Category Archives: Actor

Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. (1883-1939)

FEATURE image: Douglas Fairbanks, c. 1918. Harris & Ewing, photographer. Collection Library of Congress. No known restrictions on publication. Public Domain.

By John P. Walsh.

Born in Denver in 1883, Douglas Fairbanks’ mother had been married three times before she had him, the younger of two brothers with his father, an East Coast publisher and lawyer, who had relocated his family to the West. Douglas’s father abandoned the family when he was 5 years old, and the brothers were raised by their mother in Denver. Douglas also had two older half brothers by way of his mother’s previous marriages. With Douglas’s father’s departure, his mother gave her youngest sons her first husband’s surname—Fairbanks.

Douglas Fairbanks started acting as a youth in summer stock at the historic Elitch Theatre in Denver so that by 1899 Fairbanks was touring with the acting troupe of English Shakespearean actor Frederick Warde (1851-1935). For two seasons Fairbanks was an actor and assistant stage manager with the group.1 Fairbanks moved to New York where he debuted on Broadway in Her Lord and Master in February 1902. The year before, from February 1901 to July 1901, Ethel Barrymore (1879-1959) of the legendary Barrymore acting family became a Broadway star in a new romantic comedy play, Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines, at the Garrick Theatre in New York City. Barrymore’s production ran on Broadway for 168 performances in 1901 and made the 22-year-old actress a star. The turn of 20th century was a time when the theatre was king of the arts – and where, in the new century’s first decade, the nation’s celebrities were born to be made. Her Lord and Master by Martha Morton was first produced in New York, during the spring of 1902. The play, in which Douglas Fairbanks had his first role, met with success, and ran for 69 performances at the Manhattan Theatre (demolished) at 102 W. 33rd Street in New York City.2 The opening night cast for A Case of Frenzied Finance in April 1905 included Douglas Fairbanks playing Bennie Tucker at third-billing. The play, set in the Vanbillon Hotel, ran for less than a month at the Savoy Theatre at 112 W. 34th Street. That theatre opened in 1900 and closed in 1933 and was demolished in 1952.3

A dapper and svelte 22-year-old Douglas Fairbanks played third-bill Bennie Tucker in A Case of Frenzied Finance at the Savoy Theatre in April 1905. It closed after 8 performances. Public Domain.

Fairbanks appeared in A Gentleman from Mississippi from September 1908 to September 1909. On September 22, 1908 (datelined September 21, 1908) The New York Times wrote a blurb regarding a preview that stated: “A Gentleman from Mississippi received its initial performance to-night at the New national Theatre. The play deals with Congressional riots and social life in the National capital. Thomas A. Wise, Douglas Fairbanks, Sue Van Duser, Harriet Worthington and Lola May were in the cast. Mr Wise [1865-1928] and Harrison Rhodes [1871-1929] are the authors of the play.”

A Gentleman from Mississippi ran for 407 performances moving to the Bijou Theatre in NYC.4 In July 1907, 24-year-old Douglas Fairbanks married wealthy Anna Beth Sully (1886-1967) of Rhode Island. The couple had one son who followed his father into the acting business—Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (1909-2000).

Douglas Fairbanks, c. 1910. It was on Broadway before 1915 that Fairbanks established his character type of the athletic all-American hero that followed him into films. By 1920 it was the full-blooded romanticism of Douglas Fairbanks film roles that drew the biggest movie-going audiences in the country 5 Harris & Ewing, photographer. Public Domain.

It was in November 1912, on opening night of Hawthorne of the USA, a play by J.B. Fagan, that Fairbanks established his character type for stage and screen: the athletic all-American hero.6 With Fairbanks in the starring role as Anthony Hamilton Hawthorne, the play set in Oberon, the small capital of Borrovina, a small independent state somewhere in the mess of Southeastern Europe, ran for 72 performances at the Astor Theatre at 1537 Broadway (45th St.) in New York.7 It was made into a silent film in 1919 starring Wallace Reid (1891-1923) as the American hero.

Athleticism and acrobatic stunts characterized Douglas Fairbanks’ roles on stage since 1912 and translated to his films. They are on full display in A Modern Musketeer, a silent adventure comedy film produced by and starring Douglas Fairbanks in 1917.
Fairbanks family, c. 1916. Public Domain.

In 1915 the Fairbanks moved to Los Angeles – Douglas Fairbanks Sr. had received a lucrative offer from the nascent film industry. It was a three-year contract for $104,000 per year (over $3 million in today’s dollars) to join Triangle films. Exorbitant sums were dangled, often over-ambitiously by producers, to coax legitimate theatre actors to work on the West Coast in film – and under sometimes multi-year contracts. The strategy usually worked but came at a high cost later to a company’s survival and the star’s future. Again, Ethel Barrymore who became a Broadway star in 1901 and national celebrity at 22 years old began to appear in major silent films starting in 1914. Her brothers John and Lionel were already making films and though absolutely devoted to the stage from her youth, Ethel made at least 14 films before returning to the stage full time in 1920. The trend to capitalize on the talents of the stage in film was already underway when Triangle company was formed in 1915 to do just that on a spectacular scale.

