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Cary Grant A Biography At long last comes the first full length definitive biography of one of Hollywood's most enduring and fascinating luminaries containing never before published materials on the actor's private life Newly discovered details reveal everything from his troubled childhood to his ambiguous sexuality to his experimenting with LSD Includes a 16 page photo insert 1 40005 026 X2595 Random House

10 thoughts on “Cary Grant A Biography

  1. Cristina Cristina says:

    As a long time Cary Grant fan I am perhaps biased to enjoy anything related to the actor This being said I approached Marc Eliot's biography with great excitement and hope and was left with my feelings drastically dashed to bits upon the floorEliot's biography of Grant is very narrow minded gossipy and tediously obsessed with the details of Grant's supposed bisexuality Although the actor's sexual orientation is of little interest to a fan of the movie star and Hollywood legends in general Eliot acts as if Grant's orientation is the governing motive of everything in Grant's life Instead of receiving a well rounded fascinating and complexly engaging portrait of Grant as other books offer we find this biography being the slightly higher literary calibered version of a trashy tabloid we may find at the supermarket check out The glimpses we have of Grant's films and early life and career are refreshing escapes from the otherwise tediousness of this book Biographers owe it to readers to portray their subject according to facts not according to a thesis People are not to become specimens to pick apart and try to reassemble but rather to explain just as they are fully assembled and in tact The picking apart should happen naturally without having to dismember and mutilate a persona's various complexities and facets In all fairness Eliot's Jimmy Stewart A Biography is much better written than the Grant one but perhaps the author learned a lesson or two after writing on Stewart's contemporary and The Philadelphia Story co starFor a superior biography on Cary Grant look to Nancy Nelson's Evenings with Cary Grant Nelson was a personal friend and biographer of Grant and his family and hers is the only book endorsed by them as well Nelson unlike Eliot is able to paint a portrait of Grant that is not nuanced but raw and real and yet still manages to engage us and draw our admiration Why? Because Grant perfect or not had charisma and grace even in his faults He took responsibility and was reflective and intelligent right up to the very end Eliot's biography in the end never captures this crucial point like Nelson's work

  2. Carla Remy Carla Remy says:

    It's a well written book I shouldn't only give it three stars but I just wasn't very focused on it Archie Leach didn't change his name to Cary Grant until 1932 when he was 27 or 8 He wasn't an unlikable man but he was very reserved

  3. Mikey B. Mikey B. says:

    Marvelous Book on Marvelous ActorAn in depth look at this great actor Eliot examines Grant Archie Leach from his early years right thru to his death in Iowa while touring at the age of 82 Grant started in vaudeville in Bristol England and his company came to the US to perform on Broadway in the early '20's After that Grant essentially made the rest of his career in the US Hollywood Eliot discusses Grant's relationship with other men like Randolph Scott with whom he lived with for many years While Hollywood tolerated this liaison in private it also put great pressure on its' star actors to heterosexualize and marry it would publicize any heterosexual event the actors were seen at Hollywood publicists would set up available actors with members of the opposite sex and rev up the publicity Grant was victimized by this machine several times as his several marriages can attest to Bearing Tom Cruise and others in mind is it any different today? Eliot also discusses Grant's several wives and Grant's relationship with Hitchcock It was director Hitchcock who probably brought out the full range of Grant's performance on the screen Cary Grant on screen makes acting look so easy but when you examine any scene he is in his is the dominating personality the actors and montage revolved around him If you are interested in film and actors of 50's 60's era of film black and white and of Cary Grant in particular you will be interested in this book

  4. Michelle Michelle says:

    Biographers have to be many things; first and foremost is of course a writer but also a journalist a storyteller a scientist They must wade through all the primary and secondary sources testing for veracity and reliability uestioning motivations determining relevance A great many facts accumulate about an individual within their lifetime a biographer must determine which facts add up to the truth The biographer must then take these two dimensional accounts and photographs dusty with time and bring the past to life It is impossible to be completely objective but a biographer should attempt to prevent their biases from obscuring the truth As a reader of biographies one must grant the biographer a certain amount of trust What do we read biographies for if not to learn new things about people who lived lives uite different from our own? We want to be surprised intrigued entertained We should not however completely suspend disbelief Biographies are not fiction and at some point a biographer must earn the readers' continued belief in the narrative they have created Marc Eliot has completely lost my trust Within the first chapter I am already hesitant to follow Eliot on his journey When describing Grant's acceptance of the 1970 Honorary Oscar for his lifetime of achievement Eliot starts getting facts publically verifiable youtube able facts wrong He uotes Sinatra praising Cary Grant for the 'sheer brilliance of his acting that makes it all look easy' Which to be fair is essentially what Sinatra meant but never what he actually said Nor does Grant slip on his thick rimmed black glasses p 17 18 Small errors one might say but the book is peppered with them He messes up basic plot points in Grant's films ones of which he has supposedly had repeated viewings p 422 See what I did there Eliot? That's called citing a source The small errors give way to larger inaccuracies On page 242 Eliot says of Grant and Irene Selznick Grant and Selznick had been friends since his theatrical days in New York City when he was an actor and she was a producer except that well Selznick was just a kid when Grant was in NYC She didn't become a producer until after her divorce her first play was A Street Car Named Desire which would be 1947 three years after the meeting Eliot is describing It is little wonder then that as a reader I have trouble following Eliot when he leaves the realm of relatively well know information and journeys into the murky world of supposition a world created entirely out of a lack of information and Eliot's own wishes Eliot completely turns on its head the entire accepted nature of Grant's relationship with first wife Virginia Cherrill From p 82 Most accounts of the relationship between Cary Grant and Virgina Cherrill depict him as the victim of a young and cold beauty emboldened by fierce ambition a calculating Hollywood wannabe whomanaged to sleep her way to the forgettable middle But personal recollections of friends who knew her for most of her life and the private diaries she left behind reveal a far different and hitherto unknown side to the woman who was to become the first Mrs Cary Grant All of this after explaining his utter lack of primary source interviews with As a biographer I probably put less stock than others in firsthand 'eyewitness' recollections of those who knew or claim to have known Cary Grantthey I have painfully discovered in my career shared an unfortunate but prevalent tendency to either rewrite history for the sake of the departed or elevate their own position in his sagap 422 So let me get this straight he won't use interviews from Grant's daughter friends or three living wives because they might lie to make themselves or Grant look better Yet he will trust the friends and the diary of the one wife with whom Grant did not remain amicable to paint an accurate picture of Grant? Right Unfortunately Eliot's departures from reality do not end here After spending three chapters enumerating all the reasons the major studios would have to discredit and dislike Grant while simultaneously outlining exactly how the studios controlled all of the gossip magazines at the time Eliot then goes on to create a narrative describing Grant as an indecisive weak easily controlled man whose every life choice was informed by his homosexuality He supports this with little else but Cherrill's diary the gossip rags and the fact that Grant occasionally lived with other men while single as many single stars at the time did I could have even accepted this as a reader had he simply made his claims then supported them by giving us an example of a source a single article or diary entry would have done But he does neither Rather he goes on to provide a sort of pop psychoanalysis of what he thinks each man was thinking and feeling during numerous COMPLETELY HYPOTHETICAL situations ex on p 135 Throughout the book each new person affiliated with Grant in any way is first introduced to us by whether or not Grant slept with them or merely had a chaste crush on them One such chaste crush is supposedly Phyllis Brooks Grant's longest standing relationship with a woman whom he did not marry Eliot basically spends Chapter 12 ignoring all know information about their relationship restructuring it in such a way that Grant's life continues to follow Eliot's chosen narrative Eliot even creates suicide attempts out of a lack of hospital records despite the fact that no other biographer gave any credence to this idea p113 It is at this point that I continued to read the book merely to finish not to be informedIt is sad really Eliot could be an excellent biographer When he is constrained by ample information he brings the past vibrantly to the present I thoroughly enjoyed Eliot's description of Grant's life during the making of The Awful Truth in Chapter 13 It hit just the right note of accepted historical facts informed hindsight and deductions about details extrapolated from what we know I wish I could have read that biography Instead I got a modern day Procopius' The Secret History You just can't rewrite someone else's life to suit your needs LONG NOTE NOT REALLY A SPOILERview spoilerI think it would have been perfectly acceptable for Eliot to include the possibility of Grant being homosexual or bisexual and describing the reasons he considers the possibility to be a valid one while also acknowledging the reasons most people do not I really don't care if Cary Grant was bisexual and had homosexual relationships with both Randolph Scott and Orry Kelly What I do care about however is that every person who was in a position to know if this was true including the men themselves adamantly denies it Orry Kelly was a good friend of both Grant and Scott and openly homosexual I don't really see why he would lie Unfortunately because of Eliot's biography articles on websites such as wikipedia now have a reliable source to validate what has been nothing than gossip for over half a century In fact the only sources that do corroborate this claim are Eliot's two 2004 Grant biographies a 1995 autobiography by Richard Blackwell From Rags to Bitches where he claimed to be a lover of both Grant and Scott and the autobiographies of Boze Hadleigh Both Blackwell and Hadleigh's accounts are often dismissed as false for a plethora of reasons Blackwell was not old enough to have actually conducted many of the interviews he claims to have done in the 1970s much less have been the the lover of both Grant and Scott Hadleigh has outed numerous people simply because they were in photographs with men who were gay and therefore part of the gay scene not exactly concrete evidence hide spoiler

