Friday, July 19

Randy and Cary

I think they are one of Hollywood's great love stories.  Yes, Cary Grant and Randolph Scott.  You don't?  Why?  Because you don't believe they were lovers at all, they were not like that?   Or you know they were acting like bachelors but don't think it was a great love story?  Well, thank God we don't all feel the same about things, eh?  How dull would that be? 

They were rather open about their living arrangement in the 1930s and if either one had come out and admitted their love affair, they  would have sabotaged their careers.  They had photographers in to their home for a spread that would be widely seen and still there were those who failed or refused to see what was happening.  To this day I run into straight women who especially do not buy it about Grant and yet he is the most obvious of the two.  He is also the only one who kept denying it for decades, really until the end of his life.

Most of Hollywood knew the truth and gay men have known about them for years.  Yet each of them had children who would write bios on their dads and take the time to deny the homosexuality.  Were they trying to pull one over on us?  Like good press agents, were they attempting to give us an antiseptic look of their dads?  Or is it possible they really didn't know?  That seems far-fetched and yet how many married gay men do you know who go home and discuss their lovers with their wives and children?  Let's face it, the family is often the last to know.

 Let's meet these two in a more intimate setting.  I could talk til the cows come home (and I may) but we'll let the pictures tell their own stories.

Their beginnings could not have been more different.  Grant, an only child, grew up in poverty in England.  His mother, who suffered from clinical depression, was put in an asylum but Grant was led to believe she was dead.  He didn't learn the truth until he was in his early 30s.  When Grant was 10, his father abandoned him and the boy was raised in a series of homes and schools.

At 16 he joined an acrobatic act (skills he would keep his entire life) and when the act played New York, he stayed on and joined a vaudeville act.  He appeared in a number of shows across the country, developing a great love of performing.  He would grow up to be a closed person emotionally, a trait a great many actors have had over the years.  It would be through acting, through taking on the persona of characters, that he would feel the safest.  It was only natural that he would end up in Hollywood and with a contract at Paramount Studios.

Randolph Scott was born into a wealthy family in Virginia but was raised in Charlotte, NC (and is buried there).  He was the second of six children.  He was always a bit of a jock, seemed to possess great self-esteem and had an outdoorsy handsomeness.  After a stint in WWI, he set out for a football career but was permanently sidelined with a back injury.  So what does a good-looking, rich boy with no discernible skills then do?  Why not try Hollywood?

Luckily his rich father was acquainted with young Howard Hughes who was also trying out for a Hollywood career although not in front of the camera.  An introduction was arranged and soon Randolph Scott would end up with a contract at Paramount as well.

Before their respective marriages, neither Scott nor Grant ever had much going on in the girlfriend department.  Hughes was already considered a bit of a Hollywood stud but most of that was bs.  His relationships with most of the famous actresses we associate him with were platonic.  Hughes was much more interested in men and it's certainly likely that he and Scott formed a romantic relationship.  It was Scott who introduced Grant to Hughes and they had a friendship that would last until the end of their lives.

Scott and Grant met in 1930 on the set of Hot Saturday.  By all accounts it was love at first sight and they were very soon living together.  They would tell people it was because they were pinching pennies but most of Hollywood knew that's not all they were pinching.  If there were any serious doubters, most came around by the early forties when the two were still living together and had lived in at least three homes with one another.  For years they lived at 2177 West Live Oak Drive in the Los Feliz area, right across from Griffith Park.  (Wasn't that handy?)

It seems astonishing to me that they would invite those photographers out to their home for photos which showed them doing dishes together, posing with golf clubs, paying bills, etc.  And keep in mind this was the 1930s.  Grant would refer to Scott as his spouse.  In a 1940 census, Scott was listed as head of household and Grant was listed as his partner.  You don't say?