Harry Aitken, c. 1910. Public Domain.

Harry Aitken (1877-1956) and his brother Roy Aitken (1882-1978) co-founded a film distribution business in Milwaukee in 1906. There had also been a relationship with a Chicago film distributor who established American Film Manufacturing Company production company in 1910. The Aitken brothers relocated to California in 1908 and in 1912, with others, formed the Mutual Film Corporation. One of Mutual’s many subsidiary production and auxiliary units was Keystone Studios, where 24-year-old Charlie Chaplin got his start in films in 1913 at $150 per week (Chaplin was making more than $20,000 a week 5 years later). In 1914 Harry Aitken went into partnership with D.W. Griffith (1875-1948) and, in 1914, founded Reliance-Majestic Studios at 4516 Sunset Boulevard which is today a strip mall.

Following the tremendous success of The Birth of Nation in 1915 with which Harry Aitken was involved so to reap some of its incredible profits, the Aitken brothers and various other companies, such as Reliance-Majestic Studio, departed from Mutual to form a conglomerate of Triangle Film Corporation. The company served as a distributor to other studios in California and Aitken’s plans included sweeping into the fold the best and the brightest of Broadway theatre –  which included 32-year-old Douglas Fairbanks. A leading artistic objective for these Hollywood producers was to bring these stage actors’ greatest plays to the screen. Believed to be a worthwhile goal in 1915, before the end of the 1920’s such published plays and other literature while fine for the boudoir reader were problematic to simply translate to the silver screen. The movement towards self-censorship had developed in reaction to the fear the industry would be regulated or outright banned by states. In 1915 there were fewer worries about this as such theatrical artistic fare was expected to attract a better educated movie-goer as well as the Wall Street big-money-type investors who invested in Broadway plays. In one fell swoop Aitken contracted over 60 actors and actresses including Billy Burke (1884-1970), recently married to Florenz Ziegfeld; soon-to-be Western star Dustin Farnum (1874-1929); Shakespearean actor Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree (1852-1917) who played Macbeth in D.W. Griffith’s lost 1916 film of the same name; and, “Casey At the Bat” DeWolf Hopper (1858-1935).

Douglas Fairbanks, 1916. Public Domain.

The debut feature from Triangle starred Douglas Fairbanks in The Lamb, a film based on a 1913 stage play that was expanded to have Western cinematic elements. It premiered with two more features on September 23, 1915 at The Knickerbocker Hotel in Fairbanks’ old stomping ground of New York City. Triangle had in-house three master directors – D.W. Griffith, Mack Sennett, and Thomas Ince. D.W. Griffith had a hand in The Lamb, though its directing and screenplay credits went to 27-year-old W. Christy Cabanne (1888-1950). The Lamb was a hit with audiences, and critics praised Fairbanks’ performance marked by his celebrated physicality.8 The film had a nationwide release that November 1915. Although not yet a movie star, Fairbanks saw his weekly salary doubled. By His Picture in the Papers, a 1916 silent comedy film for Triangle that provided stunts for Fairbanks to wrap his athleticism around, Fairbanks became a popular screen idol. Fairbanks made 13 films for Triangle and when his contract expired, Harry Aitken was paying him $10,000 per week.9 Yet, excepting Douglas Fairbanks, Aitken had over bought his stable of stage stars in relation to their poor return so that in 1916 Triangle was known in the industry to be on the verge of collapse.

Adolph Zukor (1873-1976). Paramount Pictures’ co-founder was one of the innovators of the motion picture business. In 1916 Zukor convinced Douglas Fairbanks to become the independent producer of his own films. From the May 1922 issue of Motion Picture Classic. Public Domain.

Douglas Fairbanks, Triangle’s star, was convinced by Paramount Pictures’ co-founder Adolph Zukor (1873-1976), believed to be “the business brains of the motion picture industry,”10 to become the independent producer of his own films. This became reality at the end of 1916 with the creation of the Douglas Fairbanks Picture Corporation. Zukor had already worked to do something similar for Mary Pickford’s films.

Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford around 1919. Both movie stars already had established independent productions companies for their own films which still required their distribution, a key aspect of making money in movies, by others. These stars along with comedy star Charlie Chaplin and master director D.W. Griffith, founded United Artists in 1919 in large part to establish control of the distribution arm of the movie making business for their independently produced films. In 1919, Douglas Fairbanks divorced his wife, Anita. The following year, Mary Pickford, “America’s Sweetheart,” divorced her husband, Owen Moore, and married her paramour since 1916, Douglas Fairbanks. The American public took tremendous interest in these personal affairs and, if shocked, hardly surprised by the country’s changing values. Even Douglas Fairbanks’ films between 1915 and 1919 had demonstrated those changing values by way of his athletic, likeable characters increasingly drawn to display a comical, good-natured, brash overambition of a hero with a popular philosophy of his own whose sole adversary is boring convention – and, conventional boredom. While Fairbanks’ dramatis personae would change dramatically in the 1920s – broadly, from comedies to swashbucklers- this fantastic and ultimately attractive and likeable character type was merely reinforced.11 Glass negative, Harris & Ewing photographer. Public Domain.

As Fairbanks had been lured away by a better offer, so the actor hired his team at Triangle for his own company. Director John Emerson (1874-1956) and screenwriter Anita Loos (1888-1981) – to be husband and wife in 1919 – had successfully collaborated on Fairbanks’ movie hits at Triangle and even D.W. Griffith valued the pair as among the best film editors in the business after working on Intolerance in 1916. Emerson had directed important films at Triangle in 1916 featuring Douglas Fairbanks including His Picture in the Papers, The Americano, and The Mystery of the Leaping Fish. These Emerson-directed films were followed in 1917 by In Again, Out Again, Wild and Woolly, Down to Earth, and Reaching for the Moon, all for Douglas Fairbanks Productions. In 1918 Fairbanks made 5 more romantic comedies and one melodrama called Arizona, a film now lost. Despite a film receiving perhaps a mixed review from critics or being subject to local censorship, Douglas Fairbanks’ films proved box office gold due to his star power. In 1918 and moving into 1919 Fairbanks had become a millionaire, screen idol and soon to be co-founder of his own movie studio, United Artists.

John Emerson and Anita Loos in 1918. These two creative individuals who married in 1919 worked closely with Douglas Fairbanks as well as D.W. Griffith at Triangle films and later at Douglas Fairbanks Picture Corporation as director, screenwriter, and film editor helping to make some of the most popular and critically-acclaimed films in the industry at that time. Public Domain.
Down to Earth is a 1917 American comedy romance film produced by and starring Douglas Fairbanks with Irish-born actress Elaine Percy. Directed by John Emerson with a screenplay co-written by Anita Loos, the film features Fairbanks as Bill Gaynor who sets out to prove the outdoors and self-reliant manual labor are better for health than any modern medical treatment. He does this by kidnapping a group of hypochondriacs from a clinic that includes a girl, Ethel Forsythe (Percy), Bill is interested in but who has so far refused his proposals. Finally, after proving his point on a “deserted island”that is next to a California freeway, Bill bids farewell to the revived group of patients and escapes with his awaiting newly-gained love interest, Ethel, into the sunset by rowboat. The film is in the Public Domain.
The most popular silent film stars on the road selling Liberty bonds in 1918 were Douglas Fairbanks (depicted above on Wall Street in New York City before a massive crowd that year), Charlie Chaplin, and Mary Pickford. At the end of 1918 it was Fairbanks and Chaplin who decided to hire private detectives to spy on their respective studios, Paramount Pictures and First National. They were told that the studios were going to put a stop to their exorbitant salaries and not renew their contracts.12 The positive audience response from the Liberty drives and a fear of a corporate merger that would end star leveraging power, led directly to Fairbanks, Chaplin, Pickford, and master director D.W. Griffith, to found United Artists in January 1919. Public Domain.


1. Goessel, Tracey. The First King of Hollywood; The Life of Douglas Fairbanks. Chicago Review Press, 2016.

2. – retrieved August 28, 2023.


4. The Oxford Companion to American Theatre (3 ed.), Gerald Bordman  and Thomas S. Hischak, 2004 and

5. The United Artists Story, Ronald Bergan, Crown Publishers, Inc., New York, 1986, p.9.

6. Ibid., p. 8.

7. – retrieved August 30, 2023; – retrieved August 30, 2023.

8. Lombardi, Frederic (2013). Allan Dwan and the Rise and Decline of the Hollywood Studios. McFarland. pp. 53–54.

9. United Artists, Volume 1, 1919–1950: The Company Built by the Stars, Tino Balio,  University of Wisconsin Press, 2009. p. 143.

10. Quoted in the May 1922 issue of Movie Picture Classic, p. 26.

11. A Short History of the Movies, Gerald Mast, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1976, pp. 124; 127 and The Liveliest Art: A Panoramic History of The Movies, Arthur Knight, New York: MacMillan Publishing, 1978, p 107.

12. Chaplin: His Life and Art, David Robinson, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1985, p. 267.


A Short History of The Movies, Gerald Mast, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. Indianapolis, 1977.

David Robinson, Chaplin: His Life and Art. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1985.