  5. GoldGato GoldGato says:

    For some reason I have been on a Cary Grant bio binge It must have been that dratted NORTH BY NORTHWEST movie which I saw on the big screen this year along with a sold out crowd Or perhaps it was BRINGING UP BABYalso seen on the big screen and with an SRO crowd Grant appears to be the only movie star past or present who can actually fill a movie theatre on his name alone Even though he's been dead for 26 years Now that's star powerThis bio was actually better than I anticipated It's the usual chronological approach with some notes on the movies and some notes on what was happening behind the scenes What I definitely appreciated was the extensive notes and sources section which is rare when it comes to Mr Cary Grant It is far easier for most of his biographers to fly off on a whimsy based on pure rumour without providing actual backup facts Marc Eliot put some actual research into this project and I the reader appreciated it Eliot's tone throughout is one of the serious biographer who tisks tisks the other writers who have written some fairly outrageous tomes on the GOAT greatest of all time movie star Still he'll suddenly throw some events together in one group even though the years aren't correct and he himself does the guessing game when he states that Grant was desperate to marry Dyan Cannon As her own book Dear Cary My Life with Cary Grant testifies it was uite the reverse And Eliot can really go all um wonky on descriptions the camera uickly discoveredthe perfection of his featuresand that remarkable cleft in his chin whose two smooth and curved bulges resembled nothing so much as a beautiful woman's naked behind while she was on her knees in sexual supplication before the godlike monument of his face Whoawhathuh?I do walk away with a greater liking for Cary aka Archie Leach of Bristol England He transformed himself from nothing into something but importantly he did it his way He refused to kowtow to the film studios which incurred their wrath forever He was the first star to go it alone when such a thing meant career suicide He was also the first to see where Hollywood was headed resulting in his hooking up with MCA and Universal in the 1950s to begin the 'package' deals that were to become the standard of business some thirty years laterBut mostly I remember what my co worker at Paramount Studios a well respected agent told me about Cary Grant He said that Cary was always an outsider always reclusive and he always did things his way For that unforgivable sin most of the industry resented him and thus the rumours began This agent only had respect for Grant When I asked him if he ever had this same respect for any other entertainment figure he thought about it and answered no That answer overwrote all the rumours In NORTH BY NORTHWEST during the scene on Mount Rush I wanted Cary Grant to hide in Lincoln's nostril and then have a fit of sneezing The Parks Commission of the Department of Interior was rather upset at this thought I argued until one of their number asked me how I would like it if they had Lincoln play the scene in Cary Grant's nose I saw their point at once Alfred HitchcockBook Season Summer Cary Cary Cary

