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Spencer Tracy: A Biography Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 18, 2011
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“Definitive . . . [James Curtis] charts the life, loves and struggles of the Milwaukee-born, Oscar-winning screen legend in expert detail, leaving no source or story unchecked. . . Curtis taps deeply mined remembrances and fresh anecdotes collected in years of interviews with just about everyone in Tracy’s life.”
—Chris Foran, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Definitive . . . well written. . . I marvel at the research.”
—David Thomson, The New York Review of Books
“A great story about a great actor. . . [James Curtis] is an excellent researcher and writer . . . definitive . . . belongs in the classic movie fan’s library.”
—Douglass K. Daniel, Associated Press
“Exhaustively researched. . . ”
—Jeff Dawson, The Sunday Times
“A balanced and intriguing look at one of the screen’s greatest actors . . . Curtis has obtained access to everything from Tracy’s datebooks to his health records . . . all of this research makes possible an incredibly detailed account of Tracy’s life . . . those who remember him will be fascinated; younger readers will be spurred to rent his film and revel in his talent.”
“Impeccably researched . . . a monumental, definitive biography of one of the finest film actors in the history of the medium.”
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Tracy has had a dismal history with the genre of the celebrity biography. There are only two full length Tracy biographies written prior to this book; one the fine but too brief and occasionally inaccurate book by Larry Swindell (1969), and the really poor, extremely fictionalized account of Tracy's life by Bill Davidson (1988). However, there have been more than 30 biographies of Katharine Hepburn published over the years. Most of those are highly inaccurate with regard to Hepburn and even more so on the subject of Spencer Tracy. In the Hepburn books, the facts of Tracy's life have consistently been misstated, including a huge variety of inaccurate and often malicious stories about his alcoholism, family life and relationship with Hepburn.
So, I have been enthusiastically looking forward to James Curtis' book and he does not disappoint. Curtis has a track record of writing very fine film related books including the excellent 2003 W. C. Fields biography. Curtis spent more than five years researching and writing this book and has drawn on the considerable research of another writer, Selden West, who originally was going to write the book but eventually withdrew from the project. Most importantly Curtis had the complete cooperation of Tracy's daughter, Susie, and access to the journals Tracy maintained for much of his adult life as well as correspondence, medical and business records and the recollections of close family members in Freeport, IL and elsewhere.Read more ›
Yet... yet... one wonders if Tracy's alcoholism, his depression, his violent mood swings, and his inability to sustain meaningful interpersonal relationships weren't caused by something other than his son's hearing loss. He certainly was not the first father to grapple with such a setback, yet other parents have dealt with far worse disabilities and challenges with much more grace and courage. One wonders if there were not something else, some other demon, that drove Tracy to succumb as he did. To say that his Irish-Catholic background was the root of this torment is a facile cop-out. I too share that background with Mr.Read more ›
It can be assumed correctly that I am a fan of the late actor and I have read everything that has been written about the man over the past 30 years. Some of it has been good; a lot has been bad and grossly inaccurate.
James Curtis has done a remarkable job of reconstructing Tracy's life. He has relied on archived information, interviews from family and friends, and has used reputable sources and anecdotes that flesh out the man and the actor. This book is huge by today's standard and is heavily footnoted. In many instances I found myself flipping back and forth between the the text and the footnotes. In these instances, the footnoting was so thorough that it resolved any questions I might have had. Curtis made an admirable effort in getting this biography right. As a reader of his previous books, this did not surprise me. He works in a scholarly way but manages to write a compelling and interesting story which is often a difficult task.
I think the many annecdotes that peppered this book throughout were the elements that I particularly liked about this book. A curious passage about his early friendship with Pat(Bill) O'Brien, depicted the two working as menial laborers who would enjoy a huge breakfast at a hotel that probably cost more than what they made. Tracy would pay the tab; his family was staying at the hotel. Another described Tracy accompanying MGM studio exec Eddie Mannix back to Massachusetts for the funeral of his first wife Berniece. Curtis describes Tracy's attentive tenderness toward the dead woman's mother.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A poignant and honest telling of one of the movie's best actors. Breaks many of the rumors and shows what an amazing artist Tracy was.Published 2 months ago by Margo Visitacion
I can see how some people would find this a bit more than they bargained for, but I found it briskly written and compelling all the way through. Read morePublished 3 months ago by G. Gardner
When you read this biography you will fully understand why during his career Spencer Tracy was called the "actor's actor. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Allan H. Seidman
A very informative and well-researched book which presents a comprehensive life of Spencer Tracy. Clear, well written prose illuminates the psychology and history or Mr. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Webstercat
Most people today don't know who Spencer Tracy is. He was born in 1900 and died in 1967. Some of the works on him focus on that he had issues with alcohol vs. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Camerons
A Gifted Actor! A detailed book of Spencer Tracy's life, love and movies! As his career took off, he would rehearse by himself and do a dialog or close up in one take. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Dakotalucky
I have only recently come to learn of and admire the man known as Spencer Tracy or Spence to his friends. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Mariann West
found it very dry.....too drawn out..maybe I will try reading it again...later...because I think he was a great actor...Published 14 months ago by duncan