Letters

Letters 11-28-2016

Trump should avoid self-dealing President-elect Donald Trump plans to turn over running of The Trump Organization to his children, who are also involved in the transition and will probably be informal advisers during his administration. This is not a “blind trust.” In this scenario Trump and family could make decisions based on what’s best for them rather than what’s best for the country...

Trump the change we need?  I have had a couple of weeks to digest the results of this election and reflect. There is no way the selection of Trump as POTUS could ever come close to being normal. It is not normal to have a president-elect settle a fraud case for millions a couple of months before the inauguration. It is not normal to have racists considered for cabinet posts. It is not normal for a president-elect tweet outrageous comments on his Twitter feed to respond to supposed insults at all hours of the early morning...

Health care system should benefit all It is no secret that the health insurance situation in our country is controversial. Some say the Affordable Care Act is “the most terrible thing that has happened to our country in years”; others are thrilled that, “for the first time in years I can get and afford health insurance.” Those who have not been closely involved in the medical field cannot be expected to understand how precarious the previous medical insurance structure was...

Christmas tradition needs change The Christmas light we need most is the divine, and to receive it we do not need electricity, probably only prayers and good deeds. But not everyone has this understanding, as we see in the energy waste that follows with the Christmas decorations...

CORRECTIONS & CLARIFICATIONS 

A story in last week’s edition about parasailing businesses on East Grand Traverse Bay mistakenly described Grand Traverse Parasail as a business that is affiliated with the ParkShore Resort. It operates from a beach club two doors down from the resort. The story also should have noted that prior to the filing of a civil lawsuit in federal court by Saburi Boyer and Traverse Bay Parasail against Bryan Punturo and the ParkShore Resort, a similar lawsuit was dismissed from 13th Circuit Court in Traverse City upon a motion from the defendant’s attorney. Express regrets the error and omission.

A story in last week’s edition about The Fillmore restaurant in Manistee misstated Jacob Slonecki’s job at Arcadia Bluffs Golf Course. He was a cook. Express regrets the error.

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The Glamour, Glory and Guardedness of Grant

Nancy Sundstrom - October 14th, 2004
Just in time for harvest season comes a bumper crop of books by and about celebrities of all sorts, from Hollywood royalty to those a little further down the feeding chain, such as Paris Hilton, Sean Astin and Tom Green.
Arguably, one can expect more from a biography spanning the four-decade career of Cary Grant than one can from Jenna Jameson’s “How to Make Love Like a Porn Star,” but one can assume caveat empteur here. It’s all a matter of taste, isn’t it? And let’s face it, don’t some of these tomes, such as the latter-mentioned above, at least intrigue a reader to pick it up in the bookstore and scan the back cover and the photos, even while hiding inside an open copy of Philip Roth’s latest?
For this week, at any rate, let’s take a look at “Cary Grant” by the accomplished biographer Marc Eliot, who has written about pop culture for more than 25 years and whose works have been translated into 27 languages, including the New York Times bestselling Erin Brockovich autobiography, “Take It from Me,” and the critically acclaimed, award-winning biography “Walt Disney: Hollywood’s Dark Prince.”
On the book’s inside flap is the quote, “Everybody wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant.” What makes that remark so provocative is that it was made by Grant himself, and actor whose four-decade career was filled with outstanding performances in movies such as “Bringing Up Baby,” “The Philadelphia Story;” “Notorious,” and “North by Northwest,” to name just a few. But the premise Eliot builds this book upon is that Grant’s greatest creation was the illusion that the suave Cary Grant really existed offscreen.
Consider this excerpt from the opening:

“On the night of April 7, 1970, four years after starring in his last feature film, sixty-six-year-old Cary Grant, who had never won an Oscar, was awarded a special noncompetitive Academy Award for his lifetime of achievement in motion pictures. Although to his great legion of fans it was an honor scandalously overdue, for a number of reasons, some less obvious than others, it very nearly did not happen.
The original concept of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had been the brainstorm of Louis B. Mayer, who in 1926 came up with the idea of an interstudio house union open to all studio employees, including actors, run by moguls, to offset the growing problem of independent trade organization in Hollywood. The notion of annual awards was meant to placate those employees who sought the more practical benefits of better salaries, job security, health insurance, and retirement plans. At the time virtually everyone connected to the motion picture industry, from set painters, costume makers, and prop men to screenwriters, actors, and directors, was subject to the whims and fancies of the sweatshop mentality of the pioneering generation of Hollywood moguls.
The first actor to successfully break the hitherto ironclad contract system for performers was Cary Grant, who became a freelance actor-for-hire on a per film basis in 1936, after his original five-year exclusive deal with Paramount expired (as had the studio itself, in its first incarnation as Paramount Publix). During his half-decade studio tenure he had appeared in twenty-four features (including three made on loan-out to other studios) at a salaried basis that had begun at $450 a week in 1931 and ended at $3,500 in 1935, far below the $6,500 per week that Gary Cooper, his main competition at Paramount, earned that same year. Money, however, was not the only reason Grant chose not to remain a contract studio player. In 1934 MGM, the studio “with more stars than there are in heaven!” and the one he felt was more suited to his style and image, wanted to borrow him from Paramount to costar as Captain Bligh’s first mate in Frank Lloyd’s Mutiny on the Bounty. It was a film Grant desperately wanted to be in, believing it would be the one to finally make him a major star. When Adolph Zukor, the head of Paramount, refused to allow the loan-out, MGM gave the role instead to its own relatively unknown contract player, Franchot Tone. Bounty went on to win the Best Picture Oscar for 1935, and its three stars-Clark Gable, Charles Laughton, and Tone-were all nominated for Best Actor. (None won; the award that year went to Victor McLaglen for his performance in John Ford’s The Informer.)
Grant never forgave Zukor, and a year later, when his contract was up, he refused to re-sign with a reorganized Paramount, then surprised everyone when, after fielding offers from all the majors, he announced he was not going to sign an exclusive studio contract with any and instead would sell his services on a nonexclusive per-film basis. To underscore the finality of his decision to go independent, he canceled his membership in the Academy, an action everyone in Hollywood considered professional suicide. At the time no one except Charlie Chaplin had been able to survive without the security of a weekly paycheck in Academy-dominated Hollywood, and to do it he had to start his own studio, United Artists (with Douglas Fairbanks, D. W. Griffith, and Mary Pickford).”

A fascinating and timeless star who came to personify the essence of being suave, sophisticated and debonaire, Grant was one complicated fellow off-screen. He was born Archibald Leach in 1904, in the seaport village of Bristol, England, and a troubled childhood, ambiguous sexuality and a raft of insecurities followed him almost from the beginning, and certainly to the end of his life. Beneath an idealized movie image was a conflicted man who never quite found a way to juggle fame and notoriety with an intensely private life separate from the “Cary Grant” persona.
Eliot has done meticulous research here, and delivers scores of fascinating anecdotes about Grant’s work on an astonishing 72 films. The camera loved him, but whether he loved the camera as much is what Eliot seeks to uncover, along with some of the more controversial aspects of his life, such as his repeatedly being denied the Oscar he coveted, his 11-year relationship with Randolph Scott, five marriages and numerous affairs, psychiatric sessions and weekly LSD treatments and much, much more.

Beautifully written, and with a great deal of compassion for and insight to his subject, this is a revealing and nuanced portrait of one of the biggest and best stars in cinematic history, and an absolute must for Hollywood-philes.
 
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