrate his versatility as an actor.

A real pro, he even supervised the placement of microphones in each aisle of the former movie palace’s orchestra and balcony. Wearing a tuxedo, he succeeded in achieving a warm intimacy in the large hall while maintaining a sophisticated celebrity aura. Top ticket was $25.

His responses to the many questions revealed his reactions to his leading ladies. About Mae West: “I don’t have a fond memory of Mae West; she did her own thing to the detriment of everyone around her. I don’t admire superficiality.”

About Grace Kelly: “The best I ever worked with … she made it look so easy … had a brilliant mind.

About Ronald Reagan: “As head of SAG … he was the best president we ever had. As California governor, he brought the state in at a profit.”

On acting: “I knew my business … You’re kidding yourself if you hide behind the characters you portray.” Grant prefers light comedies: “It’s simpler to make an audience cry than laugh.” He said he learned his timing from his early vaude experience as a straight man, having to adapt to varying audiences and theaters. He added he prefers the stage to film because relating to someone else is what acting is all about.”

Asked if he had juggled when in vaudeville, he responded, “Only a few morals.”

On myths: He never said “Judy, Judy, Judy;” he credits it to a Larry Storch impersonation.

Grant said he retired 20 years ago because the press prevented him from having privacy with his new daughter. He now prefers “different realities in life,” including private planes that permit movement without public attention, provided as a board member of major corporations.

It was a private plane provided by Proctor’s Theater that helped lure Grant to this city about 150 miles north of Gotham, where he was heading for the reopening of the Museum of Modern Art.

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