In Sleepless in Seattle, Nora Ephron’s new romantic comedy, Rob Reiner gives Tom Hanks this dating tip: ”Think Cary Grant.” Good advice-no other leading man has ever been as effortlessly charming as Grant. Even the very ’90s women of Sleepless fall under the Grant spell-especially while watching his 1957 weepie, An Affair to Remember. Grant’s Affair is memorable for another, rather ironic reason: In it, his Casanova character breaks his engagement to an heiress after a shipboard romance with a nightclub singer played by Deborah Kerr. In real life, Grant stuck with his moneyed fiancee-Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton, whom he had met while sailing from New York to England in 1939. The phrase worlds apart could have been coined for these two. Grant was born Archibald Leach in Bristol, England. His mother disappeared when he was 9 years old-to a sanitorium, as he would learn some 20 years later. Grant spent much of his youth hanging out in music halls and began his career as an acrobat at 14. By the time New Yorker Hutton was 12, she had inherited $25 million from her mother and the label ”poor little rich girl” from the press. Nevertheless, love at least temporarily bridged the gap, and on July 8, 1942, Grant, the dashing 38-year-old star of The Philadelphia Story, secretly wed the twice-married Hutton, 30. He had already been married once, to actress Virginia Cherrill. Appropriately, Grant was too busy shooting Once Upon a Honeymoon to take one with his new bride. The media dubbed them Cash & Cary, although Grant refused to live off his wife’s fortune. The very private actor hated her entourage of servants and friends and, as one story goes, embarrassed her by showing up in front of dinner guests on stilts; often he didn’t show up at all. There were also rumors of extramarital acrobatics on both their parts. Three years after the wedding, Hutton filed for divorce.
But theirs was an affair they both remembered. Before she died in 1979, Hutton (separated from her seventh hubby) described Grant as the husband ”I loved the most.” Grant, married to fifth wife Barbara Harris at the time of his death in 1986, had spoken fondly of Hutton: ”The trouble wasn’t with her. People just can’t disassociate her from her money, and they act like idiots around her.”
TIME CAPSULE July 8, 1942 On screen Ray Milland and Betty Field addressed the pointed question, Are Husbands Necessary? Kay Kyser mused ”Who Wouldn’t Love You ” on the radio. And Now Tomorrow, Rachel Field’s love story about a deaf rich girl, was a best- seller.