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Cary Grant: A Biography

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Rigorously researched and elegantly written, Cary Grant: A Biography is a complete, nuanced portrait of the greatest star in cinema history. Exploring Grant’s troubled childhood, ambiguous sexuality, and lifelong insecurities, as well as the magical amalgam of characteristics that allowed him to remain Hollywood’s favorite romantic lead for more than thirty-five years, Rigorously researched and elegantly written, Cary Grant: A Biography is a complete, nuanced portrait of the greatest star in cinema history. Exploring Grant’s troubled childhood, ambiguous sexuality, and lifelong insecurities, as well as the magical amalgam of characteristics that allowed him to remain Hollywood’s favorite romantic lead for more than thirty-five years, Cary Grant is the definitive examination of every aspect of Grant’s professional and private life and the first biography to reveal the real man behind the movie star.


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Rigorously researched and elegantly written, Cary Grant: A Biography is a complete, nuanced portrait of the greatest star in cinema history. Exploring Grant’s troubled childhood, ambiguous sexuality, and lifelong insecurities, as well as the magical amalgam of characteristics that allowed him to remain Hollywood’s favorite romantic lead for more than thirty-five years, Rigorously researched and elegantly written, Cary Grant: A Biography is a complete, nuanced portrait of the greatest star in cinema history. Exploring Grant’s troubled childhood, ambiguous sexuality, and lifelong insecurities, as well as the magical amalgam of characteristics that allowed him to remain Hollywood’s favorite romantic lead for more than thirty-five years, Cary Grant is the definitive examination of every aspect of Grant’s professional and private life and the first biography to reveal the real man behind the movie star.

30 review for Cary Grant: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cristina

    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 floor. Eliot'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 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 floor. Eliot'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-star. For 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. 5 out of 5

    Carla Remy

    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. 5 out of 5

    Mikey B.

    Marvelous Book on Marvelous Actor An 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 U.S. to perform on Broadway in the early '20's. After that, Grant essentially made the rest of his career in the U.S. (Hollywood). Eliot discusses Grant's relationship with other men, like Randolph Scott with whom he lived with Marvelous Book on Marvelous Actor An 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 U.S. to perform on Broadway in the early '20's. After that, Grant essentially made the rest of his career in the U.S. (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. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    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, questioning 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 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, questioning 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 quite 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 quotes 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 who...managed 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 Grant...[they] 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 saga.(p 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 informed. It 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 SPOILER:(view spoiler)[I 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 more 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. 5 out of 5

    GoldGato

    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 BABY...also 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 power. This bio was actually better than I anticipated. 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 BABY...also 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 power. This 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 G.O.A.T. (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 quite the reverse. And Eliot can really go all, um, wonky on descriptions. ...the camera quickly discovered...the perfection of his features...and 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. Whoa...what...huh? I do walk away with a greater liking for Cary, aka Archie Leach of Bristol, England. He transformed himself from nothing into something, but more 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 later. But 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 Rushmore, 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 Hitchcock) Book Season = Summer (Cary, Cary, Cary)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marshall

    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 "spy." Grant'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 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 "spy." Grant'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 quest 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 questioned by the FBI, that does not make him a spy. The 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 more thoughtful book on Grant, one capable of producing some real insights.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Whitney

    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 more 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." 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 more 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 neglect. Having read this book, it seems like the star consumed the man. Or the man was discarded in favor of the star. Except for here: Here he is in 1968, bossing his way through a hospital. Car accident. Everyone was fine.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    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. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    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’ 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. 5 out of 5

