A magazine writer once wired Cary Grant the
query: HOW OLD CARY GRANT? The actor wired back, OLD CARY GRANT
FINE. HOW YOU? The right answer is that on January 18 of this
year, Cary Grant will be sixty years young. One writer says of
him: "Although he makes no attempt to hide his true age, he
appears to be the embodiment of agelessness." Ed Sullivan
says of him: "Thirty-five years later, mind you, he is not
playing a character part. He is the love interest - more
attractive than he was thirty-five years ago, so help me!"
TIME says of him "… he never wears makeup and has gotten
steadily better looking." And to judge from the oohs and ahs
of girls and grandmothers alike, he's sexier than ever before.
He's the sexiest sixty-year-old in the world! When Cary Grant's
brown eyes crinkle at the corners and his mouth curves into a
dimpled grin, teenagers flip. One news magazine recorded what
happened when he showed up recently at Shaw Junior High School in
Washington: "While she peeked at the classroom visitor, the
typing student idly pecked - CARY GRANT CARYYYYYYYY. It was
squealsville. Suave and swellegant Cary Grant toured the building,
averaging a swoon a room."
When Cary's slim, immaculately dressed,
six-foot-one-inch body, with its 170-somke pounds gracefully
distributed, glides into a room, he makes old ladies feel young
again. His own steel gray hair reassures them that he's not immune
to time's passing; at the same time, is irrepressible charm and
style convinces them that just by snapping his fingers he can make
time stand still. And that's some trick.
A long love affair
The love affair between the movie-going public
and Cary Grant flamed up with his first film, "This is the
Night" (with Lili Damita), at the age of 28, and has gone on
unabated ever since. Movie stars adore him too.
Mae West, for instance, recalls how Cary came
to be co-starred with her in "She Done Him Wrong" back
in 1932. "I had just finished a play on Bradway, and every
studio in town wanted me. I chose Paramount. Yes, and I chose
Grant! I remember we were having a big conference on the studio
lot as to who would play opposite me. We couldn't come to a
decision. As I left the office, down the street I saw this
gorgeous, tall, dark and handsome man. I turned to the head of
Paramount, Colonel Emmanuel Cohen, and said, 'Boy, if he can talk,
I'll take him.' At that point I didn't even know his name. Cohen
told me, and then said, 'Don't you want to see his screen tests?'
I said, 'What for? I've seen him.'"
Doris Day, one of Cary's most famous co-stars
in recent years, reveals his magic effect upon her: "It isn't
just that Cary is so fine-looking, it's also that he actually
cares about you. He makes me feel very special."
Eva Marie Saint, who co-starred with Grant in
"North by Northwest," confessed, "It's a good thing
I am happily married."
When full-figured Julie Newmar arrived in
Hollywood about a year and a half ago, she was asked to list her
choices of the "ten sexist men in America."
Unhesitatingly, she named as her first pick "Cary
Grant." Then, shivering in the hot California sun, she added,
"If I ever meet him, I'l probably fall in a small heap."
Actress Nancy Kwan posed for publicity
pictures with Cary just once, then refused to do it again.
"Mr. Grant is too beautiful," she exclaimed. "Next
to him I look ugly."
Joanne Woodward was eating lunch in a studio
commissary shortly after she won the best actress Academy Award
for "All About Eve," when Cary was brought over and
introduced to her. As she looked up and heard him say, "I
want to congratulate you," her own lips moved but no words
came out. Only afterwards, when he'd gone, was she able to speak.
Then in awe, she said, "He's the movie star, the real movie
star - the only one who looks larger than life." She was
Grace Kelly, who starred with Cary in "To
Catch a Thief" in 1954, is today, as Princess Grace of
Monaco, still a close friend of the actor. In a letter to writer
Richard Gehman, Grace once wrote: "I can't think of enough
nice things to say about Mr. Grant." But Arlene Francis
could. She said, "They don't make men like Cary Grant any
He's got wham!
The wham of Cary Grant's sex appeal is
instantaneous and uncomplicated. It has to do with a combination
of striking good looks, unbelievable grace and boyish charm. But
the secret of his eternal youth (and Joan Crawford, speaking for
many, wishes he would pass it on to women) is a much more involved
matter. It is made even more complex by the fact that when he
reveals his secret (as he often does) no one takes him seriously;
but when he jokes about it or gives out false clues, people are
often convinced by what he says.
