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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
James Curtis is the author of W. C. Fields: A Biography; James Whale: A New World of Gods and Monsters; and Between Flops: A Biography of Preston Sturges. Curtis is married and lives in Brea, California.
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For Tracy fans you will read fascinating accounts of all his movies, the preparation for them, the on the set conflicts, his relationships with the greatest movie stars of the 20th century and how he dealt with being one of the greatest movies stars of his time. The author also spends a great deal of time showing Tracy's marriage, his children ( his son born deaf) and how this too contributed to his deep emotional conflicts.
A good part of the last half of the book deals with his long relationship with Katherine Hepburn. Author Curtis brings this often tumultuous relationship with all its passions, complexities and love to the reader in often intimate detail. And with that we gain much insight into the great Hepburn herself. Just reading about their relationship is worth the price of this book alone. This book is a must read for anyone interested in the movies, the history behind them and the true greatness of one of it's best and most gifted stars. A fascinating book on all accounts.
light fiction and decided to explore some biographies. I could NOT have picked a better book than this one on Spencer Tracy!! He was such a complex and gifted man, so very multidimensional that
he needed a gifted author to write about him. My main worry was that this huge book would be too dry-too much detail
because of it's length and reading some excerpts. I was wrong. I was thoroughly
engrossed in this actors life and loved the detail because of my interest in such a complex man. I wish more biographers
could write with the accuracy and detail
that was in this book!!! If you have the time and the interest, it's a great read.
Curtis is a careful researcher and notes that he is not a fan of the current genre of celebrity biography in which writers are often try to synthesize new sexual orientations, accept word of mouth remembrances, and decades-old memories as undeniable proof.
This book is meticulously researched and ends up showing Tracy as a very vital, fascinating, but self-abnegating actor.
This is not a book that focuses on Hepburn and talks about Tracy as a sideline--it's about Tracy, and where it's important, there relationship is discussed, and in very matter of fact terms. That she loved him was undeniable. He certainly needed her. But he remained married to his first wife until his death, and Hepburn did not attend his funeral.
Spence was a great actor and--with typical Irish understatement--denied he worked at it at all. He was a man's man. And women found him irresistible. Not even Hepburn had a strictly monogamous relationship as a mistress. She did love, and care for Tracy in a way that no one else could, and was as crazy about him as an adolescent.
To the very end, Spence held onto the beliefs he was brought up with, although his actions were rarely in keeping with the beliefs. He was tormented by guilt and felt his work was meaningless, compared to, say, the real Father Flanagan, with whom he maintained a close relationship until the latter's death.
The book is long but engrossing. It's hard to end it without feeling a deeper admiration for Spencer Tracy. And, to give credit, to Hepburn, for showing respect to his beliefs, which were much different than her own.
Do we ever really know for sure what is the absolute truth in a bio or auto-bio ? No.
But for what is in this book- if you are a Tracy fan, you will at least come away with a perspective that is not just about the man on the silver screen.
This is a big book and will take you a while to get through it unless you are someone that can't put a good book down and read into the night.
Worth adding to your biography collection- particularly if you love Hollywood star bios. I got it used in LIKE NEW condition. A great deal on the life of one of Hollywood's legendary actors.