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Cary Grant

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Member Reviews

Thanks to Simon and Schuster as well as Netgalley for this advanced copy of Cary Grant a biography.  

Cary Grant is my favorite actors, so I was thrilled to see a book written about him. 
There were some things I learned about Mr. Grant that I didn't know before but wasn't too surprised to find out. Besides a few escapades he was a.very kind person. 
This was a very detailed book that was very well researched.  Every movie he made was talked about and what was going on in his life during that time.
If you do like Cary Grant you will enjoy this book quite a bit.
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I read this book for review for Netgalley.  It is interesting about a movie star who touched the lives of many.  The reader, just as the viewer, was entranced with his escapades.  Although sometimes the information could be left out, all in all a good read.
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Cary Grant is one of the most iconic actors in history, and this a fantastic biography of him. Eyman's writing style is engaging, and it's clear that it's well researched.
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Cary Grant is one of my all time favorite actors so I jumped at the opportunity when I saw Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise by Scott Eyman pop up on NetGalley. Luckily, I managed to get approved and now that I've read it I can say this is officially one of my favorite biographies of a classic Hollywood actor. I knew some about Grant's life and work going in, but this book presented quite a bit of totally new to me and fascinating information. There are also perspectives from other actors and behind-the-scenes figures of classic Hollywood that are just as intriguing. If you're at all interested in Cary Grant and his filmography, I can't recommend this well-written and structured biography enough.
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'Cary Grant' by Scott Eyman is a well done & informative biography. To be honest, the only thing i knew about cary Grant prior to reading this was that he is a huge legend. I haven't actually seen any of his movies. However, i love reading about the personal lives of stars so this book was very interesting to me. I found his unusual childhood intriguing and sad. My favorite parts of the books were the inside looks at his marriages.
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Cary Grant has always been one of those characters who is just that--a character. While everyone has seen the glamor and finesse onscreen, his private life was always a question and reflected more of an intentional life, rather than one that just happened. 

Scott Eyman does an excellent job in taking the reader from turn-of-the-century Bristol across the Atlantic to the vaudeville stages across the United States, and then eventually to Hollywood where Cary Grant would leave a permanent mark on the entertainment industry. While there are many misconceptions about Grant's personal life, these aspects are addressed and provide an interesting picture of a many who wanted to find success, and once he had it, wanted to make sure that he was able to find happiness wherever he could.
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Scott Eyman is a great celebrity biographer, this is done with respect and at no time does it turn into a tabloid farce. He's done extensive research for this biography. I knew somewhat about Cary Grant, but Eyman makes it seem like Grant is in the living room with you talking about his life. Grant's childhood to the height of his Hollywood fame and is post-Hollywood career his all explained in detail. I loved the references to his early films, as well as the backstory behind the films and what was going on during filming. It made me feel like a fly on the wall.

As a great fan of Cary Grant as actor and a person, this book is simply a true delight to read. Well written, documented and researched. Scott Eyman's biography stands as the definitive account of the actor's life. It is well worth the time of those interested in the Golden Age of Hollywood. It is chock full of telling anecdotes about Grant and his peers. I found it interesting, informative and I highly recommend it.

NOTE: Cary Grant is my favourite actor and the movie Penny Serenade, 1941 with Irene Dunn, is my favourite movie.
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This book opens with a moving description of the last day of Cary Grant's life. Unfortunately, it is a downhill slog from there. The author does a good job of describing how Archie Leach transforms into Cary Grant, but many parts of the book tend to be tedious and repetitive. It could have been a much shorter biography and captured all of the salient points of the book. I only recommend this book to die hard Cary Grant fans. Others will most likely stop reading or skim to find the good parts.

I received a free Kindle copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon and my nonfiction book review blog
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Thanks to NetGalley for the Advanced Reader’s Copy of Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise by Scott Eyman. I was given this copy for my honest opinion of the book.

What can I say about Cary Grant? I adore Cary Grant. I have so many Cary Grant movies, it is not funny. I probably have more than half of the 73 he made in his lifetime. His Hitchcock movies (Suspicion, Notorious, To Catch a Thief and North by Northwest) are comfort movies for me: whenever I can’t decide what sort of movie to watch, I invariably pull out one of those and pop it in the Blu Ray player.