Hollywood: The Pioneers. Kevin Brownlow and John Kobal, New York: Alfred A. Knopf Inc. A Borzoi Book,1979.

History of the American Cinema, Volume 5, 1930-1939, Charles Harpole, General Editor, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1993.

The American Film Industry, ed. Tino Balio, University of Wisconsin Press, 1976.

The Hollywood Story, Joel W. Finler, New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1988.

The Liveliest Art: A Panoramic History of The Movies, Arthur Knight, New York: MacMillan Publishing, 1978

The United Artists Story, Ronald Bergan, Crown Publishers, Inc., New York, 1986.

United Artists, Volume 1, 1919–1950: The Company Built by the Stars, Tino Balio,  University of Wisconsin Press, 2009

Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977).

FEATURE image: Charles (Charlie) Chaplin (1889-1977), 1918, A Dog’s Life, First National. Public Domain.

Charles (Charlie) Chaplin (1889-1977), 1918, A Dog’s Life, First National.

Twenty-four-year-old Charlie Chaplin was “discovered” in 1913 when he was touring Stateside in an English pantomime, acrobat and clown show troupe. Chaplin signed up to work for $150 a week in Mack Sennett’s Keystone Comedies. It was a definite pay raise at about triple what he was making in vaudeville and music halls. It opened his eyes to movies’ possibilities for popularity and money making. Chaplin made 35 motion pictures in the first year. The norm of one- and two-reels was a perfect foil for Chaplin’s trademark character – “the Tramp” – and he became an overnight sensation among film-hungry audiences.

Though Sennett wanted to keep his surprising new star, Chaplin was lured away by Essanay Film Manufacturing Company of Chicago for $1,250 a week and the option to direct his own pictures. Whereas Chaplin was making 5 and 6 figures with Essanay, the company was making 7 figures with the artist. Chaplin made 14 films for Essanay and exerted a high level of control of these films before he left for Mutual Film Corporation in early 1916.

Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) and Edna Purviance (1895-1958) in a clip from A Dog’s Life (1918). Granville Redmond (1871-1935) plays the dance hall proprietor. Purviance appeared in over 30 films with Chaplin between 1915 and 1923.

Chaplin’s new salary was $670,000 a year or $10,000 a week (equal to a staggering $300,000 plus per week in 2023 dollars) – plus bonuses that amounted to what had about been his collective total salary over two years at Essenay. By 1916 Charlie Chaplin had become the nation and world’s favorite comedian and a very marketable cultural phenomenon. In 1916 Chaplin made 12 films for Mutual which were all comic masterpieces- The Floorwalker, The Fireman, The Vagabond, One A.M., The Count, The Pawnshop, Behind the Screen and The Rink. In 1917 Chaplin made 4 more films. By the beginning of 1918 twenty-something Chaplin had become a world-renown film artist comic/auteur who found entrée to meeting with other international celebrity cultural artists.

Chaplin was a trouper who churned out the work and Mutual looked to keep Chaplin on for another series of profitable films. They presented a generous offer of $20,000 per week which is about $600,000 per week today. The studio would pick up Chaplin’s production costs as well. But, Charlie Chaplin, wanting to keep fresh as well as share in the profits of his pictures, signed with First National. Their deal included matching Mutual’s per week salary requirements as well as a signing bonus of $15,000. Though Chaplin had to pay his production costs with First National, he received the aforesaid profit-sharing for his next 8 pictures. At this point Chaplin was an independent producer with financing and artistic control over his own pictures as well as a 50% share in its box office. One next logical step would be to increase profit margin.

Chaplin’s first picture release for First National was A Dog’s Life. It was a three-reeler (33 minutes) featuring the Tramp that was released in April 1918 and for which Chaplin was its producer, writer, director, and star.

Main Theme by John Barry of Chaplin, the 1992 biographical film of the legendary English comic and filmmaker starring Robert Downey, Jr. as “the Tramp.” The film was produced and directed by Richard Attenborough (1923-2014) and co-starred Marisa Tomei as silent film actress Mabel Normand (1893-1930), Dan Ackroyd as director and studio head Mack Sennett (1880-1960), Penelope Ann Miller as silent film actress Edna Purviance and Kevin Kline as Douglas Fairbanks Sr. (1883-1939). The film featured Charlie Chaplin’s own daughter, Geraldine Chaplin (b. 1944), playing Chaplin’s mother and her own grandmother, Hannah Chaplin (1865-1928), Maria Pitillo played “America’s Sweetheart,” silent film actress Mary Pickford (1892-1979). Though the film received mixed critical reviews it was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Original Score for John Barry whose haunting Main Theme evokes the greatness of the main character in a comedy-drama story from TriStar Pictures (US).


David Robinson, Chaplin: His Life and Art. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company,1985.

Tino Balio, “Stars in Business: The Founding of United Artists” in The American Film Industry, ed. Tino Balio, University of Wisconsin Press, 1976.

