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The Ultimate Cary Grant Pages - www.carygrant.net


Photoplay - February 1964

To the Sexiest Sixty-Year-Old in the World we say  
Happy Birthday Cary

by Jae Lyle


Cary Grant

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 stunned!

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 more."

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 eighty."

*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 growing old.

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 world."

What made this world-famous, handsome, wealthy man set out on a tortuous, painful exploration of his own subconscious?

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 the heart.

As an adult, loved kicked Cary in the heart three times, and each time love took the form of a beautiful, blue-eyed blonde.

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 herself.  

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 layer."

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 loved."

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, for help.

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 miracle."

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 lifting off.

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 beget some."

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 pretentious.

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, "I've matured."

Mighty precocious for a kid of five; mighty honest for the sexiest sixty-year-old man in the world.


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