His jokes run something like this:
*CG reacting to Shelley Winters' comment about
how youthful he manages to look: "The fact is, I'm really
*CG as quoted in Walter Winchell's column:
"An actor my age is lucky enough to keep his hair and
teeth." Pure double-talk, this. He works at keeping
his hair, going to such extremes as giving himself haircuts.
Silly? Not when you hear Cary explain it. "I learned how to
cut my own hair on location trips," he says. "During the
ten weeks of shooting the picture, one's hair has to look exactly
the same day after day. Besides, on the new wide screens in
theaters like Radio City Music Hall, one inch of my head is larger
than an automobile. Did you ever think of that?" Frankly, we
never did. Nor did we realize before this that it's relatively
easy to have a perfect set of teeth if, like Cary, you don't have
to worry about dental pain at all. How does he accomplish this? He
works at it, too, using his own brand of autohypnosis.
"Since I can turn off pain in any part of my body, it isn't
difficult to cut off feeling in one whole side of my face,"
he says. "My dentist and I have a signal. When I snap the
fingers of my right hand, he starts drilling."
*CG responding to an interviewer's question:
"I don't know why people make such a fuss over age."
Don't you believe it. Cary knows that his own reign as the
spirit of eternal youth is made possible just because people hate
But what is Cary's secret of eternal youth? Of
diet he has said, "The subconscious, I believe, holds all
knowledge. If you really think thin, you'll get there. You won't
need a diet or medical plan. The subconscious will tell you what
to eat or pass up."
Mumbo-jumbo? Double-talk? Not on your life.
He's dead serious. Five years ago he discovered the way to probe
into his own subconscious (that area of the mind that is not
subject to rational control) when he underwent psychiatric
treatment with the aid of an experimental drug, lysergic acid
diethylamide, known as LSD-25. At the end of the first of what
were eventually to be sixty therapy sessions of five hours each,
he began to experience the process of "rebirth."
Before he subjected himself to LSD-25
treatments, Cary Grant was as mixed-up, anxious and threatened by
the world as you and I - perhaps even a little more so. During
that pre-therapy period he said, "Everyone tells me that I've
had such an interesting life, but sometimes I think it's been
nothing but stomach disturbances and self-concern."
Later he said, "For as much as three
months at a time, I would see no one. Now I realize that if you
are so totally wrapped up in yourself, you are not open to the
What made this world-famous, handsome, wealthy
man set out on a tortuous, painful exploration of his own
Initially, undoubtedly, was the feeling - they
say I possess everything; I know I have nothing, I am
nothing. I once possessed everything, back when I was
Archibald Alexander Leach, twelve years old, in Bristol,
England. Everything, of course, was love - mother's love and
father's love; but then suddenly mother was desperately ill and
was taken away for a while, and father just disappeared with
another woman, and I was left all alone. And the moral went
something like this: If you depend on love and if you give
love, you're stupid because love will turn around and kick you in
As an adult, loved kicked Cary in the heart
three times, and each time love took the form of a beautiful,
Cary's first love was Virginia Cherrill, who'd
played opposite Charlie Chaplin in "City Lights."
Cary married her in February, 1934, and they separated eight
months later. Three days after the announcement, according
to the newspapers, he attempted suicide with poison tablets.
Cary's own explanation for what
actually happened was less dramatic but equally
embarrassing. "I was drunk," he told
reporters. "I didn't take poison at all. I took
lots of drinks, and I was drinking whiskey. You know what
whiskey does when you drink it all by yourself. It makes you
very, very sad. I began calling people up; I know I called
Virginia. I don't know what I said to her, but things got
hazier and hazier. The next thing I knew, they were carting
me off to the hospital.
His broken marriages
Given this confession, it was
little wonder that at the divorce hearing Virginia charged that
her husband drank excessively. She further claimed that he
was only interested in himself and pored for hours,
narcissus-like, over his clipping-file.
Cary's second love was
five-and-ten-cent-store heiress Barbara Hutton, whom he married in
1942. They were divorced in 1945. When their marriage
broke up, Barbara is alleged to have said, "The thing Cary
liked best to do during our marriage was to lie on his stomach in
an upstairs room and work on his press clippings."
Cary's own subsequent evaluation
of what had gone wrong with marriage No. 2 was brutally
honest. "My hope was to get affection. I didn't
know I had to give it, too."
