Saturday, June 18, 2011

Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant by Jennifer Grant

It's almost funny to think that there was a time when I didn't know who Cary Grant was. In college, I took a class on 20th century American history. The big project was for everyone to choose a movie theme and write about how the movies represented their time period. My theme was "The Ideal Man," all about Cary Grant. I was supposed to watch three movies and ended up watching something around twenty. I bought and borrowed anything I could get my hands on, just to get more Cary. He has that kind of draw.

Personally, I'm a fan of autobiography as opposed to biography. Nobody can know anyone better than themselves, right? As far as I'm aware, Cary Grant never wrote an autobiography (Though according to Ms. Grant, he started one). However, a biography by his daughter comes pretty close.

My initial reaction to Good Stuff was crying. I was on my break at work and just started crying. Jennifer Grant wrote a touching tribute to her father. No offense to my own dad, but Cary Grant was a wonderful father. He saved almost everything she touched, and the book is full of photographs, letters, and drawings. I was awestruck by how he took up fatherhood with such zeal.

It was nice to get a glimpse at the man behind the famous Cary Grant, and also reassuring to know that the real Cary Grant was basically just as he seemed. Rumors are addressed and mostly debunked. Cary Grant comes off as a poor boy who made it, then as a doting father trying to raise his daughter. Good Stuff made me cry, yes, but it also made me laugh and marvel at how amazing Cary Grant was in real life, even more amazing than C.K. Dexter Haven or any other character he played. My favorite Cary Grant quote was always:

"I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until I became that person. Or he became me."

In his case, Alexander Archibald Leech pretended to be a movie star named Cary Grant. Cary Grant the actor pretended to be a father. He was pretending to be all those things at once, when he already was all of them at once. He no longer had to pretend, he had become Cary Grant, and Cary Grant had become him.

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