CARY GRANT in the 1960’s: That Touch of Mink (1962), Charade (1963), Father Goose (1964) and Walk, Don’t Run (1966) and his Courtship, Marriage, and Baby with Dyan Cannon.

FEATURE image: “Cary Grant” by classic film scans is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

By John P. Walsh

Cary Grant made 72 films in a 34-year Hollywood career. Grant made his last six films in the 1960’s. After a successful acting career spanning four decades—Grant’s film debut was in 1932 for the Paramount Pictures’ comedy This is the Night and he received an honorary Oscar in 1970– he chose to retire from the silver screen in 1966. In that time, Cary Grant had become a household name synonymous with suavity, comedy, drama, romance, and his perpetually tanned-and-pressed good looks.

“Ours is a collaborative medium—we all need each other,” Cary Grant said as he accepted his honorary Oscar from presenter and friend Frank Sinatra at the 42nd Annual Academy Awards ceremony on April 7, 1970 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, California. 

The 66-year-old leading man and comic actor, whose film career ranged from 1932 to 1966, never won an Oscar. In 1970 he thanked the Academy whose audience that night gave him a standing ovation. Grant, who made over 80 films, including a long list of classic titles, expressed gratitude for “being privileged to be part of Hollywood’s most glorious era.”

Grant’s final film came in 1966 with the summer release of the comedy, Walk, Don’t Run. It was one more film made by one of Grant’s newly-formed production companies and distributed by Columbia Pictures. Not coincidentally, in February of that same year, the 62-year-old Grant, who had married his fourth wife, 29-year-old Dyan Cannon in June 1965, became a father for the first time. Grant called his baby daughter his “best production” and looked to give her the best of his attention and time. Grant opined: “My life changed the day Jennifer was born. I’ve come to think that the reason we’re put on this earth is to procreate. To leave something behind. Not films, because you know that I don’t think my films will last very long once I’m gone. But another human being. That’s what’s important.”

Cary Grant and wife Dyan Cannon with their baby daughter who was born on February 26, 1966.

Grant starting wooing Dyan Cannon in 1962. Within a three-year whirlwind courtship, as well as becoming eventually pregnant with Grant’s baby, a 28-year-old Dyan Cannon in 1965 sought once more a marriage proposal from one of cinema’s best, perhaps the best, and most important actors. But, once married, Dyan Cannon soon discovered that their marital relationship was more polite and frosty than she had expected to face with Hollywood’s quintessential leading man. On March 20, 1968, less than three years after tying the knot in a secret wedding ceremony in Las Vegas, Nevada, followed by flying to England in a private jet supplied by Grant’s longtime friend, magnate Howard Hughes, Cannon sought and was granted a divorce. As Cary Grant’s former wife and mother of his only child, Cannon did receive alimony from Grant to raise their daughter but the up-and-coming actress had to sort things out more completely after their break-up. Theirs had been a love affair with many memorable romantic moments. But Grant’s earlier confidence to Cannon when they were dating could have been seen as a warning of sorts if things happened to get more serious. “I don’t know what it is, but something happens to love when you formalize it,” Grant told her. “It cuts off the oxygen.”

Grant appears in character as an angel named Dudley in this promotional photograph for the 1947 fantasy romance film, The Bishop’s Wife. By seductively playing a certain song on the harp, Dudley convinces a rich woman to support the bishop’s cathedral building project. In real life, Grant was an ardent piano player.

When Grant asked to meet Dyan, she assumed it was for an acting part. Grant began his romance with then 25-year-old Dyan Cannon in 1962. By fall of 1962 the couple flew from California to New York where Cannon began rehearsing for The Fun Couple, a Broadway comedy play starring Jane Fonda and directed by Andreas Voutsinas. Grant meanwhile worked with film director Stanley Donen on Charade, an upcoming romantic comedy, pseudo-Hitchcock mystery thriller that Grant would co-star in with Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn had been filming another romantic comedy, Paris When it Sizzles, with William Holden.

Promotional poster for Stanley Donen’s Hitchcockian suspense thriller, Charade. The hit 1963 film was made in Paris in 1962 and 1963 and released at Christmas 1963. It starred Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.

The Main Title for Charade with its punchy animated titles by Maurice Binder (1918-1991) was composed by Henry Mancini (1924-1994). At 39 years old Mancini was an Academy Award-winning composer — Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961 and Days of Wine and Roses in 1962. Charade would begin a number of successful collaborations for Mancini with Stanley Donen in the 1960’s, including Arabesque in 1966 starring Sophia Loren and Gregory Peck and Two For the Road in 1967 with Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney.

Henry Mancini, c. 1970. The Main Theme from Charade was the first of a number of successful film score collaborations Mancini had with director Stanley Donen in the 1960’s.

