The Cary Grant Story
Paula was working at the Universal-International Pictures offices in New York in 1962. She heard through their grapevine that Cary Grant was looking for a new ingénue. An Audrey Hepburn type. Paula was only 19, with limited acting experience but she was plucky. She had some “arty” portraits taken that made her look a lot older than 19 and sent them off through channels. Lo and behold Cary Grant’s people contacted Paula to inform her that Cary would like to meet her.
Paula was between apartments and was living with her mother in Forest Hills. It became the talk of the neighborhood— little Paula Best was going to be Gary Grant's new protégé.
Paula’s mother, Leona, owned a children's and teenager's clothing store. She brought home what she thought would be the perfect dress for Paula to wear to the meeting. Paula always looked younger than her years but the dress made her look around 15.
Paula arrived at the The Sherry-Netherland Hotel and was escorted to Cary’s room. The door opened to a view of a man in sartorial splendor— tan, broad white smile, impeccably groomed with not a silver hair out of place. He wore a blue blazer, starched shirt with an ascot, crisp creased white pants, thin socks and black leather loafers.
Paula knew immediately from the look on Cary’s face that this was not the girl he saw in the photographs. But he was kind to Paula and gave her acting and career advise over a gin and tonic. Paula could hear her knees knocking under the table. After a good half hour he led Paula to the door and told her not to give up on her dreams.
Paula floated down the hall and joined the throng on the street and took the subway back to Queens.