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Motion Picture - June 1964

Love – That’s All Cary Grant Ever Thinks About

by Sheilah Graham

As a young man, Cary Grant’s face was handsome, sleek and selfish.  At 60, his face has been lived in.  It is full of love and compassion.  And he is 60 times as handsome.  And a thousand times more attractive.  How did it happen?  What is his secret?

I have known Cary for 28 years.  I have studied him at close range.  I have seen the development, the never-ceasing search to become a good human being.  But don’t get the idea that in the process he has become a sentimental softie.  When I lunched with him recently, he sounded off strongly against a certain columnist who, he says, prefers to print lies about him.  “She’s so full of envy, she can’t see straight,” he remarked.  And when we discussed the ever-increasing burglaries in Beverly Hills and elsewhere, he said, “I’m prepared.  I have a gun and I know how to shoot, and whoever comes calling without an invitation will get it in the rear end.”  No, there is nothing namby-pamby about Cary .  That explains why men like him just as much as the women of all ages who swoon for this remarkable man.

Of course we all know about LSD, and what Cary claims it did for him.  This strange drug is now legally prohibited, which Cary deplores.  “It’s a psychic energizer,” he has stated.  “It releases the subconscious.  It makes you see all your guilts, fears, repressions and insecurities.  It makes you free.”  But he admits that in the hands of unscrupulous doctors and quacks it could be dangerous.  In my opinion, Cary ’s complete adulthood today was not caused by his experiences with LSD.  It is the result of his continual desire to learn the truth about himself, to profit from this knowledge, and to share his understanding.

“Do not blame others for your own mistakes.”  This is one of Cary ’s most important rules.  I remember when I blamed “Mother Nature” for the fact that every bite I take puts weight on me.  Cary looked deeply into my eyes – and that I enjoyed and said, “Nonsense.  YOU are Mother Nature.  You have the power within you to be thin or fat, as you desire.”  And as I still looked skeptical, he went on, “God is within you, and you can do and have anything you want.  You must love yourself more.”  And then he added, “You can love your fellow man.”

Love – that is a word you hear often when you are around Cary Grant.

Another rule in the Grant philosophy for a happier way of life.  “Don’t go to extremes.  Don’t hate too much and don’t love too much.  Try to live somewhere in the middle.  Hate destroys the hater.  And if you love too much you get too involved and you cannot see too clearly.  Love and hate are like night and day.  They do exist together and you must accept them both, but you must also understand them and be in control of both emotions.  It is peaceful in the middle.  You won’t be hurt in the middle.”  Being in the middle of love and hate may sound passive.  This is not what Cary means.  He is a vital, energetic man.  He believes in loving one’s fellow man intelligently.  “It is the law of life that if you are kind to someone you feel happy.  If you are cruel you are unhappy.  And if you hurt someone, you will be hurt back.”

Cary ’s successful career is all part of his successful philosophy.  He is said to be the richest actor today in Hollywood , and his recent picture, Charade could bring him in more millions than the millions he has earned from such successful films as Operation Petticoat, That Touch of Mink, To Catch a Thief and North by Northwest.  He has at least ten million dollars in the bank.  And he will go on making money until Archangel Gabriel calls him above to enchant the residents up there.

“But anyone can do well,” insists Cary .  “It’s all out there waiting for you to take.  But first you must reach out and get it.  You must work for your riches.  You cannot expect it to fall into your lap.”

Then there is the question of values.  Not everyone wants to be a financial success.  Some are happier away from the rat race that we call the modern way of life.  “You must learn to live within yourself,” says Cary .  “You must establish the values by which you live.  You must first recognize the need, and if it is right you will be amazed at how things will open up.” 

A friend of Cary ’s was saying to him recently, “I wish I could stop smoking.”  “You can if you want to,” Cary replied, adding, “I did.”  Perhaps Cary had an unfair advantage.  He was hypnotized into giving up the week, by the third wife Betsy Drake.  She would sit by his bedside, and in a monotonous drone tell him that he did not really want to smoke, that it was bad for him.  He would fall asleep and Betsy would continue talking softly.  She not only cured Cary, but herself.  She was hypnotized by her own words.  Betsy also hypnotized Cary into sleeping well, by the same method of talking him to sleep.  We don’t all have a Betsy – but we all have will power.  And I wish mine was a bit stronger.  As for Cary , he eats anything he likes and has kept the same weight for the past 30 years.  And with only a minimum amount of exercise, too.  He swims a bit, and plays tennis a bit.  But that’s about all.  I guess he just “wills” himself to stay in such gorgeous shape. 

There is one area when Cary has been unsuccessful to date, and he is the first to admit it.  He has been married three times and divorced three times.  His first wife, Virginia Cherrill, was a leading lady for Charlie Chaplin.  She divorced Cary and married The Earl of Jersey.  Cary ’s second wife was one of the richest women in the world, Barbara Hutton.  They are still good friends and Cary has tried to help Barbara’s son, Lance Reventlow, through some of his problems.  Cary ’s marriage with Betsy Drake, was the longest lasting, and their divorce was the friendliest.  They eloped to Scottsdale , Arizona , in 1949, with Howard Hughes as best man.  They separated a few years ago, and the divorce took place recently.  They still dine together, and I doubt whether anything could break their deep friendship.  Except perhaps another marriage for Cary , which he seems to desire.  I believe that Betsy is still in love with the gray-haired 60-year-old charmer.  And I doubt whether she would want to be around for Wife Number 4.  And the fourth Mrs. Cary Grant could be young Dyan Cannon.  Cary sees a lot of Dyan.

