They’ve Got Marriage On Their Minds
IS Cary Grant going to marry Betsy Drake? If so, when, and why have they waited so long?
I’m happy to report that Betsy will become Mrs. Grant in the early winter, after she fulfills promises she has made to star in two motion pictures.
For more than a year, of course, everybody has been gossiping about Betsy and Cary. It has been said and written that they had eloped, that they were secretly married, and then, that they had cooled! I even indulged in a little prognosticating, myself. But it was all guesswork. Both Cary and Betsy refused to talk, and nothing could get them to change their minds.
And then, a lucky “accident” came my way. I had set up an interview with Betsy, to talk about her career, and maybe get a word or two about Cary. But it must have been my day. Cary wasn’t working! And he had arranged to pick up Betsy at my house! Before he arrived, Betsy put it very simply.
“If I should marry before I have at least two successful pictures, no matter how good I might be, I would simply be known as Mrs. Cary Grant. I hope later to make a picture with Cary, but now I have two to do alone, one a comedy, and the other a drama.”
Betsy was in the process of telling me how much she admired Cary, when he walked in. He’d been at M-G-M making a short for the Community Chest.
“Good timing,” he said, sitting down for a cup of tea, and it was tea.
Their eyes met, Betsy’s and Cary’s, and I’ve never seen such a spark! It gave me an inspiration. I said, “I’m waiting for Betsy to tell me more reasons why you two have delayed your marriage plans.”
“The date is up to Betsy,” Cary said. “I’m ready any time, but she feels, and I think she is right, that she wants to have a career, and she wants to do it independently. Of course, neither of us can be sure we won’t make up our minds to marry, one day, on the spur of the moment. But it looks now as if we would be married around January first.”
It wouldn’t surprise me if they made it during the Christmas holidays.
Cary went on, “You know, it hurt Betsy to be known as the discovery of Cary Grant. She had done very well on the stage before she met me. And she still has a fight ahead.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well, she’s not the kind of girl to wear green slacks and a red fox fur. She doesn’t want to look like every other actress, as the girls used to do when they all had Joan Crawford lips, and then, following Harlow, became platinum blondes.”
Betsy was wearing a simple gray dress, the same color as her clear eyes, and her hair, cut very short, fell into its own natural wave. There’s a definite quietness and poise about her, too, until she gets excited! Then, she stutters a little like my favorite girl friend, Marion Davies.
Talking to Betsy and Cary, I challenged, “You two are not afraid of two careers in one marriage?”
Once again, it was Betsy who gave me the affirmative answer. “Cary is too successful, too well-established ever to worry about me becoming the star in the family.” She laughed. “Most ‘career trouble,’ I think, comes when both are struggling for a foothold, and one or the other gets ahead faster. Usually, too, that happens between people who marry too young.”
Cary poured another cup of tea.
“Betsy and I would never have married when we were young,” he commented.
“Why not?” Betsy asked quickly.
“Because you would not have liked me, and I wouldn’t have liked you!” was his surprising answer. “When I was young, I was conceited and impossible. I was so conscious of my clothes and the way I looked, I never knew there was another actor on the set. I thought only of my lines. Today, I know it is important for me to know what the other actors are thinking and doing, and I know how completely unimportant it is to have well-fitted clothes in an ill-fitting performance.”
“But what do you mean, you wouldn’t have liked Betsy?” I put in.
“Well, I’ll tell you,” he replied. “Betsy is the most honest person I know. She is simple, direct, intelligent. When I was young, I would not have appreciated her fine qualities. I was too self-centered. Ah, but now,” he chuckled, “I have lived and learned.”
“And you are sure you will be happy?”
“Why not? We have everything in common. And my friends all like Betsy That’s a great test. You know, neither of us are night club people. We like to sit at home with people we like and talk about books and music and the theater and movies.
“Two of our best friends are Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. They were my friends long before I knew Betsy and they like Betsy so much.”
Once again their eyes met, and I could see how much Cary likes this cool, slim girl That she adores him, there can be no doubt.
I must admit that I have seen Cary on previous occasions when he was courting this belle or that one and believed himself to be in love. But the way he treats Betsy is different. He respects her, listens to her judgment, and has a protective attitude toward her that is charming.
Gone are the traces of the siege with the yellow jaundice Cary had earlier in the year. And he has put back some weight. He looks as though he is spending a lot of time in the sun. And he isn’t restless.
“You know,” I told Cary, “I think one of the reasons you like Betsy so much is because she wants to do the things you like to do, and that’s a cheerful contrast to your last wife.” I was referring, of course, to Barbara Hutton.
“Poor Barbara.” Cary spoke with sincere feeling. “I hope her health improves. I am so sorry she has been so ill.”
I remember a dinner at Barbara Hutton’s. With few exceptions, the guests were titled foreigners who spoke only French. It was a stilted gathering and no psychoanalyst was needed to sense how Pored Cary was with the whole thing.
But even when he and Barbara parted, as they were bound to do, Cary never in any way criticized her or her mode of life.
He was the same way, too, about his first wife, Virginia Cherrill. When they broke up, he blamed himself more than Virginia.
“How old are you?” I asked Betsy, who’s too young for that question to be impolite.
“I’m twenty-six,” she replied. “And much too young for me,” Cary said. “I’m not!” Betsy said quickly. “A man should be older, and there isn’t as much difference in our ages as you pretend.”
Cary laughed, “You mean, it isn’t a case of May and December?”
“Do you think,” I pressed, “you will marry the first of the year? Above all, don’t elope before this story is in print.”
“If we do, we will let you know.”
“Betsy has two pictures to make,” Cary explained, “and I have one starting in January. But you never can tell,” he laughed. “If she is as good as you say, in ‘Dancing in the Dark,’ she may not want to marry me at all. But, at any rate, you are safe in saying we are going to get married, and sometime not too far away.”
It was the first time either Cary or Betsy had admitted to me they had any plans to marry and maybe you don’t think I didn’t file it away.
He laughed. “You know, Louella,” he said, “you’ve tricked me into making a lot of admissions. You’ve been hurling questions at me a mile a minute.”
“I’m going to hurl another,” I said. “Do you think Betsy will succeed as a top actress?”
“If she has the right directors and stories,” he replied promptly. “She has the innate talent. But she can’t be a puppet just to make a commercial success.”
“And I have a feeling you will not in the least mind if she should give it all up to become plain Mrs. Cary Grant,” I said.
“No, no!” he protested. “I have found real happiness in my career. And Betsy should have the same opportunity, if she wants it.”
At the door, I kissed Betsy on the cheek. Her face was so fresh and so shining I couldn’t resist letting her know how much I hoped she would keep her happiness.
If only she and Cary will not fall into the Hollywood pattern of discontent, how wonderful it will be.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE JANUARY 1950