They would double date at premiers or sporting events and would often go alone.  There are photographs of them tucked in a booth dining with the boys.  It was often reported that they were conveniently dating two neighbors, two glamour girls who also lived together.  It was later said that the ladies liked one another as much as the boys liked each other.  But Hollywood knew how to spin the tales.  It should be noted that the 12 or so years Scott and Grant lived together did have some interruptions, but not many. The strangest of those separations was for a couple of odd marriages.

I've never read that Grant and Scott had any serious quarrels, at least not serious enough to break up their relationship, but in 1934 Grant married actress Virginia Cherill whom he didn't know all that well.  Their union would only last a scant seven months.  Their physical battles were for public discourse and after their divorce, she would tell people that he was homosexual (as would his next wife heiress Barbara Hutton).  Why did he suddenly marry?  He didn't know her very well and apparently he continued to live with Scott during a few of those seven months.  Let's consider camouflage.  It was time to do some damage control.

While the boys had been conducting their relationship rather brazenly and most of Hollywood knew, the public was clueless as usual.  From the 1930s through the 1950s the public was fed so much crap, mostly from movie magazines, and they usually bought it all.  When they occasionally caught on, when some unusual article would come out, when doubt was visiting, it was time for damage control and let's face it, there's nothing like a marriage.  It doesn't even need to last long.  Throw 'em off (the public) and throw 'em out (the wife).

Grant would remain in residence with Scott for seven more years, until he married for the second time.  Things had settled down about them for a spell and then started up again, especially at Paramount, because in 1936 Scott also married.  It would last only marginally longer (three years on paper) but the truth is he never lived with her. 

He went to Virginia on a vacation and renewed an acquaintance with rich and snobby Marion DuPont (yes, those DuPonts).  If you're marrying for cover, what's wrong with wealthy cover?  At least there's enough bread to go places, do things, stay busy.  It must have all been pretty cozy because there are photographs with DuPont at the boys' home.

If the marriages put people off their scent, the divorces soon afterward again brought out the hounds.  The boys were scheduled to co-star together again in 1938 in Spawn of the North but the chatter had become so deafening that Paramount reneged and hired George Raft and Henry Fonda instead.

It wasn't long before neither Scott nor Grant was working at Paramount.  Neither was fired, per se, but contracts were either not renewed or it simply became obvious that it was time to move on.  It should be said that they both had become big stars before they left Paramount and each would rise higher and higher afterwards.  Right after leaving Paramount, both men heard that other studio heads would not employ them unless they stopped living together.  Still it continued. 

In 1940 Irene Dunne was scheduled to make My Favorite Wife at RKO.  She had worked with both of the boys before.  Cary then became attached to the project as Dunne's husband.  It is a witty comedy about Grant's character, who, on the day of his second marriage, discovers that his first wife, who has been missing for several years and presumed dead, is not only alive but has arrived back home.  It seems she has spent the entire time on a desert island with another man.  With Dunne's backing, Grant raised some hell to get Scott the role of the other man.  Hollywood snickered at the inside joke and the public flocked to the film.  But the natives were getting restless and there were those who thought it audacious of these two to appear together in the same film, bringing us in to their private joke.

By 1942, times had changed and each man decided to get on with life and give up their living arrangements.  They would never, however, give up their relationship.  In that year Grant would marry mega-wealthy Barbara Hutton, a marriage that would only last two years.  The press called them Cash and Cary and no one outside of Nebraska really bought it.

While Grant would marry three more times (the longest and probably most successfully to actress Betsy Drake). Scott would remarry in 1944 to Patricia Stillman and would remain married to her for the rest of his life.

In the 1940s, Grant would have an incident involving a public restroom which he managed to have quashed to some degree.  It was said another actor took the fall.  For years there were always rumors about Grant's sexuality... usually referring to him as bisexual.  I think it's more a case of him being a gay man who (serially) married women.  In those days, if he, even Cary Grant, wanted a career, there had better be a woman on his arm.

