Randolph Scott and Cary Grant: Gay lovers or good friends and roommates?
(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.
[“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.