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Cary Grant: A Biography

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  1,538 ratings  ·  101 reviews
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, Car ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published September 27th 2005 by Three Rivers Press (first published 2004)
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Memo from David O. Selznick by Rudy BehlmerNorma Shearer by Gavin LambertBombshell by David StennCary Grant by Marc EliotA Life of Barbara Stanwyck by Victoria   Wilson
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,708)
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Cristina B
As a long-time Cary Grant fan, I am perhaps biased to enjoy anything related to the actor. This being said, I approached Marc Eliot's biography with great excitement and hope--and was left with my feelings drastically dashed to bits upon the floor.

Eliot's biography of Grant is very narrow-minded, gossipy, and tediously obsessed with the details of Grant's supposed bisexuality. Although the actor's sexual orientation is of little interest to a fan of the movie star and Hollywood legends in genera
...more
Mikey B.
Marvelous Book on Marvelous Actor

An in-depth look at this great actor. Eliot examines Grant (Archie Leach) from his early years right thru to his death in Iowa while touring at the age of 82.

Grant started in vaudeville in Bristol, England and his company came to the U.S. to perform on Broadway in the early '20's. After that, Grant essentially made the rest of his career in the U.S. (Hollywood).

Eliot discusses Grant's relationship with other men, like Randolph Scott with whom he lived with fo
...more
GoldGato
For some reason, I have been on a Cary Grant bio binge. It must have been that dratted NORTH BY NORTHWEST movie, which I saw on the big screen this year, along with a sold-out crowd. Or perhaps it was BRINGING UP BABY...also seen on the big screen and with an SRO crowd. Grant appears to be the only movie star, past or present, who can actually fill a movie theatre on his name alone. Even though he's been dead for 26 years. Now that's star power.

This bio was actually better than I anticipated. It
...more
Michelle
Biographers have to be many things; first and foremost is, of course, a writer, but also a journalist, a storyteller, a scientist. They must wade through all the primary and secondary sources - testing for veracity and reliability, questioning motivations, determining relevance. A great many "facts" accumulate about an individual within their lifetime - a biographer must determine which facts add up to the truth. The biographer must then take these two-dimensional accounts and photographs, dusty ...more
Ryan Curell
This is a tabloid-style look at Cary Grant's life and career. Parts of it are interesting, but those parts cover the more gossipy details of Grant's life--much of which is conjecture rather than fact.

Otherwise, the book is more a review of his movies than a biography, and the "Grant on the Couch"-style psychological comparisons between his life and screen persona are often annoying and don't really say much about the actor.

The book moves slow and is only truly interesting during the (brief) chap
...more
Kate
Sep 05, 2007 Kate rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lovers of Cary Grant
i would recommend this only to someone like me who'd be fascinated to learn all that you can about cary grant. that said, the author's style is not the best -- he interrupts himself mid-thought and seems more concerned with gossip than fact. i enjoyed it for the movie anecdotes and the insight it provided into the man that became cary grant.
Bob
Nov 15, 2014 Bob rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: owned
Okay, confession time. When I was but a wee thing I used to steal my eldest sister's movie mags (Photoplay, Modern Screen, etc.) and read them as if they were soft-core porn (i.e. stealthily, shamefully, gleefully). I was then utterly fascinated by all things movie- or Hollywood-related. Well, some of my penchant for such guilty pleasures still lingers and periodically I dip into a Hollywood tell-all or two. That's where this one came from. On the whole, it's pretty good (I'd have given it 3.5 s ...more
Alyssa
I love Cary Grant and could not wait to read a biography on him. And I will continue my pursuit because this book was a let down. It had a page long synopsis for almost every single movie Grant starred in, as well as what was basically the author's personal critique of his acting in the film. It seemed so much based in gossip, hearsay, or even the author's own opinion that I felt I couldn't really trust much of the information. The book was tedious and disappointing, even more so because Cary wa ...more
Jessica
This was an interesting book on (another!) one of my favorite actors from an era gone by.

I enjoyed the stories that were told about Cary Grant's childhood (when he was Archie Leach), and how he transformed into the icon that he is today.

