I feel as though it is cliché to complain about celebrities today as compared with the great stars of decades past, but that is what I am going to. Specifically, I am going to discuss why no one will ever be as awesome as Cary Grant. (I just watched The Philadelphia Story for the umteenth time and it really does not get much better). They just don’t come like him anymore (with the possible exception of Jon Hamm).
For those of you who live in some underground hovel and have never heard of Cary Grant, you stink, and I’m hardcore judging you right now. Basically Cary Grant is one of the most famous actors of all time as well as one of the best. Born in Bristol, England in 1904 as Archibald Leach, Grant starred in such films as His Girl Friday, North by Northwest and Bringing Up Baby over the course of his long career. He was twice nominated for Oscars, five times for Golden Globes and in 1970 he was awarded with an honorary Oscar. The following are the five reasons why I totally have a crush on Cary Grant (even though he’s been dead for 30 years) and why everyone else should too.
1. That face. Cary Grant is the definition of handsome. He was not pretty or hot; he was a square-jawed prince charming with piercing eyes and a smile that could melt even the most hardened of hearts. He was always extremely well dressed, with a dapper style and never capable of an ugly moment. It is impossible to even picture a slovenly Cary Grant, or a bearded one.
2. That voice. When I watch The Philadelphia Story (which, as a side-note, is possibly my favorite movie of all time), I like to close my eyes and pretend that when Cary Grant calls Katherine Hepburn “Red,” he is talking to me (I am fully aware of how dorky I am, by the way). Though he trained himself to speak in an American accent, Grant retained something of his English roots, which makes listening to him like listening to a cello on a breezy summer day. He’s got the kind of voice you expect to be saying words like “veranda” and “indubitably.” When I narrate my life in my head — which I do from time to time — it is in Cary Grant’s silky voice. I imagine his smooth speech saying, “And then she sat alone in her room and ate Japanese food while watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Little did she know, that this action would result in a less-than-excellent grade on the paper she had yet to write.” Imagining C.K. Dexter Haven saying these words makes the action seem slightly less pathetic.
3. Funny. Despite his rugged charm and quiet dignity, Grant was surprisingly good at mocking himself. While his most critically acclaimed films were dramas, he possessed real comedic talent. In Bringing Up Baby, in which he plays a nerdy paleontologist, he is downright silly. Grant even makes a joke about the ridiculousness of his real name in Arsenic and Old Lace. Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger often asks her clients to make a list of nonnegotiables for their potential mates, which of course prompted me to think of my own nonnegotiables, and right up there with “good cook” and “not homeless” is “funny”.
4. Liked strong women. Though Cary Grant is quite capable of carrying an entire film himself, his most memorable roles were ones in which he played opposite women like Katherine Hepburn, Myrna Loy and Rosalind Russel. His characters wanted an equal — someone with whom they could share a witty repartee. They were confident, independent and stubborn, qualities Grant’s characters admire. He liked that Tracy Lord thought of herself as a goddess and enjoyed getting in fights with her. These are women who could hold their own and they fell for Grant because he was worthy of their precious attention. These are women who I aspire to be like (mostly Katherine Hepburn), and the fact that Cary Grant comes with that territory is a bonus. In real life, Grant’s personal life was bit messier (he was married five times), but I prefer to not live in real life.
5. Good guy. Though he often played characters who were bossy or too proud, Grant always made it seem as though they were ultimately good guys. He communicated this through the twinkle in his eye that said to Tracy Lord or Hildy Johnson, “No matter how obnoxiously I am acting, you know you can always count on me,” or something along those lines. The fact of the matter is that movies exist so that we can escape into another reality, and so it’s kind of irrelevant to me that I have a crush on a man who died in 1986 at the age of 82, because it’s not like I have any more a chance of being with a celebrity who is alive and more age appropriate. I’m pretty much just as likely to end up with Cary Grant as I am to end up with Paul Rudd, so I might as well continue to fantasize about the perfection that was, is and will always be, Cary Grant.