Twenty-nine years ago this week, actor Cary Grant died at 82 in Davenport, IA. The next evening he was to appear in our town in his solo performance. In 1931, he performed in a season of musicals at The Muny. Still pondering his future, he bonded with the receptionist at the old Gatesworth Hotel on Union Boulevard, where he lived that summer. She recalled to this columnist how he would sit daydreaming on a curbstone. In the 1970s and 1980s, Grant and I became friends via many occasions in L.A. and in Vegas. Once, I showed him and his wife, Barbara Harris, some memorabilia of his performances at The Muny, that included his frequent co-star Gladys Baxter. He teared up when I gave him a copy of his payroll record: “Archibald Leach, $35 per week.” One of the greatest stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Grant once was teamed up with another Muny alum, Irene Dunne, in the 1941 melodrama, “Penny Serenade.” Other films starring Grant that continue to entertain on TMC: “An Affair to Remember”; “North by Northwest” and “Charade.”During his early years in Hollywood, he lived on-and-off with Randolph Scott for about 12 years. “They were madly in love,” reported Richard Blackwell. Talullah Bankhead jokingly referred to Grant as “a lesbian.” Grant’s daughter, Jennifer, has furiously denied that he was gay.
WE’D HAVE PALACES OF FINE CUISINE like Tony Faust’s, Dorr & Zeller, the original Coal Hole, Shumacher’s, Washington Cafe and Busch’s Grove. There’d be department stores called Scruggs, Grand Leader, the William Barr Co. and Nugent’s. Movie houses: New Grand Central, Wehrenberg-Kaimann, Skouras and Fanchon Marco theaters. We’d have the Coliseum, where VP parades, boxing matches and the Democratic 1916 Convention were held. There’d be ice skating at the Winter Garden, Rubelman’s Hardware, Enna Jetick’s and Red Cross shoe stores, Wolf-Wilson drug stores, Pevely Dairy, Piggly Wiggly and Moll’s grocers, S.G. Adams stationery and news racks brimming with Collier’s, Saturday Evening Post and Liberty magazines.
Now, it’s only when the drizzle steals in to blot out their replacements that you dare think of the past – alone in bittersweet reverie.
NOV. 26, 1942, “Casablanca” was first unreeled in N.Y.C. and since then, it’s had a lasting influence and has grown in popularity. In fact, the Brattle Theater near Harvard continues to screen the film during the week of finals every year. Iconic songs: “As Time Goes By”; “It Had to be You.” Memorable lines: Bogart to Claude Rains as they walk away in the fog, “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”; Rains to the cops: “Round up all the usual suspects.”
WHISTLEBLOWER DOUG LAY, the student body’s 2015 Teacher at St. Louis Christian College, has written a self-published book on his experiences with the school and with First Christian Church of Florissant. Lay was given a choice – remain silent or be suspended and then dismissed – after raising questions about the way the church’s senior pastor, Steve Wingfield, handled allegations of sexual abuse against now-imprisoned ex-youth minister Brandon Milburn. It is for sale on Amazon.com. Meanwhile, Wingfield is on a sabbatical and church attendance has reportedly slipped to less than 400 from 1,200.