I love Hollywood biographies, too. Pick an actor/actress that I think is reasonably good in the movies and I’ll read anything published about them. I’ve read all the good and bad Cary Grant biographies out there, but it’s been years since I read one, so I plunged in to Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise with open arms, unsure of what to expect. After all, there have been several comprehensive biographies done since Grant’s death in 1986, some more salacious than others.

Eyman does justice to the man we all called Cary Grant, but started life as Archie Leach from Bristol, England. His early life was explored thoroughly. In fact, Grant’s whole life was given an in-depth look, something I’d not read before. There’s quite a lot about his early days in show business, working in vaudeville, and even as a stilt walker on Coney Island.

All the backstory is nice as it gives the reader the image of Archie Leach as a troubled youth, whose father was an alcoholic and who was told his mother died (when actually his father had her committed to an asylum), and his desperation to get the heck out of Bristol, see the world, make a name for himself, and most importantly, raise his way out of poverty.

Things pick up once Leach, renamed Cary Grant in his early days in Hollywood, arrives in Tinseltown. Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise painstakingly follows Grant’s journey from bit player to successful actor, to movie star, to legend. Every film is discussed in detail, even the stinkers like Howards of Virginia and Crisis. Most of the time, the author’s opinion of certain films does not shine through. Rather, it is through newspaper and magazine reviews as well as box office receipts that decides whether a Cary Grant film was good or not. Some of my favorite Grant films (Penny Serenade, People Will Talk, The Talk of the Town, The Grass is Greener, Charade, That Touch of Mink, Indiscreet, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House) were not commercial successes, or were successful but not well-thought of.

Besides an in-depth look at all of Grant’s movies, Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise also explores his private life in a tasteful manner. There’s been so much speculation about whether Cary Grant was a homosexual, even during his lifetime, that the issue could not go unaddressed. Each of Grant’s five marriages is explored, but I found that very little is said of his fourth wife, Dyan Cannon, who gave him his only child. Maybe it is because Cannon is still alive and already wrote about her life with Cary in Dear Cary: My Life with Cary Grant. Eyman does not come to any solid conclusions, but several of his friends later in his life described Grant as starting out gay, then bisexual, then straight. There’s a great quote from Betsy Drake that I saw on a TCM documentary some years ago: “Why would I believe that Cary was homosexual when we were busy F***ing?”  But she paused and then added, “Maybe he was bisexual. He lived 43 years before he met me. I don’t know what he did.”

Also explored is Grant’s use of the once-legal LSD as a way to overcome all the insecurities and darkness he held within. He used the drug more than 100 times, and he said the experiences made him a better person for it. But he was fiercely anti-drug, explaining that LSD wasn’t a drug, but a chemical.

And that is what the book ultimately shows: there were always two sides to Cary Grant. The image he projected as the suave, well-dressed, well-mannered man with a mid-Atlantic accent was just that. Deep inside he was still Archie Leach, the poor, insecure boy from Bristol who just wanted to make his parents proud.

I was also happy to see a lengthy section in Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise about his life after retirement. So often biographies in effect end once a person leaves the public eye. It was nice to read more about the post-movie Cary Grant, and his relationship with his daughter (who also wrote her own book about her dad some years back, Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant,) his work on several companies’ board of directors, his final, most satisfying marriage to Barbara Harris, and how he spent his final years.

Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise will be released to the general public October 20, 2020. I’ll definitely be adding it to my Hollywood biography section of my bookcase.
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Archie Leach had a lousy childhood. His disturbed mother, institutionalized when he was eleven, and his alcoholic father left him in perpetual anxiety. He became Cary Grant, suave, debonair, radiant, everything he wasn’t. He chose the acting profession for approval, adulation, admiration, and affection.
In his first year with Paramount, he didn’t impress anyone, but the studio saw possibilities. He made 73 movies. My favorites are Operation Petticoat, Father Goose, and That Touch of Mink, none of which supposedly were successes at the time.
Learning about a favorite actor can be disappointing. Grant was often petulant and complaining. He didn’t care how much override he cost a studio. He demanded a limo during To Catch a Thief, decided it was too pretentious and cancelled it, then a week later he wanted it back.
He self-diagnosed himself as a “series of contradictions.” While he fussed and fumed about directors, he was magnificent with children. He considered his greatest accomplishment his daughter Jennifer. Too bad he didn’t become a father as a younger man.
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Cary Grant by Scott Eyman

