“I distinctly remember feeling tear-struck in 1986 when I learned of the death of Cary Grant, whom I’d always regarded as a beloved debonair uncle of sorts. I didn’t feel anything close to that when I heard the same news about my dad. The truth is the truth.” — from “Nobody’s Perfect,” an obit for my father, James Wells, who died on 6.19.08.
Grant, John Lennon, Marlon Brando and JFK — these are the only famous guys in my entire lifetime whose passing brought tears to my eyes.
In Los Angeles the news hit sometime around 10 pm on the evening of Saturday, 11.29.86. I was living in my Hightower Drive bungalow. I recall stepping outside and sitting down on my little front porch and meditating on finality as a general concept. The weepy moment came the following day. In a sense Grant had been a close companion almost my entire time on the planet, or at least from my teenage days onward, when I began watching some of his old films on the tube.
It was only a week or two later when I went down to Al’s Bar with a friend, and it was there that I ran into my future wife Maggie, who was hanging out with two girlfriends. We flew to Paris the following January, during a fairly brutal cold snap. We moved into the upstairs portion of 8682 Franklin Ave. the following August or thereabouts, and got married in Paris the following October.
Cary Grant, his wife Jennifer and Adler Theatre technician Jack Dexter, right about the time when symptoms from his stroke had been to hit, sometime in the late afternoon. From Scott Eyman’s “Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise: “It was not his first trip to Davenport. More than sixty years before, in September 1925, he’d been part of a vaudeville act called Robinson, Janis & Leach and had played at Davenport’s Columbia Theatre for four days.”