cary grant just wanted his own home -- 7/21/22

Today's encore selection -- from Conversations with Classic Film Stars by James Bawden and Ron Miller. In 1980, journalist James Bawden interviewed movie legend Cary Grant, whose real name was Archie Leach and who had started his career the hard way -- in vaudeville:

"BAWDEN: Seeing the way people behave around you, is it still fun being Cary Grant?

"GRANT: I don't like to disappoint people. Because he's a completely made-up character and I'm playing a part. It's a part I've been playing a long time, but no way am I really Cary Grant. A friend told me once, 'I always wanted to be Cary Grant.' And I said, 'So did I.' In my mind's eye, I'm just a vaudevillian named Archie Leach. When somebody yells 'Archie' on the street I'll look up. I don't look up if somebody calls 'Cary.' So I think Cary Grant has done wonders for my life and I always want to give him his due.

Grant with Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief (1955)

"BAWDEN: But you don't always dress like this?

"GRANT: At home it's jeans or slacks. Once, when my daughter was lit­tle, I had to go to the chemist's late at night for a prescription to be filled. It was a rush and I was wearing jeans and the woman cashier looked at me askance and said, 'Oh, Mr. Grant -- how could you?' I got her message. I'd disappointed her and I guess I apologized.

"BAWDEN: Do you remember your reply when Encyclopaedia Britan­nica telegraphed you for information?

"GRANT: The telegram read, 'How old Cary Grant?' And I telegraphed back, "Old Cary Grant fine. How you?" My last batch of movies, I was being reviewed for how old I looked instead of how good or bad the movie was. ...

"BAWDEN: You're as famous for the movies you didn't make as for the movies you made. ... You ... turned down My Fair Lady [1964].

"GRANT: It was Rex Harrison's part. He'd done it on Broadway. And I was sorely tempted. Jack Warner offered me $1 million plus a piece of the action. And the costars were to be Audrey Hepburn and Jimmy Cagney. When Jimmy refused to come out of retirement, I had my reason for not signing. I knew there would be a backlash, and Audrey felt it [because she took the part Julie Andrews had played opposite Harrison on Broadway.] I told Jack, 'Not only will I not do it, but if you don't use Rex I even won't go to see it.'

Grant with Audrey Hepburn in Charade (1963)

"BAWDEN: What was your life like in vaudeville?

"GRANT: As tough as anything. We'd work up to six performances a day and go on the all-night train to the next destination. Had to sleep in the coach car. Three or four of us would bunk in a single room. Meals were cans of beans heated on radiators. You'd wash clothes in the bathtub. I was a stilt walker. That was my specialty. But I also performed in comedy skits. When the troupe returned to England, I decided to stay [behind]. There was more promise of jobs in the U.S. and Canada.

"BAWDEN: It was a lonely life?

"GRANT: On the night trains, I'd look into the windows of the houses along the way and see people living ordinary lives. That was my goal. To live in my own home."



James Bawden and Ronald G. Miller


Conversations with Classic Film Stars: Interviews from Hollywood's Golden Era


University Press of Kentucky


Copyright 2016 by The University of Kentucky


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