On Cary Grant's legendary stinginess

I love Cary Grant. Even the name has to be pronounced in full if you are to appreciate the elegance with which he was able to portray his character(s).

However, in recent discussions with my more biz-savvy friends, I discovered that apparently this guy was a legendary tight-ass, and “tight” doesn’t begin to describe it.
Here’s a guy who was apparently charging 15 cents in a local newspaper for getting autographs. WTF??? He was already a very wealthy actor. The studio would have taken care of his expenses. But even those guys didn’t know about it. At first they thought the thing was a hoax and called the authorities in (can’t have a famous movie icon’s rep besmurched), however in time they realized to thier disgust (yeah, think about it, movie producers) that it was all true. Good old Archibald was up to his old tricks again.
They also tell me that he regularly “stole” the costumes (namely suits) that the production studios “lent” him. You were expected to give those back but stocks of 'em just went missing when Archie was around. Also Marc (film buff) tells me they actually had to chain up some of the rolls of suits they had on those racks before the end of shooting, else our lovable rogue would have made off with them. I think he may be pulling my leg with this one.

Other stories I heard were that in one such movie (forgive me for the vagueness ICR which – blame that on me and not my sources) the studio thought it would be a good idea to try and set Cary up on a date with his opposite leading lady. Was she in for a treat. After they had finished thier meal, Cary charged the price of the meal to the studio’s account (as was his usual custom). But the account had dried up and the restaurant firmly held the money had to be paid there and then in some fashion. Cary simply refused to pay. This so disgusted his opposite number that in the end she had to fork over the money. Needless to say, they weren’t going for a candelight to Paris after that (if they did, Cary Grant certainly wasn’t gonna fund it).
Others include him marking his milk bottles (red tops), skapin his rent and general stingy-ness. The list’s too long to go into.

A friendly Google shows me that it’s not all entirely bull-crap either (the story 'bout the 25-cent-autographs seems to be valid). But I can’t find much specific info on details regarding his stinginess. I want corroborated evidence people. I wanna get to the bottom of this.
The only thing else I can say is I think it strikes me as kinda annoying. Partly because I think unlike many stars of today, Cary Grant was known for being… well, Cary Grant. He was the cool, smooth operator that the audience wanted him to be, and he played up to the part really well.

Now whenever I see him in Notorious (one of my fave films BTW) or The Philadelphia Story, I can’t help but burst into fits of laughter. It really pisses me off.

Remember that Archibald was typical of a large number of people who became famous in show business. He started off in poverty, had a mother who was institutionalized but he thought was dead, dropped out of school to hang around vaudeville theaters and led the most precarious and poverty-stricken life for a dozen years before finally getting a real break in movies.

That group dominated Hollywood in the Depression 30s and tended to fall into one of two clusters: either they were legendarily tight-fisted (e.g. Groucho Marx) or they threw it around like Monopoly money (e.g. Chico Marx). I don’t consider the second group’s response to be any different (more admirable, morally superior, etc.) than the first.

It would be nice to think that these people with no education and street upbringings would be sensible with money when they suddenly became impossibly rich and famous but it’s also totally unrealistic.

I have no information here but…regardless of who Cary Grant was, I believe Archie Leach grew up poor (I believe, I could be mistaken). And that might have a lot to do with what Cary Grant did.

And on the other hand, he was the only one of heiress Barbara Huttons many husbands who did not seek alimony upon their divorce - even though the press referred to them as “Cash and Cary”.


It occurs to me that if my employer assigns me to take a fellow employee out to dinner, I am to be forgiven if I assume that my employer is to be held responsible for the tab.

This certificate entitles the bearer to an unlimited number of brownie points with one of this forum’s moderators. :stuck_out_tongue:

As in Dex?

I don’t think it was expected of him to pay. As I mentioned usually it would be the studio who would pick up the tab. But in the absence of funds, the classy choice would have been to pay up and then extract said money from the studio at a later date. Not throw a hissy fit and point blank refuse to pay.

Point taken.

Oh, also from here

Cary says:

He was resourceful, I’ll give him that much.

I say cut him some slack since he was, after all, Cary Grant. That and he could be very generous and forgiving:

The first time he met Audrey Hepburn before filming Charade, she had him over for dinner, and was so nervous she spilled red wine all over his WHITE suit. She was mortified-he thought it was funny.

I also heard that when his daughter Jennifer was born, he presented his wife, Dyan Cannon with a diamond bracelet worth 5,000 dollars.
When his daughter, Jennifer, was born,

According to IDMB:

-he donated his entire salary from The Philadelphia Story to the British war effort. His entire salary for Arsenic and Old Lace he gave to the U.S. War Relief Fund.

-he stayed close to Barbara Hutton’s son even after his divorce from the boy’s mother, and referred to the young man as his son.

D’oh, cross out that extra “when his daughter, Jennifer was born.”

Dammit. :smack:

Maybe he had some sympathy for the cheapness of the studio bosses. Having come from a similar background (at least economically), he might not have wanted to sock them with the dinner check. Just a thought…

I agree with ol’ Archie on the button thing. I always cut off the buttons on clothes I’m throwing into the rag bag. Sometimes they come in handy as replacements. I can’t always find matching buttons in the store.

Practical is stingy?

What does it mean to mark one’s milk bottles, and how does it save you money?

Nobody brings milk to my door. :mad:

Like friedo, I want to know what this means. I’ve never heard the phrase.

Mee too.

You make a grease-pencil mark on the level of the milk, to see if anyone else is drinking it. Of course, smart servants have a duplicate grease-pencil . . .

wonder if it’s the same as with spirits - marking off the level so’s you can tell if the kids have been been stealing a nip.

A little google fu turned up this article :

On preview, I see the other answers… but at least Mr. Grant didn’t resort to using the tampon trick with his milk. :wink: