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Cary Grant : A Biography Hardcover – September 21, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 435 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; 1st edition (September 21, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140005026X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400050260
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,327,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Nearly 20 years after his death in 1986, Cary Grant remains the quintessential Hollywood leading man. Although numerous biographies of Grant have appeared, this legendary film icon continues to fascinate and perplex both biographers and readers, and this new treatment by the author of the acclaimed Walt Disney (1993) undoubtedly will garner popular attention. Born in 1904 in working-class Bristol, young Archibald Leach's less-than-idyllic childhood was permanently shattered by his mother's apparent death in 1914. Laboring for many years under the delusion that his mother had died (she was actually involuntarily committed to an asylum and reunited with her bewildered son after 20 years of confinement), Grant spent a lifetime seeking an ever-elusive mother figure. Grant's five high-profile marriages are explored in detail as well as his less publicized but infinitely more intriguing 11-year live-in relationship with actor Randolph Scott. Eliot places Grant firmly in the bisexual camp, providing convincing evidence and arguments that Grant did indeed enjoy both genders as sexual partners. Other topics addressed include the evolution of Grant's comedic style, influenced by turn-of-the-century British music halls and honed on the American vaudeville circuit; his often rocky ascension to superstardom, culminating in his historic break from the repressive Hollywood studio system (a rift that would cost him dearly in terms of Oscar recognition); and his serious psychotherapeutic flirtation with LSD. 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. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Marc Eliot is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books on popular culture, among them the highly acclaimed biography Cary Grant, the award-winning Walt Disney: Hollywood's Dark Prince, and most recently American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood, plus the music biographies Down Thunder Road: The Making of Bruce Springsteen, To the Limit: The Untold Story of the Eagles, and Death of a Rebel about Phil Ochs. He has been featured in many documentaries about film and music and has written on the media and popular culture for numerous publications. He divides his time among New York City; Woodstock, New York; and Los Angeles. Visit him at

Customer Reviews

"Cary Grant" by Marc Eliot is a thorough look at a screen legend who can still mesmerize audiences to this very day.
The book is such a shallow offering that it seems to come from nothing but the most salacious rumors the author could find and put in a book form.
C. Garcia
I felt like the author would say that studios made up stories and nothing was confirmed and then promptly presented said stories as fact!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 78 people found the following review helpful By C. Garcia on February 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
Thank Goodness that Cary Grant led an interesting and sometimes spectacular life, otherwise this book would be a complete bore. My biggest complaint is that Marc Elliot only offers theories and opinions and very little fact or even sound logic behind some very outlandish claims. For example, he supposes that Cary Grant must have been a male escort because how else could he have survived in New York on his own at 17 years old. Even though we learn that he lived with two other men who helped him out and worked at any job he could get: stiltwalking, selling ties and starting up his own acrobat troupe. By the way since one of the men he lived with was gay, Marc also surmizes that he and Cary were lovers. As further proof of his being a male escort he offers the fact that Mae West casts the very handsome and young Cary in two of her movies even though he was a complete unknown. Furthermore, since she was known to arrange dates for rich men and women with her showbiz friends in New YOrk and since Cary was in New York at the same time and also in showbiz then she must have been his pimp in those early years. Add to that the fact that Cary couldn't stand Mae West seems to somehow substantiate this theory (at least in his own mind). It was this type of logic(illogic) and supposition that is peppered throughout the book that finally renderes it unreliable and essentially fictional.

He offers no first hand annecdotes, facts or source material that supports his theory/supposition that Cary is gay. Someone repeating gossip is just gossip and thats all thats offered.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful By michael sutherland on February 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This really isn't that bad of a biography - it's fairly well-written and organized and interesting - however I like the biographies I read to strictly adhere to FACT and not mix it with FICTION. This biography appears to be 60% fact and 40% imaginative fiction, fiction which spins basic facts into in-depth descriptive stories. I think that any critical reader will realize that from the sources that the author has identified and stated, there is no possible way that he could have had an accurate knowledge of much of what he is presenting here in rich detail. It is well-known that Grant and Randolph Scott were devoted lovers, but neither left either memoirs of the affair or talked in detail to others about it. Yet Eliot states with great certitude what they were thinking and feeling in many scenes and presents intimately choreographed moments that he would logically have no access to unless he had been a fly on the wall in one of his previous lives. Eliot does this a great deal! And though it makes for good drama and interesting reading, the thoughtful reader will stop and ask himself how the author could possibly know these details. The answer is that he doesn't - it's just artistic license which fills in the blanks and creates intriguing exchanges that might have taken place, according to the author's educated guess work. It's so convincing that I bet very few readers notice it to question. But, for me, the thought of so much clever fictionalizing here destroys the reliability of the biography. After all, Grant's life has been thoroughly documented in numerous books by now, and if you're interested in the topic, there is absolutely very little that is new and revealing here.Read more ›
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By LettersHead on March 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
There wasn't enough input from primary sources in this book - interviews with, and direct quotes from, family and friends - to make it antyhing resembling a definitive biography. The details that were provided came off sounding more like heresay than fact, and there was more pop psychology in this than seemed appropriate. The author came across as extremely knowledgeable about Grant's movies, but then got some key details wrong (as noted in detail by other reviewers) but the rest of it seemed like it was written from the outside looking in, which undermined the credibility of the book. The photo on the front was the best part!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mr. George Kaplan on April 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
I agree with many reviewers that tend to believe that there are certain so called "facts" in this book that seem to be just gossip.

But I will say this, the book is very entertaining.It talks about his childhood and the lies that were told to him about his mother (really after that don't you think you'd have commitment problems?). It delves into his early life in New York and how he made his money, the author speculates about his even being a male escort. But really just because he lived with a guy that was gay, does that automatically mean they were lovers?

And his relationship with Randolph Scott is seen as a homosexual relationship because they lived together and they were always seen out and about. Could they have been lovers? Yes, but I believe that for a biographer you should get some quotes from someone stating that fact. Not just because the gossip columns of the time were insinuating this, does it make it fact.

But other than that discrepency I find that the book does give you some insite on the man, especially to see him stand up to the big studios when he decided to go at it alone, and still succeed.
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