    Penny Landon

    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 more of his books off as nonfiction 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 more of his books off as nonfiction considering the experience I had with this one. In 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 himself. The 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 work. As a whole I felt like I really didn't learn much more 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 more about Cary Grant's life should probably just avoid this book at all costs.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    This is a tabloid-style look at Cary Grant's life and career. Parts of it are interesting, but those parts cover the more gossipy details of Grant's life--much of which is conjecture rather than fact. Otherwise, the book is more a review of his movies than a biography, and the "Grant on the Couch"-style psychological comparisons between his life and screen persona are often annoying and don't really say much about the actor. The book moves slow and is only truly interesting during the (brief) This is a tabloid-style look at Cary Grant's life and career. Parts of it are interesting, but those parts cover the more gossipy details of Grant's life--much of which is conjecture rather than fact. Otherwise, the book is more a review of his movies than a biography, and the "Grant on the Couch"-style psychological comparisons between his life and screen persona are often annoying and don't really say much about the actor. The book moves slow and is only truly interesting during the (brief) chapters on Grant's collaboration with Hitchcock and his marriage to Dyan Cannon. At best, it's periodically entertaining but lacks a solid theme.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kaethe Douglas

    Unreadable. The author used "Episcopal" for "Anglican" twice in the same sentence. Also more Freud than I've seen since a sophomore-level English course. If I'm going to bother to read a biography, I do expect some minimum standards. It's a shame, really, because that is one of the cleverest and most appealing book covers.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    i would recommend this only to someone like me who'd be fascinated to learn all that you can about cary grant. that said, the author's style is not the best -- he interrupts himself mid-thought and seems more concerned with gossip than fact. i enjoyed it for the movie anecdotes and the insight it provided into the man that became cary grant.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    Good read if you are a fan of old Hollywood. Grant was always one of my favorites, along with Katharine Hepburn. It was interesting to learn about his life and go behind the scenes of his movies.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Elliot

    This was probably the best biography I've read about one of my favorite actors. It was super easy to read and not bogged down by details or anything of the sort. Marc Eliot did a wonderful job conveying his research on Grant. I love the parts about his early films and well into his career. I loved the background of Grant's life, mashed up with his film career and the background stories on set and Hollywood in general. From the lavish parties, to the quiet moments at home, Eliot did a wonderful This was probably the best biography I've read about one of my favorite actors. It was super easy to read and not bogged down by details or anything of the sort. Marc Eliot did a wonderful job conveying his research on Grant. I love the parts about his early films and well into his career. I loved the background of Grant's life, mashed up with his film career and the background stories on set and Hollywood in general. From the lavish parties, to the quiet moments at home, Eliot did a wonderful job humanizing a Hollywood legend and icon.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    So I am not sure what exactly I got from listening to this. Grant seemed much bigger than this biographer painted him to be. He was a star. He was a talent. He deserved a competitive Oscar. Grant seemed to somehow elude happiness despite his success for most of his life. Despite this, he made wonderful films that people will be watching for years and years. This book was gossipy. This writer wanted to make sure we understood that Grant was homo/bi-sexual. I say, who cares? Finally, this writer So I am not sure what exactly I got from listening to this. Grant seemed much bigger than this biographer painted him to be. He was a star. He was a talent. He deserved a competitive Oscar. Grant seemed to somehow elude happiness despite his success for most of his life. Despite this, he made wonderful films that people will be watching for years and years. This book was gossipy. This writer wanted to make sure we understood that Grant was homo/bi-sexual. I say, who cares? Finally, this writer used "nevertheless " way too much in this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Debi Emerson

    This is a well written book, and it seems to be well researched. However, the author insists that Cary Grant was gay which I just don't find believable. The author basis this assertion on Grant's friendship with Randolph Scott; I don't find this compelling: plenty of other male actors of the time had friendships with other men, and even lived with other men, but they aren't assumed to be gay. And there seems to have been no other men after both Scott & Grant married. So I marked my rating This is a well written book, and it seems to be well researched. However, the author insists that Cary Grant was gay which I just don't find believable. The author basis this assertion on Grant's friendship with Randolph Scott; I don't find this compelling: plenty of other male actors of the time had friendships with other men, and even lived with other men, but they aren't assumed to be gay. And there seems to have been no other men after both Scott & Grant married. So I marked my rating down because of this, to me, fallacy. Otherwise, the book is very thorough and very interesting.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Kizer