What I did not enjoy, however, were some of the more gossip-driven stories that were woven into the entire book. The accusations of homosexuality, especially where Randolph Scott was concerned was the biggest and most offensive. I actually watched a documentary o
...more
Wendy
This is a perfect example of why I prefer autobiographies - Marc Eliot writes fair enough but tends to lace "tabloid gossip" and snide remarks all throughout this book, which I find a huge turn-off. I wanted to learn about Cary Grant, not what the author thinks of him. I wanted to read a bio that Grant himself would have approved of.

That being said, I learned so much about Cary Grant here - some good, some not so much. His amazing career was always overshadowed by the lack of "Academy" support i
...more
Claire
Biographies/autobiographies are easily my favourite my favourite genre of book; I find stories so much more fascinating when they are true. To know that what is encased between the covers (bar a few inevitable uses of poetic licence!) actually happened really thrills me, whatever the outcome of the tale. As you can imagine, the story of a legend such as Cary Grant makes for pretty gripping reading. Eliot has written a brilliantly researched and wonderfully written account of Grant’s life, from h ...more
Lee Anne
So apparently Cary Grant was: fiercely private, litigious, cheap, probably homosexual, definitely bisexual, controlling, and loved LSD. I did learn some things I didn't know; the book was clearly well-researched. But there are some problems with time; most of the book focuses on Grant's early years, but skims over the twenty years from his retirement from films to his death, and his marriage to Betsy Drake, which lasted 13 years, seems very brief when covered here. And it suffers from a scant am ...more
Ruth
Cary Grant was a true icon, a Hollywood Superstar, and a huge box office draw, starring in some of the 20th century's most loved films. He deserves a better biography than this.

On the plus side - there is lots of information about Grant's films (including some spoilers, so read with caution if there are some you haven't seen yet and are planning to watch). In fact if this book had been exclusively about the making of his movies, it would have been a brilliant read. However, on the negative side
...more
Naching Kassa
This biography was not what i expected. i expected more anecdotes and a more personal view of Grant from his friends and colleagues. Instead, it was a very dry telling of Grant's life. i felt as though i were reading a list of how much money it took to make Grant's films, how much he received for each one and how much they eventually earned. To me, that is just boring.
The author's choice not interview people who had known Grant, because they might color their recollections of him, was not a go
...more
Melody
After reading Dyan Cannon's book, Dear Cary, I found Marc Eliot's biography both interesting and, well, a little boring. He went into excruciating detail about every topic, for example, not just a movie Cary was in but how it came to be produced, gossip about Cary and the other stars, how it was distributed and oftentimes how much it grossed. That information on about 35 films became slog I felt I had to wade through. However, that said, a lot of what I learned about Cary's life before Dyan Cann ...more
Gena
Jan 11, 2008 Gena rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: stacks

Cary Grant: A Biography tells the story of how young Archie Leach from Bristol, England grew up to become one of the most successful film actors of the Twentieth Century. Eliot’s book attempts to show how Cary Grant’s lonely early years formed the basis for the film persona which charmed a nation in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Born in 1904 to parents who had already lost one son, Archie Leach was the center of his mother’s life. Her subsequent “death” when he was still a child and Grant’s later aba
...more
Kaethe
Unreadable. The author used "Episcopal" for "Anglican" twice in the same sentence. Also more Freud than I've seen since a sophomore-level English course. If I'm going to bother to read a biography, I do expect some minimum standards. It's a shame, really, because that is one of the cleverest and most appealing book covers.
Christina
Cary Grant was my first celebrity crush… I was convinced after watching His Girl Friday that I was going to grow up and marry that fine-looking man in the sharp suit. My poor mother didn’t have the heart to tell me that he died when I was 4.

This biography was extraordinarily well-researched, full of detail covering his early life as Archie Leach through his remarkable career to his death in the early 1980s. Since there could be no first-hand interviews with the late Mr. Grant, a lot of persisten
...more
Tom
This was a wonderful book about a man who has become a modern myth. While Jesus is the man we all try to be spiritually, Cary Grant is the man we all try to be socially, or be with, or in a few cases, be and be with.
There are many twists of taletelling that the author tries to do. He is very direct about him being a homosexual although Grant always denied it. But this is more revealing of the author than it is the subject. When it comes to Cary Grant, one doesn't see what is actually in front o
...more
Brooke Nelson
This is such a hard book to rate for me. I have grown up watching Cary Grant with my dad, and I was super excited for this book. That being said, he is not at all the person I thought he would be. Whenever I see a Cary Grant movie, from now on, it will change the way I see him. I am not sure I like that. Part of me wishes I was still ignorant!

