BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
“He had a hard time in relationships,” says Grant’s fourth wife, actress Dyan Cannon. “He’d leave before they’d leave.”
Cannon, Oscar-nominated co-star of the films Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969) and Heaven Can Wait (1978), has just published a memoir of her courtship and two-year marriage, Dear Cary: My Life With Cary Grant ($26, itbooks).
She describes their relationship as “like Pygmalion.”
“He changed my hair, clothes, everything, my thoughts,” says Cannon, who met Grant in 1961, when she was 24 and he was 57.
To please Grant, Cannon did whatever he said, including take LSD.
“He thought it was the gateway to God and his real identity,” says Cannon, who refused to take the hallucinogen in 1966 when pregnant with their only child, Jennifer. She recently wrote her own memoir, Good Stuff: a Reminiscence of My Father.
Grant, born Archibald Leach in England, grew up abandoned by his philandering father and mentally ill mother, Cannon says.
“He was never able to rid himself for a long period of his life of the demons,” she says.
A juggler, Grant moved to the United States in 1920, landing in Hollywood 11 years later. Among his classic films: The Philadelphia Story (1940), An Affair to Remember (1957) and North By Northwest (1959). Grant, who died at 82 in 1986, was rumored to be bisexual and lived off-and-on for years with another gorgeous movie star, Randolph Scott.
Cannon, 74 and soon to be a grandmother for the second time, says she and Grant didn’t discuss any of that. “It never came up in our marriage. Never. There are rumors about everybody. What Cary did before and after me, I don’t know.”
She hates today’s TV gossip programs. “Reality shows today leave no room for the imagination. It’s verbal diarrhea. And boring.”
Despite it all, Cannon says she loves Grant more today than when she was married to him and describes their relationship as “the romance of a lifetime.”
Cannon appears 8 p.m. Friday at Books & Books Coral Gables and 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Dress for Success luncheon at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach; $95, dfsmiami.org.