Cary Grant

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Last year, Tink finally, after several years of being asked, succumbed and agreed to speak at a yearly prayer breakfast held at the Beverly Hills Hotel for Christians who are in the television and movie industry.

It is held at the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel because a large auditorium or stadium is not needed. The group of Christians in the industry — particularly those bold enough to admit it — is rather small.

He accepted without telling me which brought me to a childish whine and foot stomping when he told me.

“Oh, Tink, I have a speaking engagement in Wilmington, North Carolina, that day. It’s been booked for a year. There’s no way I can go with you and I want to.”

My husband is clever. He has an identical calendar of my schedule so he knew that when he accepted it. He also, as he will readily admit, dislikes speaking in public and he particularly does not want to speak publicly in front of his wife who does it for a living.

“You did this on purpose,” I accused. “You knew I couldn’t go.”

At first, he denied it. Then, gradually, he admitted, “It’s hard for me to speak in front of people but it would be harder with you there. It’s so easy for you.”

Thus, off to the rural countryside near Wilmington I went and off to Beverly Hills went Tink. He knew many in the audience but some he did not know. Graciously, many formed a line, after the event, to compliment and thank him.

It was no surprise to learn that the first in line was Pat Boone, a man whose evangelical faith is of such legendary proportion that he is known for baptizing the newly-converted in the swimming pool outside his Beverly Hills home (at almost five acres, it is the largest lot in Beverly Hills). It is even whispered that one of the converted he baptized there was folk singer Bob Dylan.

When Tink mentioned he had met Dyan Cannon, a 1970s actress and one of the decade’s bombshells, my heart fell. I couldn’t believe that I had missed the opportunity to meet Cary Grant’s ex-wife and the mother of his only child, Jennifer.

“You met Dyan Cannon?” You could hear the tears in my voice. “Oh, Tink.”

“She was very nice and she waited a bit to speak to me.”

The Golden Age of Hollywood is my favorite. I love to know where Jack Benny, James Stewart, and Lucille Ball lived. Many of their houses are gone but a few, like Robert Mitchum’s, still remain.

I love to walk the streets on the lots of MGM (now Sony), Warner Brothers, Fox, and Universal and see proper homage paid to the stars, mostly forgotten by today’s world, like Myrna Loy, Clark Gable, Shirley Temple, Bette Davis, and others who have streets and buildings named after them.

Several months after Tink’s Los Angeles engagement, I ran across a book called “Dear Cary” written by Dyan Cannon. As I read it, my heart saddened deeper that I had missed my opportunity to meet her. She was an innocent young woman who clung to her innocence while being pursued by the “most beautiful man I had ever seen.” He was diligent in his pursuit but always a gentleman.

Always a gentleman.

His manners were as impeccable off-screen as they were on-screen. Back then, he was king of gentlemanly manners but certainly not a rarity that he would be today.

My friend, whom I call Poet, from the Mississippi Delta, possesses many of what is, sadly, obsolete manners. He rises when a woman enters the room and opens her door. Tink beautifully does the same.

It is lovely, civilized, and makes every woman wish our society was still so kind and gentle.

We don’t need more curmudgeons, public arguments, or distasteful public showdowns.

Cary Grant. That’s what we need more of.

[Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of “There’s A Better Day A-Comin’.” Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her free weekly newsletter.]