Cary Grant A brilliant disguise

Scott Eyman, 1951-

Book - 2020

"Born Archibald Leach in 1904, he came to America as a teenaged acrobat to find fame and fortune, but he was always haunted by his past. His father was a feckless alcoholic, and his mother was committed to an asylum when Archie was eleven years old. He believed her to be dead until he was informed she was alive when he was thirty-one years old. Because of this experience Grant would have difficulty forming close attachments throughout his life. He married five times and had numerous affairs.... Despite a remarkable degree of success, Grant remained deeply conflicted about his past, his present, his basic identity, and even the public that worshipped him in movies such as Gunga Din, Notorious, and North by Northwest. Drawing on Grant's own papers, extensive archival research, and interviews with family and friends, this is the definitive portrait of a movie immortal."--Amazon.com

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Subjects
Genres
Biographies
Published
New York, NY : Simon & Schuster 2020.
Edition
First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
Language
English
Physical Description
xi, 556 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 487-529) and index.
ISBN
9781501192111
1501192116
9781501191398
150119139X
Main Author
Scott Eyman, 1951- (author)
  • Prologue
  • 1904-1938
  • 1939-1953
  • 1954-1986
  • Epilogue.
Review by Booklist Reviews

Cary Grant wasn't a real person. Archie Leach, from Bristol, England, was a real person; Cary Grant was a facade. Eyman attempts to bring the two together, as he did in his excellent John Wayne: The Life and Legend (2014). However, this book isn't nearly as lively or revelatory as that one. Eyman covers all the biographical bases—Grant's humble birth, his rise to stardom, his many relationships and marriages—but he never quite gets at the heart of the man. There are tantalizing suggestions of an interesting story to be told ("When Archie Leach had to play Cary Grant, it was always 3 a.m."), but we sense there's more going on behind the scenes. Speaking of behind the scenes, Eyman does a nice job of taking us onto the sets of some of Grant's most famous films (Gunga Din, North by Northwest, His Girl Friday), painting a picture of Grant as a perfectionist, but also as a generous actor, more concerned about the quality of a movie as a whole than his own star turn. A well-written and respectful biography, but it leaves Grant's personal story a mystery. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Cary Grant (1904–86) was perhaps the epitome of what we've come to call a movie star. Rising from humble beginnings, he was adored by women, envied by men, and respected by his peers for his agile wit and on-screen presence. Yet Grant often said he was just a man named Archie Leach and that the role of Cary Grant was merely another performance. Eyman's (Hank and Jim) engaging, thorough biography explores this lifelong performance, covering his subject's five marriages, his relationships with playwright Clifford Odets and directors Howard Hawks and Alfred Hitchcock, and his innate insecurity, which was famously aided by LSD therapy in the late 1950s. And unlike Marc Eliot's Cary Grant, which devoted much space to speculating on Grant's possible bisexuality, Eyman presents the facts of Grant's professional and personal life in a detailed yet conversational tone, neither shying from his relationships with men nor exploiting them for unnecessary gossip. VERDICT Combining existing research with voluminous new interviews and access to Grant's personal papers, this is an informative and entertaining biography of a legendary actor.—Peter Thornell, Hingham P.L., MA Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Film historian Eyman (Hank and Jim) presents an enjoyable if overstuffed biography that reveals screen legend Cary Grant (1904–1986) as a man whose self-presentation as a "matchless specimen of masculine charm" masked deep insecurities. Born Archibald Alexander Leach in Bristol, England, Grant had an unsettled upbringing, thanks to his alcoholic father and neurotic, smothering mother, which would "leave him needing and rejecting love... almost simultaneously" throughout his life. The book is at its best when depicting Grant's early years as an acrobat and vaudevillian, which took him to America. Eyman then chronicles Grant's early—and often terrible—forays into film, followed by masterworks such as His Girl Friday, The Philadelphia Story, and Notorious. The back-lot gossip will most likely entertain casual fans more than the intricate box office and budget details. The longtime speculation about Grant's bisexuality comes up often, but would benefit from more nuanced consideration. Other threads involve Grant's multiple marriages and notorious stinginess (house guests reported receiving laundry and phone bills from the wealthy star). But also on display is his generosity of spirit with less experienced costars and colleagues, and his devotion to his only child, Jennifer, born late in his life to fourth wife Dyan Cannon. Though overlong and burdened by extraneous detail, this showbiz chronicle creates an insightful portrait of a man at war with himself. (Oct.) Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

The best-selling author of Pieces of My Heart presents a heavily researched portrait of the Hollywood legend that includes coverage of Grant’s early start as a teen acrobat, his complicated relationships and his Golden Era performances. 100,000 first printing. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"Scott Eyman, author of the New York Times bestseller JOHN WAYNE: The Life and Legend, has written an incisive, definitive biography of another great Hollywood legend, Cary Grant, drawing in part on new research into Grant's all-important early years, which permanently shaped his life"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Film historian and acclaimed New York Times bestselling biographer Scott Eyman has written the definitive, “captivating” (Associated Press) biography of Hollywood legend Cary Grant, one of the most accomplished—and beloved—actors of his generation, who remains as popular as ever today.Born Archibald Leach in 1904, he came to America as a teenaged acrobat to find fame and fortune, but he was always haunted by his past. His father was a feckless alcoholic, and his mother was committed to an asylum when Archie was eleven years old. He believed her to be dead until he was informed she was alive when he was thirty-one years old. Because of this experience Grant would have difficulty forming close attachments throughout his life. He married five times and had numerous affairs.Despite a remarkable degree of success, Grant remained deeply conflicted about his past, his present, his basic identity, and even the public that worshipped him in movies such as Gunga Din, Notorious, and North by Northwest.Drawing on Grant’s own papers, extensive archival research, and interviews with family and friends, this is the definitive portrait of a movie immortal.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Film historian and acclaimed New York Times bestselling biographer Scott Eyman has written the definitive, 'captivating' (Associated Press) biography of Hollywood legend Cary Grant, one of the most accomplished'and beloved'actors of his generation, who remains as popular as ever today.Born Archibald Leach in 1904, he came to America as a teenaged acrobat to find fame and fortune, but he was always haunted by his past. His father was a feckless alcoholic, and his mother was committed to an asylum when Archie was eleven years old. He believed her to be dead until he was informed she was alive when he was thirty-one years old. Because of this experience Grant would have difficulty forming close attachments throughout his life. He married five times and had numerous affairs.Despite a remarkable degree of success, Grant remained deeply conflicted about his past, his present, his basic identity, and even the public that worshipped him in movies such as Gunga Din, Notorious, and North by Northwest.Drawing on Grant's own papers, extensive archival research, and interviews with family and friends, this is the definitive portrait of a movie immortal.