30-Days-of-Cary-Grant

30 Days of Cary Grant

DAY 19: According to George Barrie, “Cary told the funniest stories, with southern accents, ethnic accents–any kind of accent. Dirty ones, too. You’d never think those things would come out of him.”

And Gregory Peck says, “He was a great one for jokes, and they were sort of risqué. It was a curious side of his personality.”

Bea Shaw confesses that, “Cary and Prince Rainier would call one another and tell dirty jokes. Some of Cary’s jokes were really raunchy.”

- Nancy Nelson, Evenings with Cary Grant

30 Days of Cary Grant

DAY 28: Prince Albert of Monaco observes: “Cary was a subtle blend of elegance, sensitivity, poise, and charm, wrapped around a soul filled with wit, generosity and concern for others. It is not surprising for me to find the word ’care’ in his name.”

- Nancy Nelson, Evenings with Cary Grant

(An 80 year old bearded Cary Grant.)

30 Days of Cary Grant

DAY 17: Both Grant and Katharine Hepburn were meticulous about details. She recalls: “We wanted it to be as good as it could possibly be. Nothing was ever too much trouble. And we were both early on the set. Howard Hawks was always late, so Cary and I worked out an awful lot of stuff together. We’d make up things to do on the screen–how to work out those laughs in Bringing Up Baby. That was all Cary and me.”

- Nancy Nelson, Evenings with Cary Grant

30 Days of Cary Grant

DAY 18: Garson Kanin said, “Cary was not one of those movie stars who gets out there just because he’s handsome and has a flair for playing one key or another. He worked very hard. I remember that indelibly. Almost more than any other quality was his seriousness about his work. He was always prepared; he always knew his part, his lines, and the scene. And he related very well to the other players. He took not only his own part seriously, he took the whole picture seriously. He’d come and look at the rushes every evening. No matter how carefree and easygoing he seemed in the performance, in reality he was a serious man, an exceptionally concentrated man. And extremely intelligent, too. Still, he played far more on instinct than he did on intellect. I don’t recall him ever intellectually discussing a role or a scene or a picture or a part. He trusted his own instincts, which had worked for him so well. He just polished that up and used it.

- Nancy Nelson, Evenings with Cary Grant

30 Days of Cary Grant

DAY 14: I was on the set one day when Noel Coward, who was staying at my house, called and asked me to come home right away. He said that (Greta) Garbo was there having tea. She had a film she wanted to discuss making with me. I was very nervous about meeting her. I had idolized her for years. I got off at five and arrived just as she was leaving. In my nervousness, I thrust out my hand and heard myself saying, “Oh, I’m so happy you met me.”

- Cary Grant

30 Days of Cary Grant

DAY 6: While the young man’s smile became known to millions of people, one fact went practically unnoticed. At thirteen, he fell face forward on an icy playground changing his grin forever.

CG: My tooth snapped in half. Straight across. I didn’t want my father to know, so I had the remaining piece pulled out at a dental school, where extractions were either free or reasonable enough for me to pay out of my weekly pocket money. I was left with a gap right in the middle of my upper front teeth, but by keeping my mouth shut (quite an unusual accomplishment) at home that weekend, I kept father from noticing the gap, and by the next weekend it had already begun to close up.

The only person who ever remarked upon that tooth’s absence, including the dentists, was Mack Sennett, the great comedy-picture producer, who came backstage to visit me in New York years later, and surprised me by saying that his camera-trained eye noticed it from the audience.

- Nancy Nelson, Evenings with Cary Grant

30 Days of Cary Grant

DAY 30: In his later years, Cary Grant toured in a one man question and answer show “A Conversation with Cary Grant”. He closed his “conversation” with a piece called “A Meditation” from an unknown author:

Now, Lord, you`ve known me a long time. You know me better than I know myself. You know that each day I am growing older and someday may even be very old. So, meanwhile, please keep me from the habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from trying to straighten out everyone`s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody, helpful but not overbearing. I`ve a certain amount of knowledge to share; still, it would be very nice to have a few friends who, at the end, recognized and forgave the knowledge I lacked. Keep my tongue free from the recital of endless details. Seal my lips on my aches and pains; they increase daily and the need to speak of them becomes almost a compulsion. I ask for grace enough to listen to the retelling of others` afflictions and to be helped to endure them with patience. I would like to have improved memory, but I`ll settle for growing humility and an ability to capitulate when my memory clashes with the memory of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that on some occasions I may be mistaken. Keep me reasonably kind; I`ve never aspired to be a saint–saints must be rather difficult to live with–yet on the other hand, an embittered old person is a constant burden. Please give me the ability to see good in unlikely places and talents in unexpected people. And give me the grace to tell them so, dear Lord.

30 Days of Cary Grant

DAY 20: I was embarrassed doing it. I overplayed the character. It was a dreadful job for me, and yet the film was a very big success and a big money-maker, perhaps because of the reputation it had as a play. The fellow who played the role onstage in New York, Allyn Joslyn, was much better than I was. Jimmy Stewart would have been much better in the film. One of the reasons I did it was because they could get me in and out in three weeks, and I wanted to give my salary to various charities, including the British War Relief.

- Cary Grant, on his role as Mortimer Brewster in Arsenic and Old Lace

30 Days of Cary Grant

DAY 21: On June 26, 1942, Grant became an American citizen under naturalization certificate 5502057 and legally changed his name to Cary Grant.

The day after Grant received his citizenship documents, he signed enlistment papers, hoping to report to the Army’s officer candidate school, in Miami Beach, Florida. He was given a physical and was classified 2-A.

He measured six feet one and a half inches and weighed 180 pounds. He still wore a size seventeen and a half collar. He reported his childhood diseases as measles and mumps. The famous mole on his left cheek was listed as his most prominent characteristic.

The enlistment never took place.

- Nancy Nelson, Evenings with Cary Grant

30 Days of Cary Grant

DAY 22: (During World War II) Unable to go abroad, he toured camps in the United States. Jack Haley, Jr., found Grant’s war effort admirable. He says: “Cary would go to places you never heard of where there’d be forty GIs. He would sit and talk with them by their beds. He went on the victory caravans too, but he preferred a low-profile, unpublicized one-on-one with the guys.

- Nancy Nelson, Evenings with Cary Grant

30 Days of Cary Grant

DAY 10: I changed my name at the behest of the studio. They said Archie Leach had to go. John Monk Saunders, a friend and the author of Nikki, a play I’d done in New York, suggested I take the name of the character I played in the show: Cary Lockwood. Well, Cary was all right, but Lockwood wasn’t; there was already an actor named Harold Lockwood under contract to the studio.

What went with “Cary”?

It was an age of short names–Gable, Brent, Cooper…A secretary came with a list and put it in front of me. “Grant” jumped out at me, and that was that.

- Cary Grant

30 Days of Cary Grant

DAY 5: CG : My piano teacher, an unhandsome irascible woman, came to the house specifically, I think, to rap the knuckles of my left hand with a ruler. Curiously, although I was left-handed, my interpretation of bass notes was decidedly weak. If my bass hand were as strong as I suspect my base nature to be, I’d be a virtuoso.

- Nancy Nelson, Evenings with Cary Grant

30 Days of Cary Grant

DAY 24: Except for children, whose requests I try to fulfill whenever practical, the people I would like most to know are those least inclined to approach me. Instead I am often confronted by the aggressive type. Their tactless trespassing as I lift a fork to mouth is accompanied with remarks such as “My children will kill me if I don’t bring home your autograph” or “My wife won’t believe I saw you if I don’t get your signature.” Such opening gambits trouble me about the status of their family relationships. I get indigestion. I burp.

It has been written that I am rude to autograph seekers. That’s not true. I am rude only to rude autograph seekers.

Still, there are compensations, and the ceaseless daily bother is forgotten when occasionally some considerate person comes quietly alongside me to say “Mr. G., I just want to thank you on behalf of my family and myself for the many happy hours you’ve given us.” I want to embrace him or her before they slip from my view, leaving me aglow and breathing easily again.

- “Archie Leach” by Cary Grant

30 Days of Cary Grant

DAY 27: In an interview in May 1957, Grant was asked by a reporter to name his ideal female companions for a hypothetical dinner. His favorite dozens included Ingrid Bergman. He rounded out the list with his first, second, and current wives because “they are all fascinating women, or I wouldn’t have married them.” Others were Grace Kelly, Deborah Kerr, Suzy Parker, Irene Selznick, Bea Lillie, Janet Gaynor, Mrs. William Paley, and Fleur Cowles Meyer. He said, “The reason I like them is that all can be candid without being tactless about it. In this age of hypocrisy, these women can mentally afford to tell the truth….Some are especially beautiful but, more imprtant, all of them are interesting or amusing…very easy and delightful conversationalists.”

30 Days of Cary Grant

DAY 29: Stanley Donen said: “Two of the greatest performances ever given by an actor were Cary’s His Girl Friday and The Philadelphia Story. Cary is not really appreciated for the remarkable actor that he was. He’s thought of as a man who achieved a certain elegance and savoir faire. But in truth he was a fantastic actor. It’s not just the persona which he had developed over the years; it was his ability to act. He was absolutely the best in the world at his job.

Cary was unique. You see it and feel it in the reactions and characterization. There’s not a false movement. And it seems like it’s just happening, that he’s experiencing it at that moment. He projected ease and comfort, and he was always concentrated. You never saw any fear in him when he was acting. His scripts were full of little notes to himself. The minute detail of it all: That’s really what all art is about. The tiniest details: That’s what he was great at. He always seemed real. It wasn’t a gift from God. It was the magic that came from enormous amounts of work.

- Nancy Nelson, Evenings with Cary Grant

30 Days of Cary Grant

DAY 8: Jobs in vaudeville were scarce that summer and Grant spent his days close by the National Vaudeville Artists Club on West Forty-sixth Street, hoping for word of a job. While he waited, he survived by becoming the forerunner of today’s sidewalk salesman. He amused Leslie Caron with his tales of his early entrepreneurism. She recalls: “Cary would tell stories about himself–how he used to sell ties out of a suitcase in Broadway with one eye watching for the police. If he saw a cop, he would close the suitcase and run.”

- Nancy Nelson, Evenings with Cary Grant

30 Days of Cary Grant

DAY 7: Grant’s romance with baseball also started in the early 1920s, when he played his first game. In 1984, he fondly recalled his experience for his friend Jerry D. Lewis:

CG: It happened in New Orleans. I was still rather young for some of the city’s other pleasures. Our vaudeville troupe was playing the Del Mar circuit, and on one warm spring day we actors got up a baseball team and challenged the stagehands. I hadn’t even seen a baseball game…and there I was playing in one. I wasn’t afraid to try, though, because I’d played cricket back home in England and I knew how to handle a bat–left-handed. I led off the first inning, and I hit the first ball pitched to me. It looped over the shortstop’s head and landed in left field. I stood at home plate waiting for the next pitch while my teammates were yelling, “Run, run.” I turned and calmly guaranteed them I could hit a ball further than that. I couldn’t get them to understand that I wanted to wait and pick another pitch. A batsman in cricket is allowed to do that. That’s my first baseball memory.

-Nancy Nelson, Evenings with Cary Grant