Friday, May 6, 2011

Bunker Mentality

I saw an interesting story about Cary Grant on CBS Sunday Morning on Sunday morning, and they shared the old one about the time Cary Grant showed up without a ticket for some sort of Hollywood gala.  Without looking at him, the lady taking tickets said, "Who are you?" and the Sultan of Suave, the Cardinal of Cool, the High Priest of Handsome said, "I'm Cary Grant."  And the ticket lady looked up and said, "You don't look like Cary Grant," and the √úbermensch of Urbanity replied, "No one does."

And they didn't tell the one  - and try to stop me if you've heard it before - where a reporter on deadline, writing a story about the Dean of Dapper, sent a telegram to his agent asking, "HOW OLD CARY GRANT?"  And Grant himself got the wire and sent a reply: "OLD CARY GRANT JUST FINE. HOW YOU?"

We know that Cary Grant was born Archibald Leach in England and that he took his stage name by looking for names that started with a 'C' and a 'G' because that combination had been lucky for Clark Gable and Gary Cooper.  (Not so much for Charles Grodin, but it also worked great for George Clooney and Curious George!) It wouldn't have lessened his total coolness by one whit had he gone into the movies with the name Archie Leach, would it?

Sammy's famous scene
Archie Bunker: that would not have been as cool, but then again the laughable lug from "All In The Family" was saying goofy flamethrowing things 40 years ago that today sound a lot like a certain party's leading presidential candidates, if you catch my drift.  Did you know that when Norman Lear and his writers were crafting the role of Archie Bunker for Carroll O'Connor, they settled on the surname Bunker because of its connotations with hunkering down in the bunker of long-held specious theories, and then they planned to call him "Wally" Bunker because that name sounded so typical of a New York kinda guy.  No sports fans, they.  But just before they started shooting the pilot for the series, someone pointed out that the Orioles had a pretty good right-handed pitcher by the name of Wally Bunker, a flamethrower whose career peaked with a win in the '66 World Series over the Dodgers.

Cary Grant, Archie Bunker, Wally Bunker.  Three men with nothing in common, and yet, here I am writing about them. 

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