: I was a so-called star because of my limitations and that was always the case. I couldn't do any accents. So I had to pretend. Luckily I was tall, had curly hair and a good voice.
Jo (as he was known) and his brothers Whit and Sam spent their summers at their aunt and uncle's home at Virginia Beach. And there and at an early age he discovered a passion for story-telling, reciting, and performing acts for his family.
Cotten studied acting at the Hickman School of Expression in Washington, D.C. and worked as an advertising agent afterward. But by 1924 tried to enter acting in New York. His money opportunities were limited to shipping clerk, and after a year of attempting stage work, he left with friends, heading for Miami.
There he found a variety of jobs: lifeguard, salesman, a stint as entrepreneur -- making and selling 'Tip Top Potato Salad' - but more significantly, drama critic for the Miami Herald. That evidently led to appearance in plays at the Miami Civic Theatre.
Cotten was cast as C.K. Dexter Haven in the original 1939 Broadway production of Philip Barry's play Philadelphia StoryZ with Katharine Hepburn. When Hepburn, who owned the rights, sold the story to MGM, Cary Grant was cast in the part.
Quote from Cotton; "My wife told me one of the sweetest things one could hear: "I am not jealous. But I am truly sad for all the actresses who embrace you and kiss you while acting, for with them, you are only pretending".