On the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart a slightly longer vocal version of Charade reached no. 36 and was one of two top-40 pop hits for Mancini in 1963. It peaked at no. 15 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Charade produced one of Mancini’s eighteen Academy Awards nominations (he won four) for Best Original Song. The Oscar that year went to Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn for “Call Me Irresponsible” from Papa’s Delicate Condition, a comedy starring Jackie Gleason and Glynis Johns.

Maurice Binder did film title designs for dozens of films but is particularly known for ones he did for Stanley Donen such as Charade, as well as Indiscreet in 1958, The Grass Is Greener in 1960, and Bedazzled in 1967. Maurice Binder is also famous for 16 James Bond film titles he designed starting with the first Bond film, Dr. No, in 1962. In 1991 Binder explained the genesis of his main titles for Bond: “That was something I did in a hurry, because I had to get to a meeting with the producers in twenty minutes. I just happened to have little white, price tag stickers and I thought I’d use them as gun shots across the screen. We’d have James Bond walk through fire, at which point blood comes down onscreen. That was about a twenty-minute storyboard I did, and they said, this looks great!”

Bond Films Openings. Maurice Binder created the series’ first “Gun Barrel Sequence” for Dr. No in 1962.

Charade’s animated Main Title and music follows a wide screen shot of a quiet pre-dawn countryside in Europe as a speeding train eventually approaches and screeches past. A body is dumped out of the moving train, plunges down the ravine and stops in a ditch, the camera providing a close-up of the dead victim’s face. Colorful animation follows of pinwheels as the relentless wood-block-driven music heighten tension for what will be two charming lovers caught in a mysterious web of criminals after money.

Stills montage of Maurice Binder’s Main Title for Charade that accompanies Henry Mancini’s music.

Grant reluctantly left Cannon and the comforts of his suite at the Plaza in New York to make his way to Paris to shoot Charade (Hepburn’s home was near Paris). Walking along the left bank of the River Seine near Notre Dame is the Pont au Double bridge, just below the Quai de Montebello. During the filming of Charade, Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn walk along the riverbank below this bridge as they discuss who the killer is. Just outside of Parc Monceau is the Musée Cernuschi on the Avenue Velasquez. The museum is featured in Charade, where it is used as Reggie’s apartment which she finds ransacked after returning from a holiday ski trip. Located near the Louvre is the Palais Royal which was originally the residence of Cardinal Richelieu, and later the property of the King of France housing apartments, offices, shops and restaurants. The Palais Royal appears in Charade in its final scenes when the real Carson Dyle is revealed and shooting begins.

Shooting scenes for Charade involved many locations in Paris.

When Dyan Cannon had her first holiday break from Broadway rehearsals at Christmas, she hopped on a flight to Paris. Arriving on Boxer Day in 1962, Grant and Cannon spent the next several days together in his hotel. On New Year’s Eve, Grant and Cannon were the special guests of Audrey Hepburn and her husband Mel Ferrer at their castle. There was a sumptuous dinner and many flights of crisp and creamy French champagne. Cannon flew back to the States on January 2, 1963, after a most pleasant holiday. She resumed her theater work in New York City while Grant and friends stayed on in Paris to continue filming Charade.

Cary Grant, making his 70th film, was reluctant to leave the U.S. for Paris for the several months in late 1962 and early 1963 it took to film Charade. It premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Christmas Day 1963.

Radio City Music Hall in 2008.

The film Charade is well-known for its Hitchcock-style inspiration and screenplay by the original story’s author Peter Stone (1930-2003). From Stone’s 1961 short story, The Unsuspecting Wife, the film Charade offers witty lines and a head-knocking, heart-pounding whodunit. In Charade, Regina “Reggie” Lampert (Hepburn) is on winter holiday in the French Alps. Returning to her home in Paris, she is shocked to find that it has been ransacked of everything of value. The mysterious victim in the Main Title and the mysterious man Reggie just met on holiday in Grenoble– Peter Joshua, alias Alexander Dyle, alias Adam Canfield, alias Brian Cruikshank (Cary Grant) –merge into her life to help her solve the mystery of why these crimes have occurred and what they mean. Charade is about hidden money, spies and larcenists, double-crossing and being on the run. Besides that, it’s a love story. Charade was one of the last of a long line of suspense-screwball comedy films –a staple Hollywood film genre since the 1930’s–that faded out during the tumultuous 1960’s and not to reappear until the 1980’s.

Charade opened on December 25, 1963 at Radio City Music Hall. The film made six million dollars while the reviews, though mixed, were mostly positive. Critics did remark on the age difference between the romantic leads –a 59-year-old Cary Grant and 34-year-old Audrey Hepburn. By early 1964 the perfectly suave and likeable leading man for over 30 years was beginning to think about retirement. But there were still some things he hoped to accomplish first.