Grant spent the rest of his life denying his gayness.  As late as 1980 he was still at it.  I have nothing against gays.  I'm just not one myself.  And the following year he was asked if he planned on writing his autobiography.  Of all the replies he could have given, he elected to say I will leave that to others.  (Does a blog count?)  I'm sure they will turn me into a homosexual or a Nazi spy or something else.

Frankly, Grant was anything but what he appeared to be.  Always self-doubting, self-loathing and suffering with bouts of depression as his mother did, Grant could be cold, cruel and dismissive.  He was not like the smooth, suave, debonair, self-assured man we saw on the screen.  He may have starred with many of the screen's goddesses, but I always found it interesting how few truly romantic scenes he had.  He really was an illusion and he created that as much as Hollywood did.  Born Archie Leach, he said many times over his long life that he was always playing Cary Grant.

Randolph Scott, on the other hand, was, if nothing else, quite self-assured.  He has always been regarded as being warm, kind and accepting.  Without considering him in the same breath as Grant, I don't think there was ever a gay comment about him.  I pride myself on my well-oiled gaydar and never in a million years would I have guessed Scott was gay... and certainly not post-1942.

In the years after their cohabitating ended, both went on to become mega-movie stars.  The list of famous movies Grant made
is as long as this posting.  The American Film Institute once named him the second biggest male movie star of all-time.  (Ok, I won't leave you there, so Bogart was number one.)  Regardless of his acclaim and wealth, it appears he never recovered from the guilt of being gay.

Scott really had two careers.  In the Grant days and before, he appeared in many comedies, musicals and romances.  He was often not the lead, even the male lead.  But after Grant, he worked in some pretty butch roles.  After doing a number of war films, he gravitated into westerns and became, along with his two-time co-star and pal John Wayne, just about the best movie cowboy there ever was.  A funny thing though is that Scott's westerns are generally considered to be B westerns but they're about the best B westerns anyone could ever want.  His final film, 1962s Ride the High Country, along with another old cowboy, Joel McCrea, is a classic.  And through it all, Randolph Scott became one of the very richest men in Hollywood.  He always remained closed-mouthed about his private life. 

It has been noted though that Cary Grant and Randolph Scott continued to see one another privately all their lives... through all the marriages, through all the films, through all the wealth, through all the years... and I don't mean as mere friends.  A waiter in a Beverly Hills hotel said that late in their lives, the two old lovers would sit in a favorite booth at the back of the restaurant and hold hands.  If they were both in Los Angeles at the same time, they would always make time for one another.

Randolph Scott was born in 1898 and was six years older than Cary Grant.  However, their birthdays were only five days apart.  Grant was born on January 18 and Scott on January 23.  At the end, Grant died in November of 1986 at age 82.  It is said that when an ill Scott heard of Grant's death, he put his head in his hands and wept uncontrollably.  Five months later, at age 89, Scott, too, would be dead.

Scott and Grant were actually quite open about what they were doing. They may never have come right out with the truth in those dangerous times but they didn't exactly deny their relationship either. Not while they lived together. I think they were very brave and their brazenness didn't hurt their careers whatsoever. 

So when we hear about some of the great Hollywood love stories of yesteryear... the ultimately tragic love story of Gable and Lombard, the frequently fictionalized story of Tracy and Hepburn and a few others, I think it's time to include Randolph Scott and Cary Grant among them.  I think they are one of the great Hollywood love stories.

MGMs Sopranos II



  1. BC...I just LOVE your blog! You ARE the Movie Man!!! Interesting stories, wonderful writing...

  2. Thank you for a very candid and touching love story. I never knew. and Love Grant. Shame that he felt the guilt and they couldn't be together in the end. Your story was wonderful. Thank You, Alice from Canada

  3. I totally believe Grant and Scott were in love. Always felt that Grant was gay, at least bisexual, for Hollywood's sake.Their love story is heartbreaking and at the same time I would have call Grant and Scott mavericks for being two gay men in love at a time when people were losing their careers and lives for being who they were in that era of Hollywood.