What an in-depth retrospection deep into a mans innermost self! I wonder if it was even possible for Archibald Alexander Leach aka Cary Grant to even discern what or who he was? What a tortured man to have self doubts of his own and constantly looking for approval, affection, and admiration. It’s as though him and his mother never formed a maternal bond and it’s called a a CAD child attachment disorder. This will affect behavior, with bonding, and new situations. This is exactly what the biographer describes in the book on how Mr. Grant feels at the beginning of doing interviews or before going on stage to deliver speeches. He also had relationship issues with having so many wives he could never emotionally attach himself or allow himself to open up speak freely of his private feelings and childhood. 
The author never ever made generalizations of Mr.Grants character or attack him in a personal vendetta unlike other biographies I have read in the past. He has documented thoroughly and has given all individuals who would have a vested interest in Mr.Grants life an opportunity to express notes, tidbits of emotions, and stories! He even broached the taboo of whether or not Mr.Grant was a bi-sexual or homosexual and I think with all the supporting documentation from collaborating reports from the individuals supposedly he was involved with, he is cleared of those activities. 
He was a proponent of LSD use for therapeutic use and encouraged several of his wives to partake of the practice. He would use the drug even without the presence of a doctor which could have been disastrous, but he was lucky in that respect. 
Cary Grant was loved by his fans and he loved the theatrical world. 
There was no doubt he loved his daughter Jennifer and his Stepson, Lance. He was bereft with grief when Lance had died. 
Cary Grant will go on living in people’s hearts and thoughts regardless of snippets of gossip of his stinginess or possibilities of sexual adventures. He has weaved his way into the hearts of the public because of his Mask & disguise he created for the world in his characters. We know Cary Grant the actor, the author of this biography gave us a remarkable lifestory of a confused boy, Archie Leach! 

I received an advanced copy from NetGalley and I willingly give my thoughts and opinions.
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The defining difference between this biography of Cary Grant and any other biographical documentary I have seen (I have never attempted to read a book version for a variety of reasons), seems to be Scott Eyman's aim. Clear from the very beginning, and remaining so with every page turned, Eyman lacks any sort of devious agenda — gossipy or pointed — other than forming an accurate-as-possible and utterly and incredibly detailed account of Cary Grant's life and work, mainly where those two intersect.

He never shies away from a topic, but neither does he wallow in the potential gossipy phrasing upon which so many biographers seem to depend — relishing hints of dirty secrets and leading the audience in their own desired direction rather than where ever the truth may be. Eyman, instead, seems to be a true fact finder, and approaches his subject so. Many Hollywood biographies are set on tearing people into pieces in order to get at the core of the subject. But Eyman, through detailing layer upon layer of information, bolsters Grant's legacy. Not because it was frail and in need of support, but by way of solidifying the image into a real human being. Turning him around so other facets could be visible finally. Shining light on sides of Grant previously hidden either by his own machinations or by a simple separation of time — he never worked in film while I've been alive.

Finally, what feels like a more complete picture of the famous Archie Leach.
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Scott Eyman's writing always brings alive the people he features in his books and Cary Grant is no exception. Grant, in his view, is a very complex and complicated figure who never settled the traumas inflicted on him in his youth. You won't get many definitive answers here which is probably an accurate depiction of Grant. Of course, the further away get from a person - the more difficult it is to obtain first hand accounts of them. I can't imagine there could be another biography of Grant after books written by both Dyan Cannon and their daughter, Grant's houseman and chauffeur, his friends and now this one. I've read just about every book written about Grant and I'd say this is one of the best thanks to Eyman's writing style and his ability to present facts and stories without fixing things to "square the circle." People are messy, If you love Grant, or Old Hollywood, don't pass up this book as "just another book on Grant." It may be the definitive look at the man and the actor.
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A wonderfully thoughtful book about Cary Grant that shows how human he was, his fears, his strength and what he cared about. I loved that the book goes in details about Grant’s child hood, film industry and his personal life without getting in the mud. I really like that it talk about his death and then became a reflection of one of the most beloved and famous actors of all time. There was a lot I didn’t know about him that I found intriguing ( how he used money, his insecurity about relationships and his past always influencing his present) and informative (Film making, people he worked with in film,  the chronicle of his life and the way he died) and all of this and more made this a wonderful read.
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Scott Eyman has tackled some huge Hollywood figures already (John Ford, John Wayne, Cecil B. DeMille, Louis B. Mayer). In his latest work, he takes on his most enigmatic subject. CARY GRANT: A BRILLIANT DISGUISE is essentially a biography of two people. There's Cary Grant, the embodiment of sophistication and grace. Before that he was Archibald Leach, mistrustful runaway from a broken home. How Leach invented Grant and the lifelong tension between both personas is the true subject of Eyman's definitive book.

Grant's early years at Paramount, when he was an impossibly handsome but somewhat stiff presence appearing opposite the likes of Marlene Dietrich and Mae West, are covered with Eyman pulling no punches. All rumors are addressed; any questions you might have about Grant's relationships with Randolph Scott and future Academy Award-winning costume designer Orry-Kelly will be answered. Eyman meticulously recounts how "Cary Grant" came to be, with a great deal of credit going to Leo McCarey, his director on 1937's THE AWFUL TRUTH. Grant retired from acting in 1966. The remaining twenty years in his life would flummox many authors but Eyman digs deep and produces the book's strongest section, exploring how Grant managed to achieve some degree of the happiness that had eluded him for so long. Perhaps the greatest movie actor of all time has the biography he deserves.
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Executive summary: “Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise,” the latest in Scott Eyman’s long series of Class-A Hollywood biographies, opens strong with the last day of the acclaimed actor’s life and quickly declines to a tedious slog in a book more like a catalog than a life story. Only for the most ardent Cary Grant fans, and even they will end up skipping sections and just thumbing through it to see what Eyman says about Grant being gay. Forthcoming from Simon and Schuster on Oct. 20, 2020; 576 pages, $35 for hardcover, $16.99 for Kindle.


Young Archie Leach, born in Bristol, England, in 1904, has a nightmarish childhood with terrible parents, finds refuge in the theater, comes to America, makes some lousy films that are mostly forgotten, and then goes on to fame and fortune in his carefully invented and nurtured persona of the always elegant and charming Cary Grant. He is tight with a dollar, painfully insecure, obsessed with his career and meticulous about his clothes. In later life, he becomes a father during his brief marriage to Dyan Cannon, takes LSD (lots of LSD) and in retirement watches TV game shows and gets his home remodeled.

What’s maddening about this book is that it begins so well and goes off a cliff so quickly. The majority of the manuscript doesn’t seem to have been written as much as it was assembled or compiled. “Brilliant Disguise” reads like a long catalog of details and trivial tidbits – an extended TCM intro and I can imagine the audio version being recorded by Ben Mankiewicz.

There are a few inevitable typos (Bernard Herrman and Bernard HerrmanN on the same page) and odd factual slips. Basil Rathbone, for example, is described as “a character actor” in the early 1930s, when he was still cast as a leading man. And Eyman can’t resist a cheap shot, sometimes picking an easy target like gossip columnist Louella Parsons or the unsophisticated hinterlands of America (“Nobody in Bakersfield had ever heard of a salad”). And a claim about Jean Harlow having an abortion is merely dropped in – a citation would have been appreciated.

Maybe you’re curious as to what Eyman says about whether Grant was gay. You’ll still be curious afterward, for there’s no strong conclusion one way or the other. Most people interviewed in the book say Grant wasn’t gay (and some are equally emphatic about long-rumored boyfriend Randolph Scott), but a few informants late in the book (Sue Lloyd and Bill Royce, two sources who may raise an eyebrow – at least they raised mine) say that Grant was gay or nonbinary, take your pick. These details are sprinkled throughout a fairly long text rather than being concentrated into a single chapter, so the book is unlikely to change anyone’s mind. As portrayed in the book, Grant was mostly in love with Cary Grant.

