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Cary Grant: A Biography

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Cary Grant: A Biography Cover

ISBN13: 9781400050260
ISBN10: 140005026x
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Review-A-Day

"While Eliot does a good job of cracking the screen fantasy, and at explaining movie politics, his book lacks an emotional tangibility. The narrative thread of Grant's life gets lost at times in the many synopses and financial details of Grant's movies. Still, Eliot's biography provides a fascinating and thorough portrait of the man who would transform himself into Cary Grant." Anna Godbersen, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"Everybody wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant."
Cary Grant

He is Hollywood's most fascinating and timeless star. Although he came to personify the debonair American, Cary Grant was born Archibald Leach on January 18, 1904, in the seaport village of Bristol, England. Combining the captivating beauty of silent-screen legend Rudolph Valentino with the masculine irresistibility of Clark Gable, Grant emerged as Hollywood's quintessential leading man. Today, "the man from dream city," as critic Pauline Kael once described him, remains forever young, an icon of quick wit, romantic charm, and urbane sophistication, the epitome of male physical perfection. Yet beneath this idealized movie image was a conflicted man struggling to balance fame with a desire for an intensely private life separate from the "Cary Grant" persona celebrated by directors and movie studios.

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 to reveal the man behind the movie star.

Working with the most talented directors of his time, Grant starred in an astonishing seventy-two films, ranging from his groundbreaking comedic roles in such classics as Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks) and The Philadelphia Story (George Cukor) to the darker, unforgettable characters of Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion and Notorious, culminating in the consummate sophisticates of An Affair to Remember (Leo McCarey), North by Northwest (Hitchcock), and Charade (Stanley Donen). The camera loved Grant, and his magnetism helped illuminate his leading ladies, some of the most glamorous women ever to grace the silver screen: Mae West, Irene Dunne, Katharine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly, and Sophia Loren, among others. Yet, because of his pioneering role as an independent player, Grant was repeatedly denied the Oscar he coveted — a snub from the Academy that would last until 1970, when he graciously accepted a special lifetime achievement award.

Grant's sparkling image on-screen hid a tumultuous personal life that he tried desperately to keep out of the public eye, including his controversial eleven-year relationship with Randolph Scott, five marriages, and numerous affairs.

Rigorously researched and elegantly written, Cary Grant: A Biography is a complete, nuanced portrait of the greatest Hollywood star in cinema history.

Review:

"During a four-decade career filled with outstanding performances (The Awful Truth; The Philadelphia Story; Notorious; North by Northwest; Charade), Grant's greatest creation was the illusion that the suave Cary Grant really existed offscreen. Born Archibald Leach in Bristol, England, in 1904, he was traumatized at 10 when told of his mother's death. Eighteen years later, he learned she was alive (his father had committed her to an asylum). Grant nonetheless succeeded in Hollywood. After making 24 films in five years, he refused to re-sign with Paramount and, in 1936, became one of Hollywood's first freelance actors. On-screen and off, Grant was pursued by women, but his openly gay relationship with Randolph Scott lasted until both were pressured by studios to marry. Eliot, who has coauthored memoirs with Donna Summer, Barry White and Erin Brockovich, convincingly alleges that Grant was pressured by the FBI to spy on his second wife, heiress Barbara Hutton, in 1942 in return for American citizenship. Eliot's fascinating, sympathetic portrait is of a consummate performer who hid inner demons and used filmmaking to distance himself from reality (and four of his five wives). After years of therapy, weekly LSD treatments and retirement from films, he had a daughter (at age 62), a later happy marriage (he was 74, she 25) and some inner peace before his 1986 death. Photos not seen by PW. Agent, Mel Berger. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"A fascinating and thorough portrait....Eliot does a good job of cracking the screen fantasy." Esquire

Review:

"Eliot gives us a Grant we've never fully glimpsed before." Vogue

Review:

"Highly readable....Glimpses of the debonair leading man's dark side are the most intriguing elements of this welcome biography." People

Review:

"Keeping the actor's astonishing career firmly in view, Eliot assembles a portrait that shows the dark shadows behind the gleaming facade, while also revealing Grant's own shrewdness in maintaining that fictional persona." Washington Post

Review:

"Emotionally immature and sexually ambivalent, the private Grant still emerges as the ultimate charmer, possessing all the charisma, humor, and dramatic appeal of his legendary screen persona." Booklist

Synopsis:

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.