The fact that Cary wants to marry again, is another sign of his tranquility.  At the break-up of his marriage to Betsy, he told me, “When I’m married I want to be single, and when I’m single I want to be married.”  If anyone breaks up the next marriage, it won’t be Cary .  This time he wants children.  He wants to pass on what he has learned with so much sweat and tears.  He was an only child and he doesn’t have many relatives.  His father died in 1933.  His mother who insists on living in her native Bristol , England , is 88.  He will have a lot of money to leave someone, or something.  He has lived carefully all his life, although he is more generous than some people give him credit for.  That is one subject that he does not talk about, but every once in a while I hear someone Cary has helped with money as well as with advice.  And unlike some of the stars, he never complains about paying his income tax and he wouldn’t dream of living in Switzerland in order to hang onto the millions he ears.  “If I make it,” says Cary , “I’m happy to pay it.”  He also gives U.S. Savings Bonds, to the tune of many hundred dollars each, to the crew and office workers at the conclusion of his pictures.

And make no mistake, they all love him on the set.  In recent years especially, no one has ever heard him raise his voice in anger.  Things go wrong sometimes.  Then Cary calls a conference in his dressing room. There is never any tension on a Cary Grant picture.  Maybe that’s why they are so good.  And he is one of the few stars who does not employ an agent.  Cary knows what is good for him.  He picks his pictures.  His lawyer and friend Stanley Fox draws up the contracts.  “I’d be lost without him,” says Cary who always gives credit where he feels it is merited. 

Of course Cary is not infallible.  He sometimes chooses wrongly.  The Grass is Greener was a grade-A flop.  And yet it must have seemed good at the time, with co-stars Deborah Kerr, Robert Mitchum and Jean Simmons.  “But I never dwell on past mistakes,” Cary told me.  “There is too much to plan for the future to waste time complaining.  Elsie Mendl was a great friend of mine for many, many years.  And I remember the creed by which she lived: Never complain, never explain.  Just think of the people you know who are always explaining their mistakes.  It merely rubs the whole thing in.  You’re reminded again of the mistake.  And no one believes the explanation anyway. 

And how did it all start – what Cary described in his life story for a woman’s magazine:  “The love and the hate and the power of God in me?”  I suspect he was always an intelligent man, even when he was walking on stilts in Coney Island , billed as Archie Leach.  And when he thought he had made the grade in Hollywood as Mae West’s leading man in She Done Him Wrong.  Mae did him right, says Cary .  It was the turning point in his Hollywood career.  He was noticed.  You had to look twice at this handsome, sleek young man, even if he didn’t look back at you.  In those early days, Cary shared a beach house with Randolph Scott.  I was invited to swim there soon after I arrived in 1936.  It was all so pleasant and gay, girls and boys dropping in, and Cary rushing in from the studio for a quick swim in the pool.  I remember all the jokes and the flirting.  But to get to know him well, that was something else.

“I used to hide behind the façade that was Cary Grant,” he admitted recently.  “I didn’t know if I were Archie Leach, or Cary Grant, and I wasn’t taking any chances.”  He has cured himself of his fear of heights.

”Another thing I had to cure myself of was the desire for adulation, and the approbation of my fellow man.  It started when I was a small boy and played football at school.  If I did well they cheered me.  If I fumbled I was booed.  It became very important to me to be liked.  It’s the same in the theater, the applause and the laughter give you courage and the excitement to go on.  I thought it was absolutely necessary in order to be happy.  Now I know how it can change, just like that.  They can be applauding you one moment, and booing you the next.  The thing to know is that you have done a good job, then it doesn’t hurt to be criticized.  My press agent was very indignant over something written about me not too long ago.  “Look,” I told him.  “I’ve known this character for many years, and the faults he sees in me are really the faults in himself that he hates.” 

Envy is the besetting sin of mankind, and this comes under Cary ’s “Don’t-do-it” list.  “It always amazes me,” he wrote in his brief autobiography, “that those who fight for the luxuries of life, are the first to resent those who have them.  Also, people seek targets for whatever hurts them, especially their own lack of success.  Personally, I regard every knock as a boost.”

Well, there aren’t too many knocks for Cary these days.  And I can’t remember too many at any time. It seems to me that the whole world is his friend.  And he is a friend to everyone – when they need one.  As Ingrid Bergman did at the time of her out-of-wedlock baby with Rossellini.  Cary spoke out for her as he would speak out for anyone he admired, whether it was Ingrid, the President of the United States , or a scrubwoman.  He is a potent force for good – for Hollywood , and for all of us. I am always delighted to see Cary Grant, and count myself lucky to be one of his friends. 

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