- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 29, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Farley Granger, the 1950s bobby sox screen idol who starred in the Alfred Hitchcock classics “Rope” and “Strangers on a Train,” has died. He was 85.

Granger died Sunday of natural causes, said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner’s office.

Granger, who died at his Manhattan home, was an overnight Hollywood success story. He was a 16-year-old student at North Hollywood High School when he got the notion that he wanted to act and joined a little theater group.

Talent scouts for movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn saw the handsome youngster and signed him to a contract. His first movie was “The North Star” in 1943, a World War II story that starred Anne Baxter and Dana Andrews.

“It was one of those miracle careers,” he said. “I had no talent and no training whatsoever and suddenly I was thrown … (in) with Walter Huston, Erich von Stroheim, Anne Baxter, Ann Harding and Walter Brennan.”

A decade later, at the height of his Hollywood stardom, he walked away from it to really learn his craft. He spent the rest of his career in a mix of movies, television and stage work.

Granger was born on July 1, 1925, in San Jose, Calif., where his father was a car dealer. The business went bust during the Depression and in 1933 the family moved to Los Angeles where he was subsequently spotted.

His career halted for U.S. Navy service during World War II _ “I was chronically seasick.” But when he was mustered out he returned to Hollywood and the Goldwyn publicity machine.

Goldwyn firmly believed in big hype and hoopla for his stars, so he’d publicize me in projects that were never even written just to get space in the fan magazines,” Granger once recalled.

The magazines ran pictures of Granger in swim trunks cavorting with such stars as Debbie Reynolds, Ann Blyth and Jane Powell. But he said the only serious romance he had with a woman was with Shelley Winters.

In the 2007 memoir “Include Me Out,” written with his partner Robert Calhoun, Granger says he was bisexual.

He writes about a Honolulu night that epitomized his life. A 21-year-old virgin and wartime Navy recruit, he was determined to change his status. He did so with a young and lovely female prostitute. He was about to leave the premises when he ran into a handsome Navy officer. Granger was soon in bed again.

“I lost my virginity twice in one night,” he writes.

His lifelong romance with Winters was “very much a love affair.”

“It evolved into a very complex relationship, and we were close until the day she died,” he said in a 2007 interview with The Associated Press.

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