About the Author

Marc Eliot has been writing about pop culture for more than twenty-five years and is the author of over a dozen books, translated into twenty-seven languages, including the New York Times bestselling Erin Brockovich autobiography, Take It from Me, and the critically acclaimed, award-winning biography Walt Disney: Hollywood's Dark Prince. His work has appeared in Penthouse, LA Weekly, California Magazine, and the Metropolitan Review, as well as in numerous other publications both here and abroad. He divides his time among Los Angeles, New York City, and upstate New York. Visit his website at www.marceliot.net.

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Gold Gato, October 15, 2012 (view all comments by Gold Gato)
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 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)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781400050260
Author:
Eliot, Marc
Publisher:
Random House
Location:
New York
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Entertainment & Performing Arts - Actors & Actresses
Subject:
Motion picture actors and actresses
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Series Volume:
no. 161
Publication Date:
September 2004
Binding:
Hardcover
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
448
Dimensions:
9.38x6.52x1.43 in. 1.67 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Film and Television » Actors » Biographies
Arts and Entertainment » Film and Television » Biographies
Biography » Entertainment and Performing Arts

Cary Grant: A Biography Used Hardcover
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Product details 448 pages Harmony - English 9781400050260 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "During a four-decade career filled with outstanding performances (The Awful Truth; The Philadelphia Story; Notorious; North by Northwest; Charade), Grant's greatest creation was the illusion that the suave Cary Grant really existed offscreen. Born Archibald Leach in Bristol, England, in 1904, he was traumatized at 10 when told of his mother's death. Eighteen years later, he learned she was alive (his father had committed her to an asylum). Grant nonetheless succeeded in Hollywood. After making 24 films in five years, he refused to re-sign with Paramount and, in 1936, became one of Hollywood's first freelance actors. On-screen and off, Grant was pursued by women, but his openly gay relationship with Randolph Scott lasted until both were pressured by studios to marry. Eliot, who has coauthored memoirs with Donna Summer, Barry White and Erin Brockovich, convincingly alleges that Grant was pressured by the FBI to spy on his second wife, heiress Barbara Hutton, in 1942 in return for American citizenship. Eliot's fascinating, sympathetic portrait is of a consummate performer who hid inner demons and used filmmaking to distance himself from reality (and four of his five wives). After years of therapy, weekly LSD treatments and retirement from films, he had a daughter (at age 62), a later happy marriage (he was 74, she 25) and some inner peace before his 1986 death. Photos not seen by PW. Agent, Mel Berger. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "While Eliot does a good job of cracking the screen fantasy, and at explaining movie politics, his book lacks an emotional tangibility. The narrative thread of Grant's life gets lost at times in the many synopses and financial details of Grant's movies. Still, Eliot's biography provides a fascinating and thorough portrait of the man who would transform himself into Cary Grant." (read the entire Esquire review)
"Review" by , "A fascinating and thorough portrait....Eliot does a good job of cracking the screen fantasy."
"Review" by , "Eliot gives us a Grant we've never fully glimpsed before."
"Review" by , "Highly readable....Glimpses of the debonair leading man's dark side are the most intriguing elements of this welcome biography."
"Review" by , "Keeping the actor's astonishing career firmly in view, Eliot assembles a portrait that shows the dark shadows behind the gleaming facade, while also revealing Grant's own shrewdness in maintaining that fictional persona."
"Review" by , "Emotionally immature and sexually ambivalent, the private Grant still emerges as the ultimate charmer, possessing all the charisma, humor, and dramatic appeal of his legendary screen persona."
"Synopsis" by , 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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