Charade in the rear view mirror, Grant came home just as Cannon became mostly absent. Throughout 1964 and much of 1965 Cannon had done no film work yet but continued her theater career as she was touring the country in the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Looking for something to do with his time, Grant formed a production company and made Father Goose.

Photographs above: Cary Grant in Operation Petticoat.

Grant’s character, Walter Eckland, played against Grant’s film type. Ecklund was a bedraggled loner in the South Pacific during World War II who reluctantly takes under his protection an unmarried French school teacher (Leslie Caron) and her seven grade school students. They were suddenly made refugees from the war during a Japanese bombing raid. The heart-warming Father Goose was a mega-hit at its release during Christmas 1964 and made millions of dollars. Receipts, however, were significantly less than in each of Grant’s three previous films — Operation Petticoat in 1959 with Tony Curtis, That Touch of Mink in 1962 with Doris Day, and Charade. Despite a lot of pre-Oscar buzz, Grant wasn’t even nominated for his performance. It was one more disappointment for Grant as he worked to possibly be given an Academy Award before he might retire.

Cary Grant and Doris Day in the hit romantic comedy, That Touch of Mink. Grant was dismayed that his 1964 romantic comedy adventure film Father Goose made less money than Charade and almost $6 million less than That Touch of Mink in 1962 and Operation Petticoat in 1959 combined.

That Touch of Mink co-starred Doris Day and Cary Grant. It was the hit movie of summer of 1962 though outshined in the movie world later that year by Lawrence of Arabia and The Longest Day. The romantic-comedy is great fun—it won, in this different age, a Golden Globe award for Best Comedy Picture-—and became a popular rerun on TV for the next decade.

Cary Grant was cast as wealthy businessman Philip Shane, a role originally meant for Rock Hudson. That Touch of Mink was, above all, intended to be a Doris Day vehicle. From 1962 to 1964 Doris Day was THE top box office star in Hollywood. Her presence definitely contributed to Universal Pictures’ bottom line since That Touch of Mink was the fourth biggest money maker of that year.

Playing working girl Cathy Timberlake, the movie is basically a stylish “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back”—and given a chance to learn his lesson, they get married. American audiences loved the concept as well as Day and Grant together on the big screen. The film was the fastest million-dollar earner of the year- and set a record at the time for the highest gross earnings in an initial theatrical release.

For Grant it was his second highest grossing film of his 30-year career, which was especially prosperous for the 58-year-old actor since he was a co-producer. Grant personally made $4 million for That Touch of Mink (around $35 million in today’s money). Three weeks after its opening, Betsy Drake, Grant’s third wife, found it an opportune time to file for divorce.

The court proceedings of the high-profile couple after more than a decade of marriage were followed intimately by the press. The settlement for Drake, who told the papers, “I was always in love with him and I still am….but…he left me long ago,” included over one million dollars in cash and a profit share in every Cary Grant film ever made up to 1962.

Meanwhile, That Touch of Mink, a film thick with early 1960’s conventional sensibilities, was nominated for 3 Academy Awards. Both Grant and Doris Day never won an Academy Award. In 1970, after Grant retired from film, he won an Honorary Academy Award. The story goes that after her exit from films, Doris Day (born Doris Kappelhoff in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1922) was offered the Honorary Oscar multiple times but always turned it down. In 1962 That Touch of Mink was nominated for Best Sound, Best Art Direction and Best Screenplay. For the first two categories Oscar went to Lawrence of Arabia and, for the third category, to Divorce Italian Style.

Newly married in June 1965 to Dyan Cannon who was expecting their baby, Grant announced he was flying to Japan to make another movie. Grant returned to California permanently just in time to drive his wife to the hospital to deliver their first child, a baby daughter, born on February 26, 1966.

In June 1965, with Father Goose and the Oscars behind him and Dyan Cannon’s national tour ended—Grant and Cannon, who was now pregnant, got married. After a secret marriage ceremony in Las Vegas and a honeymoon, their news was eventually publicized. As the excitement began to settle down, Grant informed Cannon he would be making another film—and was traveling to Japan by himself for the next many months.

Grant had formed another production company and with producer Sol C. Siegel, signed with Columbia Pictures to distribute his new film. Buying the rights to The More the Merrier, a World War II-era comedy, Grant took the role that had been nominated in the early 1940’s for an Academy Award. Grant’s 1966 remake was called Walk, Don’t Run in which he played a British industrialist, Sir William Rutland,

The music is by Quincy Jones including its main title, “Happy Feet.”

The story concerns three strangers—Sir William (Grant), American Olympic competitor Steve Davis (Jim Hutton), and a young single British expat Christine Easton (Samantha Eggar). Leading different lives they suddenly come together to share a cramped apartment in Tokyo during the busy 1964 Olympics. Grant personally selected Hutton and Eggar for their roles.