  6. Marshall Marshall says:

    The best thing about this book is the cover The problem is the author's approach to the book and the subject It is confused and confusing The areas that I had the biggest problems with are Grant's sexuality Grant's pursuit for an Oscar and his role as a spyGrant's sexuality has been the subject of much ink and unless there are love letters or diaries out there I am not sure the subject will ever be settled He appears to have shared a house and a friendship with Randolph Scott and despite the career perils then and now of a leading man flaunting a gay relationship the author appears to insist that the rumors that they were lovers at face value This also appears to be the only gay relationship either had At which point they both were exclusively heterosexual I am not sure that this makes sense If Scott and Grant were gay or bi it seems that these tendencies might manifest themselves later in life Grant given his Dickensian childhood and emotionally stunted personality probably would have welcomed any sort of relationship but probably one that made as few demands as possible Grant just discovered that his mother was not dead but had been placed in an insane asylum something that seemed to have a profound effect on him This is probably what Scott represented If sex was part of it who knows? Comradery was probably all Grant wanted The author makes much about Grant's uest for an Oscar I just don't believe this Grant really was obsessed by money A good picture was one that made a great deal of money He did not seem interested much in public acclaim even that of the Motion Picture Academy The author spends a great deal of time trying to portray Grant as obsessed with winning an Oscar which I am not sure is the case Grant the spy? Grant was uestioned by the FBI that does not make him a spyThe author seems to want to to believe everything ever said about Grant and with the most sensational interpretation I do not think he has thought critically about Grant and what emerges is a mess of a book I would rather read a thoughtful book on Grant one capable of producing some real insights

  7. Whitney Whitney says:

    I can't remember which was the first movie I watched that starred Cary Grant but I feel like I have always loved him He was one of those lucky actors who became attractive as he aged But throughout his personal life he openly struggled against his own persona of Cary Grant He wanted to freely make his own choices one of which being his desire to live with a man in a partnership that resembled marriage but it seems like halfway through his life he switched from man into star His star persona was loved by women; he was swoon worthy and fantastic But according to the local legal offices the number of his ex wives were close to half a dozen The relationships didn't last long and contained troubling rumors of abuse and neglectHaving read this book it seems like the star consumed the man Or the man was discarded in favor of the starExcept for hereHere he is in 1968 bossing his way through a hospital Car accident Everyone was fine

  8. Megan Megan says:

    An extensive account of the life and legend that is Cary Grant Having grown up with his movies as one of the many Saturday afternoon movies played by my father I was charmed by Grant This biography delves deep into the life emotions and psychology of one of Hollywood's most longstanding and interesting leading men

  9. Ed Ed says:

    While I am a fan of Cary Grant it’s really the four Hitchcocks Charade and maybe two others that I really love I thought this would be fascinating because of what I heard about his bisexuality and LSD use for openers This did not disappoint It’s always a marathon reading about an entire life but it’s rewarding when it’s this well written While the author’s other work is excellent this is masterful Grant was charming offscreen but had some serious demons which aren’t shied away from It’s refreshing how at peace Grant himself was with his sexuality even though his industry wasn’t Any Hollywood life that spans from the 30s to the 80s is going to be richly dense with juicy history Even if you aren’t a big fan of Grant the scope of his life and career is a great story all on its own

  10. Penny Landon Penny Landon says:

    When I made the decision to look into some biographies of Cary Grant an actor I've loved for a couple of years this was the first biography to come up and without a second thought I made up my mind to read it Some of you are probably wondering if I liked the actor so much then why would I rate one of his biographies so low Well that all has to do with the author of this biography Marc Eliot a man who I think should never be allowed to pass any of his books off as nonfiction considering the experience I had with this oneIn regard to biographies I have some pretty distinct opinions about the author's voice In an autobiography I want as much of the author's voice as possible because they are telling their own life story In fact author commentary feels like a must In a biography where the author is not telling their own story I want their authorial voice to be completely nonexistent The author of a biography should put aside all of their biases and inhabit the roles of the researcher interviewer and writer Marc Eliot prefers to have his own commentary be the star of this book not Cary Grant himselfThe other huge problem I had is that Eliot preferred to make his own assertions about Grant's sexuality the star of this biography While the information provided about Grant's life seems comprehensive so much of it felt gossipy and hearsay ish Again and again Eliot circled back to what he believes to be the homosexual relationship between Grant and Randolph Scott drawing links that felt crass and untrue I knew I was in for a troubling read when Eliot uses some hastily crafted Freudian mumbo jumbo to argue that the feminine outfits Grant's mother put him in as a child outfits typical for the time period must have predicated his obvious homosexuality Whether Cary Grant had an intimate or friendly relationship with Randolph Scott feels unimportant compared to the rest of his life and his whole body of workAs a whole I felt like I really didn't learn much about my favorite actor I'm hesitant to believe any of the information I gleaned from this so called Biography and I wish I had sought out a different biography to read Those looking to learn about Cary Grant's life should probably just avoid this book at all costs

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