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Randolph Scott and Cary Grant: Gay Lovers?

Cary Grant Randolph Scott Gay LoversRandolph Scott and Cary Grant: Gay lovers or good friends and roommates? (image: Cary Grant and Randolph Scott ca. 1933.)

(See previous post: “Randolph Scott Movies: From Westerns to Cary Grant Comedy.”) Now, one suggestion: Do not believe those rumors about Randolph Scott and Cary Grant having been gay lovers. Anything is possible, of course, but there's no credible evidence indicating that the two actors were more than good friends / roommates who had first met on the set of the Nancy Carroll star vehicle Hot Saturday in 1932. (See also: “TCM Movie Lineup: Randolph Scott Westerns.”)

But what about all those pictures showing Randolph Scott and Cary Grant cozying up at the house they shared in the posh Los Feliz Hills? Well, those were publicity photos, taken at a time when both actors were up-and-coming Paramount contract players. Rooming up likely gave them a chance to afford renting a house that otherwise would have remained beyond their means.

Also, bear in mind that those photos were carefully posed and arranged so they could be disseminated to fan magazines, which chiefly catered to women. In other words, they were not candid shots of Life with Randolph and Cary. And it's worth remembering that there was nothing unusual about that sort of “upscale” male-buddy setup back in those days.

Mary Brian on the alleged Randolph Scott and Cary Grant gay affair: 'People misinterpret a lot of things'

Mary Brian (Peter Pan, The Royal Family of Broadway) would remember visiting in the mid-to-late '30s the equally well-known Randolph Scott and Cary Grant Santa Monica beach house, which they rented from silent era superstar Norma Talmadge.* By that time, Grant had become a top star at Columbia and RKO, while Scott remained a “leading man,” working chiefly at 20th Century Fox and Universal. Nicknamed by publicists “Bachelor Hall,” the beach house not only was huge, thus providing Scott and Grant with their own private quarters, but it was also frequently packed with guests.

In Silent Players, film historian and Mary Brian friend Anthony Slide explains that Brian and Cary Grant, her co-star in the British-made The Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss (1936), “began a serious relationship that might well have ended in matrimony.” Slide quotes Mary Brian as saying the following:

We had a misunderstanding after about a year-and-a-half or two. We were going to get married. I'm kind of independent. I guess it could have been smoothed over, but I got on a plane and went to New York and signed up for a show. A lot of time went by. He was frugal, but I understand that because I am sort of a child of the Depression. He came from a poor background. But I never found him stingy. Could he have been bisexual? I don't think so.

Regarding the alleged gay relationship between Randolph Scott and Cary Grant, and the fact that they shared the Santa Monica beach house, Mary Brian added:

I don't think that means anything. [Cary Grant] would pick me up at Toluca Lake, take me down to the beach house on Sunday. He was working the rest of the time. And there were always people at the beach house. People misinterpret a lot of things. If I say this, it sounds conniving and I don't mean it that way, but Cary kind of invented himself in a way…. I don't think he was [gay or bisexual] – not in my experience. I know it's been rumored, but I've never believed it.

Unless someone uncovers credible evidence pointing in the “gay lovers” direction, take those “Randolph Scott and Cary Grant love affair” stories with a boulder of salt.

* According to one online source, Wuthering Heights' Merle Oberon rented Norma Talmadge's Santa Monica beach house (1038 Palisades Beach Road) for several months in the late '30s. However, Graham McCann states in Cary Grant: A Life Apart that Randolph Scott and Cary Grant rented the Talmadge House from late 1935 to 1942 (which includes the three-year period Scott was married to Mariana duPont Somerville). It could possibly be that Merle Oberon lived there later on, as a news source from 1946 says the actress was then living at an unspecified Santa Monica beach house.

According to several online sources, among the other Talmadge House residents throughout the years were Irving Berlin, Howard Hughes, Grace Kelly, and Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate.

[“Randolph Scott and Cary Grant: Gay Lovers?” continues on the next page. See link below.]

Thanks to Ellen Kearns Asleson for reminding me of the Mary Brian quotes about the alleged Randolph Scott and Cary Grant gay affair. Those are found in Anthony Slide's Silent Players. Also, Tony Slide sent me via email the second half of Mary Brian's quote that begins with “If I say this…”

Randolph Scott and Cary Grant photo: studio publicity from the mid-'30s.