The author tended to take use a dramatic eye when looking at Grant's life. So much so, that it sometimes felt like he was creating an interesting story, n
...more
Matt Gallo
Talk about a magnificently researched, fascinating, honest and fulfilling biography. Marc Eliot seems nearly without equal in this regard, though, admittedly, I say this without a particularly encompassing breadth of biography experience compared to other books, but it has been growing and growing lately.
This is definitely one of the best (if not the best) of the biographies I've ever read. Endlessly fascinating, it shines light into many corners of the unknown, or misunderstood life of one of
...more
Kirsten
I picked this up last year at a used bookstore for $1. I got home & realized I had the worst rated Cary Grant bio, so I wasn't in a rush to read it. The writing was better than I thought it would be.

Pros: Easy read & the descriptions of Cary Grant's movies.

Cons: Way too much gossip, some of the movie descriptions are too long, parts of the story jump a bit & the author seems to just want hurry up & finish the book after Randolph Scott is out of Grant's life. It became repetitiv
...more
Jim B
Read by author.
Disappointing book. Disappointing man.
Michael
For all its hype, this book is, well, bad. One gets the felling that Marc Eliot does not enjoy life and is one of those people who looks for the bad in everything. It also appears to be one long apologia for the theory that Cary Grant was bi-sexual (or a reluctant hetereosexual); Eliot does not miss an opportunity to wave a flag saying, "SEE! HE HAS SEX WITH MEN!" I'm certainly learning little things about Cary Grant that I did not know, but, at the same time, I'm not sure it's worth plodding th ...more
Margarita
This a book that appears to rely heavily on gossip and speculation to keep it flowing. Basically, it's like Entertainment Tonight, in book form.
Frank Showalter
While it's clear Elliot (like most of the world) harbors a love for Grant's cinematic persona, his well sourced biography won't be for everyone, as it makes a case for Grant's long-rumored bi-sexuality and paints him as a man haunted by insecurity and incapable of living up to his own image. Those looking to maintain the illusion that Grant the character and Grant the man were one and the same would do better to read Grant's autobiography, but for those looking for a peek behind the curtain, thi ...more
Neil
For all the excellent research into Cary Grant's life and work there's something missing from this otherwise thorough account; a sense of affection for the subject. Other than that, Eliot's book is a must-read for anyone interested in how Hollywood worked in the last century, or just keen on Grant's movie work. Surprises throughout, including the star's long relationship with LSD and searing stories about his five marriages. You'll want to seek out his films again when you've finished.
Randi
I adore Cary Grant. (Why else would I have read this book?) That said, while I found parts of the story to be informative and enjoyed some of the behind-the-scenes anecdotes (the Mae West ones were somewhat appalling), I felt like Eliot was basically pandering to those who want to paint Grant as a mother-oriented, bisexual womanizer. (Um, hello? He also made a few films in his time.)

It's a decent read, but I'd recommend that the true fan spend time watching his films instead.
Donna
I really liked this account of Cary Grant. It has the personal details, his movies and history of the time. The good and the bad.

The movie explanations and the relationships with his directors and actors he worked with are revealing. I read a good deal about the celebrities of this era. For me this is an excellent biography of a man who is as complicated as he is perfect looking. I wouldn’t recommend this to those who prefer only the glossy, goody good bios.
Julie
Mar 30, 2010 Julie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: probably not - unless they were a real Cary Grant fan
It was just a biography - not particularly well written, but not poorly written. Too bad Cary really never "got it" ... just another tormented famous Hollywood actor ... who happened to be drop dead GORGEOUS and a favorite of mine. Charade with Audrey Hepburn is still one of my all time favorite movies. Too bad his life couldn't have been a "happily ever after" like Charade.
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