Cary's third love was Betsy
Drake, a cool, sleek, blond actress, whom he married in
1949. They stayed together more than a dozen years, although
the last four were spent in limbo, before they were
divorced. Yet, despite their final split-up, it was Betsy
who introduced him to hypnotism and encouraged him to turn to
LSD-25 induced psychotherapy by embarking first on this treatment
He had been smoking three packs
of cigarettes a day and was tormented by insomnia at night.
After Betsy hypnotized him, he gave up smoking completely and was
able to sleep like a baby. Subsequently, through hypnosis,
Betsy cured him of his desire for hard liquor and gave him
self-confidence in place of a severe inferiority complex.
Along the way, he discovered how to hypnotize himself.
Impressive as were these changes
in his character and behavior, they were, in Cary's opinion, mere
surface alterations. "I was an utter fake, a
self-opinionated boor, a know-all who knew very little," he
said once. "I was hiding behind all kinds of defenses,
hypocrisies and vanities. I had to get rid of them layer by
There was also the problem of his
withdrawals from the real world around him and his problem with
women. He said, "I know I hurt every woman I
He had hurt Virginia and Barbara
(and been hurt by them, of course), and now he was hurting Betsy
(and being hurt by her). In desperation he turned to LSD-25,
The results were immediate and
amazing. LSD acted on Cary's subconscious like lye in a
septic tank. He was plunged into a kind of "instant
analysis" by which memory blocks crumbled, and he was able to
recall the forgotten, scarring experiences of early childhood.
"Briefly," Grant said
later, "what LSD does is release the mind to a fantastic
degree. You have waking dreams, and sometimes weird and
wonderful hallucinations. More important, it cuts down
analysis to a short period. For anyone like me, who has a
deep-rooted desire for understanding and peace, it's almost like a
Right after his sixty therapeutic
sessions were over, Cary was ecstatic. "I've just been
born again," he announced. "I have just been
through a psychiatric experience that has completely changed
me. I was horrendous. I had to face things about
myself which I never admitted, which I didn't know were there . .
. That moment when your conscious meets your subconscious is a
helluva wrench. You feel the whole top of your head is
Truly happy at last
"With me there came a day
after weeks of treatment when I saw the light. Now for the
first time in my life I am truly happy.
"Every day now is
wonderful. I wish I could live another 400 years. I am
convinced I will live to a healthy old age, but if I drop dead
within the next ten years I will have enjoyed more living in the
latter part of my life than most people ever know.
"All the sadness and
vanities were torn away. I was pleased with the hard core of
the strength I found inside of me . . . I am no longer lonely and
I am a happy man."
Today, Cary still takes LSD-25
occasionally to sharpen his perceptions, induce hallucinations and
enable him to more easily recall past events.
"My attitude towards women
is completely different," he explains. "I do not
intend to foul up any more lives. I could be a good husband
now. I am aware of my faults and I am ready to accept
responsibilities and exchange tolerances.
"Marriage should be the apex
of mutual agreement; mine were not. Now I know that I hurt
every woman I loved and they tried to hurt me, too, but the faults
were mine, always mine."
The future? "I have
been married three times, but never had a child," Cary
says. "Now I am fit for children. I hope I will
How many kids? When writer
Lyn Tornabene brought up this subject, Cary said, "I'm going
to have children - dozens of them."
Impossible for a man of
sixty? Don't you believe it. After all, Cary insists
he was only born five years ago, at fifty-five, thanks to
LSD-25. So if anything he's precocious rather than
Everyone can't be expected to
drink at Cary Grant's special fountain of youth - after all,
expert hypnotism and professionally guided LSD-25 therapy aren't
available in the corner drug store. But anyone can share in
the lessons he learned from his experiences and copy his methods
for remaining youthful and sexually attractive.
These methods were best summed up
by the late Clifford Odets, Cary's good friend. In
accounting for the actor's eternal youthfulness and undiminished
attractiveness, Odets said, "Cary takes care of
himself. He no longer smokes, he's in bed before midnight
nearly seven nights out of seven, and no matter what's bothering
him, he can turn it off and sleep well."
The last world should be
Cary's. "Everyone wants to be fit," he says,
"so what do they do - they poison themselves with the wrong
foods, they poison their lungs with smoking, they clog their pores
with grease make-up, they drink poison liquids."
And then, to make sure that his
listeners don't get him wrong and geth the feeling he thinks he's
holier than they are he admits that he's not been completely
pure all of the sixty years of his life and says simply,
Mighty precocious for a kid of
five; mighty honest for the sexiest sixty-year-old man in the