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Cary Grant: A Biography Paperback – September 27, 2005
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The great thing about Marc Eliot's book is that it's not sensational by any stretch of the imagination. And contrary to what some reviewers have written, is in fact well-researched as evidenced by the extensive list of sources at the book's conclusion. Admittedly, some sources are anonymous, but that should hardly come as surprising considering the subject matter. What is surprising are the fans who won't let go of the image they've been fed of who Cary Grant was, an image he himself sought to further.
Cary Grant was the first one to perpetrate the myth of "Cary Grant" and was also the first to admit he couldn't live up the image. Who could? Eliot goes behind the Hollywood propoganda of the day (which sadly is still slavishly accepted) to show the dark and light, a very complex man in a complex industry struggling to survive the emotional wounds of childhood.
What's gotten so many older fans feathers ruffled is the reality of Grant's relationship to Randolph Scott -- something that was common knowledge to Hollywood insiders (as was his earlier affair with Orry-Kelly), but which adoring female fans (I suppose understandably) would rather die than accept. Contrary to the rumors of the day, however, the author clearly notes that Grant was not gay, but bisexual (which if anything is actually a rarer trait).
To the author's credit, he neither glorifies nor glosses over that fact. It simply is. Fans who quote Dyan Cannon (his second to last wife) as stating he was never homosexual are missing the point. Grant's first wife's unpublished diaries tell the true story as did Randolph Scott (as verified by the late George Cukor): Grant loved both men and women.
If you can accept that (and there's plenty of evidence to back up the claim), you'll enjoy this fascinating book and allow yourself to move on to the various other facets of Grant's fascinating life, one that made the fictional roles he played pale by comparison.
Indeed, this book would be the perfect basis for a screenplay based on Grant's life. The only real dilemma would be: Who would play him?