    Picked this up after seeing Marc Eliot speak at a Hitchcock Film Fest. Very well-written book about Grant’s life. What stood out to me was Grant “breaking” the studio system and becoming the first “free agent” star by not signing long-term picture deals. Also, how many films he turned down over the years, like Music Man, My Fair Lady, The Birds, Heaven Can Wait, It’s a Wonderful Life, Mary Poppins, Roman Holiday, A Star Is Born and so many more.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Frost

    The book is well written and Grant is one of my favorite actors. However I could do without the tabloid sensationalism in the book. When the book focuses on Grant’s film and stage career it’s a great read. When Eliot writes about rumors and hearsay it’s kind of unbearable. Is it really prudent that we have to read about Grant and Gary Cooper’s manhood? Read for the amazing career of a Hollywood legend breeze through the tabloid rumors.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tarma

    While I'm not particularly appreciative of the tearing down of a person whose work I admire, which is implicit in much of this book, at the same time, I realize that there is a lot of 'good' in reading this. In finding out that a person who is viewed as an 'icon' is just another person -- and a person who invented then re-invented himself to be someone that he, himself, liked and could live with. That is quite admirable.

  21. 5 out of 5

    William Roseen

    This was a thorough and pleasant book, focused on the movies and movie people in the life of Cary Grant. From his early acrobat days in England to his rise in Hollywood, issues with the FBI during the black list period, and his various relationships with both men and women - this is a fascinating story for the movie buff.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    Very comprehensive story of the 5X married super star. Very sad as well. He never found his soul mate & the happiness he craved.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Christine Nicole

    Obvious that the author is more obsessed with the post-golden age of Hollywood than with the subject and truth of the biography.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Vena Paylo

    Engaging bio, very thorough and insightful. Enjoyable!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Noel

    not exactly mind blowing but interesting enough must read up on randolph scott ,j.edgar hoover and howard hughes

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Enjoyable Biography I love Cary Grant. This is a fun read, gossipy but not unfriendly. Not many photos in the Kindle version. It was first published in 2004.

  27. 5 out of 5

    John Peel

    A detailed but very mean-spirited account of the life of one of movie's greatest leading men.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gena