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9 Comments to Randolph Scott and Cary Grant: Gay Lovers?

  1. Kathleen Hartman

    My father was a character actor in Hollywood for over 40 years. He never became well known but he knew a good many actors and actresses both gay and straight and appeared in many films and TV
    shows with many of them. I never once heard him discuss Scott or Grant in a derogatory manner. And I believe he would have known. In spite of everything I have read about both men, I am still not convinced. Unless someone came forward and stated “I was in the room at the time.” I still believe that both men were straight. But let's face facts. Who, with the exception of the participants, cares?

  2. Greg Klebanoff

    Barring the discovery of personal journals, letters between Grant and Scott, or something of a like nature the question is likely to remain open. But regarding those who think speculation about the possibility that Grant and Scott were lovers ought to be off limits, I disagree. Though Grant was notoriously private about his personal life, he chose the most public of careers and, moreover, lived in the same house with Scott for over 11 years. It's only natural for people to suspect that they may have been more than just good friends. I for one find nothing inappropriate about exploring the possibility. Further, those who think such speculation is taboo are almost certainly laboring under the belief that homosexuality is somehow a bad or shameful thing, and therefore an inappropriate subject to allege or even guess about in the absence of ironclad evidence. Surely such an attitude bespeaks of an outdated bigotry that ought to be beneath us in the second decade of the 21st century.

    I have read several articles exploring both sides of the issue, but am aware of no significant evidence that hasn't already been discussed. Based, however, on the evidence I have seen, I strongly suspect the two probably were lovers. I find the possibility (I think even probability) that they were an interesting piece of American history. I have always harbored great respect for both actors and the fact that they may have been gay or bisexual doesn't diminish my esteem of them in the least.

  3. Dottice

    Thanks for the information. Cary Grant was one of my favorite actors.

  4. Paul

    Interesting story

  5. Peter Radcliff

    Andre, thank you for these articles.

    I don't care about anyone's sexuality and am open to any interpretation of situations. However, I pay no attention to any gossip after someone's death. It's cheap exploitation and nothing more.

    People believe what they want to believe, and some people are only interested in gossip. Legally the defense against libel is the truth. If these things are all true, why weren't they published during the person's life? Afraid of a lawsuit? Why, if they are true allegations?

    Anything that transpired 80 years ago is going to have been exaggerated so much by the time we get to 2015 that there is no way to tell what the original story was. I encourage people to take a look at this excellent dissection of a Clark Gable rumor where the researchers went back to the original source. You'll be shocked.


  6. Randi Hutchinson

    Can't say I have any proof one way or the other, but my father and Randolph Scott were very good friends for many years - and my father was a hard-drinking, fun-toting, card-playing macho guy. Scott was also godfather to all three of my Dad's children.

  7. Laurie

    I don't know why so many people concentrate on someone else's sex life. As an actor, a musician, an athelete, or anyone else, what does it matter what their sexual orientation is? Too much emphasis is put on this part of a person's life. Does being homosexual versus heterosexual mean anything about how a person lives their life and does that part of their life tell what kind of human being they are? Isn't it much more important to know if a person is kind hearted, honest, hard working, and compassionate. Doesn't this concept mean more? As a whole, everyone should stop worrying about a person 's private matters and be most kind to the persons whom possess these wonderful traits. I think the media should take these ideas to heart and leave celebrities to live their private lives in privacy. Imagine that concept!!!

  8. I suppose that Grant's sexual proclivities depended on who you talk to. The fact is, an individual's private life is their private life, and should never be abridged. Isn't it enough that we were blessed by this man's elegance and talent, and with the miracle of film, still continue to be? In this day and age, an actor coming out of the closet doesn't raise an eyebrow. But in earlier days, such a public pronouncement could ruin a career forever. A man's character shouldn't be based upon delving into their love life, anymore than what kind of shoes they wear. Such trivialities are the fodder of the small minded, and in the fullness of time, mean nothing.

  9. Hillster

    Cary Grant lived with openly gay set and costume designer Orry-Kelly a few years before he and Randolf became lovers. Mr Blackwell, the notorious fashion critic, lived with Cary and Randolph for several months. In his memoir he said that he considered them, “deeply, madly in love, their devotion complete…Behind closed doors they were warm, kind, loving and caring, and unembarrassed about showing it.”
    For more evidence check out this article on Homo History: