The actor Farley Granger, most famous for his roles in Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train and Rope, has died of natural causes at the age of 85 in New York.
In the 1951 thriller Strangers on a Train, Granger starred alongside Robert Walker as a nice guy tennis player who becomes embroiled in a reciprocal murder scheme. In Rope, released three years earlier, he starred as one of two students of a dubious professor, played by James Stewart, who are persuaded to carry out an elaborate homicide.
Granger also had an important Italian connection. In 1953 he was determined to move to Manhattan to study acting and perform on stage, but his agent convinced him to accept a role in Senso, directed by Luchino Visconti and co-starring Alida Valli. Filming in Italy lasted nine months, although Granger frequently was idle during this period, allowing him free time to explore Italy and even spend a long weekend in Paris, where he had a brief affair with Jean Marais. During his time in Venice, Granger renewed his friendship with Peggy Guggenheim, whom he had met during his earlier trip to Italy with Arthur Laurents, and he met Mike Todd, who cajoled him into making a cameo appearance as a gondolier in his epic Around the World in 80 Days. He finally returned to Hollywood exhausted but happy about the experience.
In his frank 2007 memoir, “Count Me Out,” co-authored with his longtime partner Robert Calhoun, Granger named names of his famous lovers, who he said included actresses Ava Gardner and Shelley Winters as well as conductor Leonard Bernstein – for two nights – and writer Arthur Laurents.
“He was a very handsome and beloved film star who always did exactly what he wanted to do, which was a little bit of everything,” Calhoun’s sister Linda Pleven told the Daily News.
Robert Calhoun, with whom he had been in a relationship since 1963, died three years ago.
Photo: Alida Valli and Farley Granger in Visconti’s Senso
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.