    Cary Grant: A Biography tells the story of how young Archie Leach from Bristol, England grew up to become one of the most successful film actors of the Twentieth Century. Eliot’s book attempts to show how Cary Grant’s lonely early years formed the basis for the film persona which charmed a nation in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Born in 1904 to parents who had already lost one son, Archie Leach was the center of his mother’s life. Her subsequent “death” when he was still a child and Grant’s later Cary Grant: A Biography tells the story of how young Archie Leach from Bristol, England grew up to become one of the most successful film actors of the Twentieth Century. Eliot’s book attempts to show how Cary Grant’s lonely early years formed the basis for the film persona which charmed a nation in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Born in 1904 to parents who had already lost one son, Archie Leach was the center of his mother’s life. Her subsequent “death” when he was still a child and Grant’s later abandonment by his father for a new family, resonated throughout his entire life. The author illustrates Grant’s lifelong search for a replacement mother figure in the five wives he eventually married and divorced and how only director Alfred Hitchcok succeeded in harnessing the dark, controlling side of Grant’s personality into a cinematic force. I enjoyed this book; it shed a lot of insight into one of the most iconic actors of the Twentieth Century. Cary Grant is THE classic Movie Star – handsome, charming, and Romantic. Eliot does a good job on chronicling his history from his childhood up to his death but I wasn’t impressed by his repeating stories which he could not support. Grant’s mysterious “cancer” treatment in the 30’s was given numerous pages only to end with the fact that all records about the incident had long ago been “lost”. And Grant’s unconventional relationship with actor Randolph Scott, while compelling, is in my opinion unsubstantiated and amounts to little more than gossip. This book does, however, record Grant’s career and some of the amazing financial deals he made for his films. Being an actor in the days of the “studio system” where young, good looking actors were groomed for stardom by the big studios, Grant broke away, establishing himself as an independent actor. With only a lawyer to iron out the legal contracts, Cary Grant dealt with the biggest studios of the time and while he earned a fortune he also earned the ire of the studios which eventually made him a star. Cary Grant made some of the most memorable motion pictures ever filmed and gave some of the most magnetic performances ever seen, and yet never earned an Academy Award nomination. Because of his unconventional relationship with the studios and the people who ran them his only recognition came in 1970 long after the old guard had been replaced and he received an Honorary Oscar. All in all this book was a good read, but only for the facts of Grants career and personal life. If Eliot had offered more proof on some of the intriguing things he threw out as fact it would have been better. It did make me go out and rent some of Grant’s old movies – they sure don’t make ‘em like that anymore. Cary Grant, now that’s a Movie Star!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    Cary Grant was a true icon, a Hollywood Superstar, and a huge box office draw, starring in some of the 20th century's most loved films. He deserves a better biography than this. On the plus side - there is lots of information about Grant's films (including some spoilers, so read with caution if there are some you haven't seen yet and are planning to watch). In fact if this book had been exclusively about the making of his movies, it would have been a brilliant read. However, on the negative side Cary Grant was a true icon, a Hollywood Superstar, and a huge box office draw, starring in some of the 20th century's most loved films. He deserves a better biography than this. On the plus side - there is lots of information about Grant's films (including some spoilers, so read with caution if there are some you haven't seen yet and are planning to watch). In fact if this book had been exclusively about the making of his movies, it would have been a brilliant read. However, on the negative side - the author is OBSESSED with Cary Grant's sexuality. Grant was often rumoured to be bisexual - something he always denied. Eliot takes it as fact, and gives details of many apparent relationships that Grant had with other men, although he has no reliable sources to back up most of what he says (and in some cases, no sources at all). It matters not a jot to me whether Grant was straight, gay or bisexual. But accuracy in a biography does matter. And there is just so much speculation presented as fact here. I also got the impression that Eliot did not actually like Cary Grant very much. He fails to mention the extensive charity work which Grant engaged himself in, beyond a throwaway line. The writing borders on cringeworthy occasionally. For example, when discussing Grant's chuin dimple, Eliot writes, " “…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." Seriously, I'm not making this stuff up. So, if you are after information about Grant's films, this book might be worth a look. But skip the personal stuff - there's just no way of separating fact from the author's opinion.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    Biographies/autobiographies are easily my favourite my favourite genre of book; I find stories so much more fascinating when they are true. To know that what is encased between the covers (bar a few inevitable uses of poetic licence!) actually happened really thrills me, whatever the outcome of the tale. As you can imagine, the story of a legend such as Cary Grant makes for pretty gripping reading. Eliot has written a brilliantly researched and wonderfully written account of Grant’s life, from Biographies/autobiographies are easily my favourite my favourite genre of book; I find stories so much more fascinating when they are true. To know that what is encased between the covers (bar a few inevitable uses of poetic licence!) actually happened really thrills me, whatever the outcome of the tale. As you can imagine, the story of a legend such as Cary Grant makes for pretty gripping reading. Eliot has written a brilliantly researched and wonderfully written account of Grant’s life, from his humble Bristol beginnings as Archie Leach, to his final days as a screen icon. In his intriguing journey he managed to pack in a lot: a career as a male escort, five marriages, a long term live-in relationship with Randolph Scott, dabblings with LSD (medicinal in those days) and more than one run-in with the FBI. This is of course, all intertwined with his astonishing film career in over 70 movies, including Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, Notorious, Monkey Business, To Catch a Thief and North by Northwest. His astute business acumen saw him become the first freelance actor in the days of the studio contract; a move that saved his career and boosted his bank balance, but meant that industry awards eluded him until very late in life. For someone so handsome, this book shows us that Grant was so much more than just a pretty face or another Hollywood bed-hopper. He was in fact very introspective and was constantly tried to find himself in relation to his on-screen persona and in the eyes of his lovers. I am just so glad that I found a small glimpse of Cary Grant in this book.

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