Synopses & Reviews
"Everybody wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be 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.
"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.)
"Highly readable....Glimpses of the debonair leading man's dark side are the most intriguing elements of this welcome biography." People
"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
"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
"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
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.