LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - It was a fairy tale romance that turned in to a stormy marriage, and now Dyan Cannon has chronicled her relationship with Hollywood legend Cary Grant in her new book, “Dear Cary: My Life with Cary Grant.”
With an age difference of over 30 years, the duo had a magical courtship in the 1960s that eventually gave way to the dark side of Grant after they were engaged. Following three years of marriage and not long after the birth of their daughter Jennifer, the couple divorced and Cannon suffered a nervous breakdown.
Cannon, now in her early 70s, sat down with Reuters to talk about her former late husband and what she’s learned about love over the years.
Q: Why focus the book just on your years with Cary?
A: “I’ve been offered so much money over the years to write a kiss and tell, which this is not. I wanted this to be a helpful book, an inspirational book. It’s really about the little things that happen in our relationships that tear us asunder, so I felt people would benefit from most of this.”
Q: Is there an underlying message you wanted to relay?
A: “One of the biggest messages is that it is wonderful to love and to serve and to give. It’s wonderful to try and make people happy, but it’s impossible to do so.”
Q: What was the biggest challenge in writing this book?
A: “I know how people feel about Cary — they love him. I didn’t want people to lose the stars in their eyes about him. I wanted people to love him more at the end of this book than they did before. This book humanizes him. They’ll understand what formed him. And I had such compassion for what formed him. But I also suffered a breakdown. So balancing all that was my biggest challenge.”
Q: There must have been a lot of stories to sort through.
A: “I didn’t know what to put in and what to leave out. The first (draft) was so out of balance. The second time around it started to take shape. The third time I thought, ‘Maybe I’ve got it now.’”
Q: Cary was a big proponent of LSD use and wanted you to do it with him. But for you it was a disastrous experience. Do you think Cary had a drug problem?
A: “Absolutely not. With specificity, no. He thought LSD was his gateway to God, to peace, to that turmoil that wouldn’t leave him alone. He thought it helped him, but I don’t think it did. If it did, it gave him a peace that enabled him without being tormented 24 hours a day.”
Q: Were you able to have a friendship after the divorce?
A: “We were polite.”
Q: Was it hard getting your career back on track afterward? Did studio executives have to choose sides?
A: “Maybe some people for a moment. But Mike Frankovich was a good friend of Cary’s. He was the head of Columbia Pictures and he chose me for ‘Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice’ (which earned Cannon an Oscar nomination). So no, not really.”
Q: When Cary passed away in 1986 at the age of 82, did that affect you at all?
A: “I was amazed at how I mourned him. I couldn’t believe how hammered I was by his death, how deeply I felt his loss. I loved him so dearly, but some of that love had to get pushed down through all the pain.”
Q: Was he the greatest love of your life?
A: “I’ve known a lot of wonderful men. I’ve known a couple of jerks. And I think the best is yet to come (laughs). I do. Because I understand love now. That’s why I can say I’m a whole, satisfied, complete woman. But up to now, I’ve certainly had no experience with anybody like I had with Cary. I loved him and he loved me. I was the only woman in the world that he trusted enough to have a baby with. That’s a big deal to me.”
Q: Your daughter, Jennifer, has a three year-old son, Cary Benjamin. Do you see traits of Cary in her or in little Cary?
A: “More with the grandchild. There’s traits in Jennifer that remind me of Cary — wonderful traits. But the little guy, he’s something else!.”
Q: Will you write another book to encompass all the other aspects of your life?
A: “I’m not sure about writing another book. I’ve had offers but writing a book is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’d like to write and perform a one-woman show with other people as a part of it. I’ve talked to a friend of mine, we’re contemplating it and I’ve made a lot of notes. But as far as a second book about my career and things that happened to me? I’m not motivated to do that.”
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte