Cary Grant: Debonair dad
"Do you think he understood his own magnetism, the effect that he had when he was on screen?" Braver asked.
"Oh, I think so," Bogdanovich said. "He honed his personality, you know? He took a little bit from every person he worked with until he found this persona that he created."
And Grant knew it was a persona. Bogdanovich remembers when he and girlfriend Cybil Shepherd went to an event with Grant. As they approached the ticket taker, 'He says, 'I'm terribly sorry, I forgot my ticket. May I get in please?' And she doesn't look up. She says, 'Name?' He goes 'Cary Grant.'
"Now she looks up, and she says, 'You don't look like Cary Grant.' And quick as a wink he goes, 'I know. Nobody does.'"
Cary Grant was Hollywood's favorite leading man, in "North by Northwest" with Eva Marie Saint ... "Notorious" with Ingrid Bergman ... and "The Philadelphia Story," one of four films he made with Katharine Hepburn.
Jennifer Grant writes in her book that she was a little jealous of all the people who got to be in movies with him:
"We were watching 'An Affair to Remember' in our friend's living room in the Hamptons," she recalled, "and the first time I saw him kiss on screen, I was really little ... and I jumped off the couch and I stormed over to the TV and I slapped her cheek!" she said.
"Yes, that was Deborah Kerr, but nobody was going to kiss my dad. I didn't even know this woman. Who was she, kissing my father?"
Jennifer says she was too young to understand the explosive headlines and ugly custody battle that came with her parents' divorce.
She WAS aware of recurring whispers that her father was gay or bisexual:
"It's sort of strange because I never felt anything like that from him, and I spent all my time with him, and I think that's the oddest thing."
When Grant wanted to propose to his fifth wife, Barbara Harris, he asked Jennifer's approval:
"He said, 'I'd like to marry Barbara; what do you think?'" Jennifer recalled. "So I was thrilled for him, and I think it freed me up in a way, because I'd always felt like the main person in dad's life. And suddenly there was someone else."
Despite pleas from Bogdanovich and others, Cary Grant never returned to making movies.
"He used to joke that he didn't want to watch himself grow old on the screen," Jennifer said. "And I also feel like, he was done."
Grant was nominated for 2 Academy Awards. He lost both times. But in 1970 he got a Lifetime Achievement Oscar.
And Jennifer was right behind her dad in 1981 when he got the Kennedy Center Honor:
"We went to the White House, which was lovely," she said. "And yeah, I remember the night well. He was very proud of that."
Just two days before Cary Grant's death in 1986, Jennifer had to return to college after Thanksgiving break:
"And so he walked me out and we hugged," she said.
"And that was the last time?"
"Yeah. But I do remember the hug. I do. He gave wonderful hugs."
For more info:
- "Good Stuff" by Jennifer Grant (Random House)
- Peter Bogdanovich's blog on movies
- Bogdanovich teaches filmmaking at University of North Carolina School of the Arts
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