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Cary Grant: A Biography

3.66  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,770 Ratings  ·  121 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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29th out of 616 books — 211 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Cristina
Jul 15, 2007 Cristina rated it it was ok
Shelves: film
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.
Feb 24, 2013 Mikey B. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, film
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
Michelle
Aug 19, 2011 Michelle rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Penny Landon
Jul 07, 2015 Penny Landon rated it it was ok
When I made the decision to look into some biographies of Cary Grant, an actor I've loved for a couple of years, this was the first biography to come up and without a second thought I made up my mind to read it. Some of you are probably wondering if I liked the actor so much, then why would I rate one of his biographies so low. Well, that all has to do with the author of this biography, Marc Eliot, a man who I think should never be allowed to pass any more of his books off as nonfiction consider ...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
Kevin
Aug 28, 2015 Kevin rated it it was amazing
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 2
...more
Liz Alexander
Jun 29, 2015 Liz Alexander rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
If you've ever doubted that reality isn't "fixed" but is whatever we want it to be, then try reading several biographies and memories of ex-spouses of a well-known star like Cary Grant (as I have). It's fascinating to see what different perceptions people can have of the same man.

After reading three books about Cary Grant thus far, including this one, I'm still no closer to understanding the relationship (platonic "bromance," lover, what?) between Grant and Randolph Scott. How much of the "love
...more
Kate
Sep 05, 2007 Kate rated it liked it
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 liked it
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
Michele
Feb 03, 2016 Michele rated it liked it
The author spent too much time enlightening the reader on the sexual orientation of Cary Grant. If he discussed it once, he must have discussed it a thousand times (no exaggeration). I prefer a good biography that tells me about the person - their family background, education, aspirations, tribulations, etc. I don't want to read all their dirty laundry or someone's opinion (especially if it is mostly conjecture and gossip). The second half of the book was mostly about the movies Grant made. The ...more
Alyssa
Apr 13, 2015 Alyssa rated it it was ok
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
Hope
Nov 25, 2015 Hope rated it it was amazing
Fair, even-handed biography, but a bit sad, like a lot of star biographies. I started on Martin Short's autobiography right after this and realized that the tone of wistfulness common to biographies wasn't present because Short emphasizes how lucky he felt (even in the face of personal tragedies). It made me wonder if a Grant-authored (or an Elvis-authored, thinking back to Guralnick's depressing books) autobiography would be much more cheerful and full of funny stories than the narrative arcs w ...more
Jessica
Nov 09, 2008 Jessica rated it liked it
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
Jul 23, 2011 Wendy rated it liked it
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
Jul 19, 2011 Claire rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 11, 2010 Lee Anne rated it liked it
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
Jun 18, 2012 Ruth rated it liked it
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
Jan 07, 2013 Naching Kassa rated it it was ok
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
Jan 10, 2014 Melody rated it liked it
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 liked it
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
Livia
Jan 31, 2016 Livia rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, 2015
Zbožňujem filmy z doby tzv. zlatého Hollywoodu. Cary Granty vždy patril k mojim naj mužským favoritom. Táto kniha mi dosť zničila ilúzie o síce talentovanom ale arogantnom a značne psychicky nevyrovnanom chlapovi. Je mi jedno, že bol zrejme gay (v tej dobe to určite nebolo jednoduché), ale ani to mu nedávalo právo chovať sa ku svojim manželkám ako hovädo.

Ale životopisy týchto hercov väčšinou nečítam kvôli informáciám z ich osobných životov. Vždy ma viac zaujímajú informácie o tom, ako sa v dane
...more
L'aura
May 25, 2015 L'aura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bios
I was surprised by the readers' reviews of this. Most of them mentioned how tabloid-style the book was, while I thought it really was almost in awe of Grant's talent (which I'm often not, to be honest), quite fact-based (many also complained of its fixation with his movies' grossing, but what do you expect from an actor's biography?) and as thorough as possible in trying to frame everything in the context of his life.
Sure, Eliot insists on Grant's alleged homosexuality and treats it very matter
...more
Kaethe
Jul 14, 2014 Kaethe rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
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.
Julie Wilding
Dec 03, 2015 Julie Wilding rated it really liked it
Giving this four because it's a biography of a pretty private person who didn't speak very openly to the press about anything; that isn't the biographer's fault obviously but also doesn't make for a clear picture of Cary Grant. That said, I definitely cried in the last chapter and whenever a mention was given of his tender heart and wish to be accepted and loved by people. He sounds like a monstrous husband, but I really enjoyed reading about his relationship with his daughter, with friends, and ...more
Christina
Jan 01, 2013 Christina rated it liked it
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
Leslie
Jul 05, 2015 Leslie rated it did not like it
Lots of uninteresting minutiae. Either this is a very dull book, or Cary Grand was a very dull person. I gave up 1/3 of the way. Wonder if I'm missing out on the good stuff, but not enough to carry on.
Tom
Mar 12, 2008 Tom rated it really liked it
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
Feb 11, 2013 Brooke Nelson rated it liked it
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
Jun 15, 2013 Matt Gallo rated it it was amazing
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
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