I have been doing genealogical research on my paternal grandmother. I found a set of papers that I must have inherited many years ago, although I don’t remember seeing them before. Among them was this image of Cary Grant in Once Upon a Honeymoon, a 1942 film. My grandmother, going under the stage name of Claudine LeDuc is the desk clerk. The only other image of her from that era is as an extra in the 1943 movie Song of Bernadette.
Although she was never honest about her age, I have learned that she was born in 1881 in Paris. It was actually quite a relief to learn that she was 88, not 73, when she died, since I am 73. That means she went to California to “make it big in the pictures” when she was 60. It was not an ideal time to start her career. Nonetheless she always was proud of herself as an actress and I had no idea that she had only these two small roles.
She is also responsible for the 29% of my DNA that is Ashkenanzi Jewish. I didn’t learn that from her, however. She was anti-Semitic, probably a good defense during the time Hitler’s reach was unpredictable and his ability to round up Jewish people was predictable.
I doubt she would be pleased at my research and what it has uncovered. She wanted to carefully curate her persona and could have preserved it forever if not for the internet. But I am glad to know the truth, some of it sordid, some of it pleasurable(who wouldn’t want to stand next to Cary Grant?) I am only here because of her. Her DNA runs through my veins. And one of my descendants is an actress.