In the film, Christine, whose tiny apartment it is, would prefer a female roommate. She sublets to Sir William because he is pushy, charming and a fellow Brit in need. But he immediately sublets half of his portion to Hutton, making for three.

Comedy results from three outsized adults sharing an acutely small living space as they pursue as normally as possible their lives’ conflicting schedules. In Grant’s last film he intentionally worked it so he did not get the girl. Rather Sir William tries to get Christine, who is engaged to a boring British diplomat, to hook up with Hutton.

Walk, Don’t Run was one of Quincy Jones’s first big breaks. The 33-year-old Chicago-born Jones came to score the film after its star and Executive Producer, Cary Grant, recommended him for the job. Grant met him briefly through their mutual friend, singer Peggy Lee. From that meeting Grant felt Jones’ style would be perfect for the film and he made sure he was hired. Jones went on to enormous success as the composer of numerous film scores such as In the Heat of the Night in 1967 and The Color Purple in 1985 as well as the producer of successful pop rock recordings such as Michael Jackson’s bestselling albums, Off the Wall in 1979, Thriller in 1982, and Bad in 1987. Jones was executive producer of the 1985 global recording phenomenon, We Are The World. That collaborative recording project raised funds for victims in Ethiopia when one million people died in that country’s 1983–1985 famine. In 2013, Quincy Jones was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

After Grant returned from Asia and the baby was born, in private and public he was adament that Walk, Don’t Run—released in June 1966—was his last film. It proved to be true. Grant stated he would not make a film with his wife, Dyan Cannon, a talented actress whose career had just begun. Instead, Grant insisted Cannon should retire from acting and be a stay-at-home mother. Grant’s ideas were not welcome news to Dyan Cannon, 33 years her husband’s junior. Already in 1966 Cannon began to wonder if—following an exciting courtship and an age difference they barely mentioned—her marriage to Cary Grant was in trouble.


Best production— “Hollywood loses a legend”. Montreal Gazette. December 1, 1986. p. 1. 

That’s what’s important— McCann, Graham (1997). Cary Grant: A Class Apart. Columbia University Press, 1998.

Cuts off the oxygen—

Charade film locations—

Fastest million-dollar earner of the year and record for highest gross earnings in an initial theatrical release – “Million-$ Gross In 5 Weeks; ‘Mink’ A Radio City Wow”. Variety, July 18, 1962. p.1. and “B’way as Spotty as Weather; ‘Town’ Big $41,000, ‘Guns’ Only Okay $20,000, ‘Grimm’ Giant 59G, ‘Mink’ 151G, 10th” Variety, August 22, 1962. p.9.

Betsy Drake settlement – Eliot, Marc, Cary Grant A Biography, Harmony Books, NY 2004, p 337.

Last film and would not make a film with his wife— Ibid., p. 352.

Might be in trouble—Cannon, Dyan, Dear Cary: My Life with Cary Grant, 2011, p. 217 ff.


FEATURE image-Cary Grant by classic film scans is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

2-Cary Grant by classic film scans is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

3-Fair use.

4-Cary Grant by twm1340 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

5-CHARADE by Laurel L. Russwurm is marked with CC0 1.0.

6-Public domain published in a collective work i.e. periodical in the US between 1925 and 1977 and no Copyright.

7-Bond Films Openings Montage (Amalgamation) by avhell is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

8-Charade titles by Maurice Bender by Stewf is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

9-Charade_1963_Audrey_Hepburn_and_Cary_Grant public domain because it was published in the United States between 1925 and 1963 and although there may or may not have been a copyright notice, the copyright was not renewed.

10- Cary Grant, in Charade 1963 by Movie-Fan is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

11- Let’s continue this little Charade by Thiophene_Guy is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

12-Radio City Music Hall (2008) by jpellgen (@1179_jp) is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

13-Cary Grant by classic film scans is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

14-MM008600-39 by Florida Keys–Public Libraries is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

15- Cary Grant and Doris Day by classic film scans is licensed under CC BY 2.0,

16-1947 Bristol-born Hollywood film star Cary Grant alighting from Bristol Freighter G-AGVC at Los Angeles, 13 Jan 1947. by Gary Danvers is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

17- Walk, Don’t Run poster. Fair use.

18-Fair use.



That Touch of Mink
Cary Grant as Philip Shayne
Directed by Delbert Mann
Released June 14, 1962
Universal Pictures


Peter Joshua / Alexander Dyle / Adam Canfield / Brian Cruikshank
Directed by Stanley Donen
Released December 5,1963
Universal Pictures


Father Goose
Walter Christopher Eckland
Directed by Ralph Nelson
Released December 10, 1964
Universal Pictures


Walk, Don’t Run
Sir William Rutland
Charles Walters
Released June 29, 1966
Columbia Pictures

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