Grant was in some of the greatest films of the 20th century, but, to cite one example, Eyman treats “North by Northwest” mostly with gossipy little nuggets from the set rather than the making of a masterpiece of film. Do you care whether Grant was upset over Martin Landau getting his suit made by Grant’s tailor?  I don’t. (Odd note: Eyman’s bibliography doesn’t include Francois Truffaut’s book on Hitchcock, one of the finest books on film ever written).

This could have been a far better book. The opening scenes of Grant’s final appearance during a personal tour in Davenport, Iowa, are finely done. It’s as if this was a sample chapter (though I doubt Eyman needs to do sample chapters anymore) that is nothing like the rest of the manuscript. I’m not sure there is a compelling biography to be made from the life of Cary Grant, but this is not it.
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Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise by Scott Eyman is a fascinating and wide-ranging biography of Archie Leach/Cary Grant, but it is also a wonderful look at Hollywood, moviemaking and stardom, and the role they each play in American culture. I didn't grow up a fan of Cary Grant, and could only name North by Northwest as one of his movies prior to reading this book, so just about all the information was new to me, which made the book even better.

The author does a terrific job of telling the intimate stories of Archie Leach/Cary Grant through newspaper accounts, diaries, letters, telegrams, interviews, appearances and acquaintances. It's not a kiss-and-tell, and there's no gratuitous name-dropping that's become commonplace in star biographies. Instead is a clear look at a very flawed and complex man - one who chose, at an early age, to become someone else and spent the rest opting to  his know and like that man.

I'm not sure how much new information is in this book for Cary Grant superfans, but for someone with little knowledge of his personal life, demons and quirks, it was fascinating and more than enough to motivate me to watch several of his old films. IIf you're a fan of Old Hollywood, this book is a winner,

This review is based on an  advance copy read made possible by the publisher and Netgalley.
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Ah, what can I say about Cary Grant?  I loved this biography. It is well researched and written in a very engaging style. There is no aspect of his life that is unexplored. The author fills it with interesting anecdotes. 

I had the pleasure of meeting him in Las Vegas, shortly before his death. He came into a restaurant and literally stopped for 10 minutes to play with my 2 year old. He charmed her and I was absolutely ecstatic.  As a good fan, I chatted as if I had no idea who he was. My biggest regret is that it was before cell phones and cameras. 

I literally reveled in every page of this book. I will now do my official Cary Grant film festival and rewatch him in some of my favorite films. Last night was THAT TOUCH OF MINK, and tonight is my 1,000th viewing of The Philadelphia Story. 

For those who are students of social history, this will be a wonderful asset in examining the history of American film. 

Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to review this wonderful biography.
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Scott Eyman has written one of the most comprehensive and well-presented celebrity biographies I've ever read. The care and attention to detail that has been put into exploring and presenting all that was not only the Cary Grant persona but the reality of Archibald Leach are to be commended. Not content with just rehashing rumors and stories already shared, Eyman goes deep into every aspect of Grant's life and of everyone that had an impact in it. It's a truly in-depth look at the actor's life, persona, personality, and quirks that leaves no stone unturned.
The only reason this isn't a five-star read is also partly the reason why it's actually such a fantastic read in the first place, it meanders and digresses so much. It sometimes feels like almost every single person that ever had so much as the slightest interaction with Grant gets not only a mention but at least a paragraph if not a few pages. It's incredibly engrossing and made me look up some interesting individuals, but I'm not sure they were always necessary. 
Would it be too much of a contradiction to both praise how meticulous it is and criticize how much it goes into too many details? 

Many happy thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the chance to read and critique!
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I really liked this book. Watching some of Cary Grant's movies is the only thing that I knew about him-- which, of course, isn't knowing much at all, since those were all characters he portrayed. This book made me want to go back and watch a few of my favorite movies again  - as well as a couple of his that I wasn't even aware of. The author has done some incredible research -- the last 15% of the book is sources. Mr. Eyman explores the actor's life and philosophy about every subject under the sun and uses Cary's own words in many cases, since he was quoted often in interviews.. His view on death struck me -- that we just enter another room, where family and friends we have missed are waiting. My only complaint is that a few parts are TOO detailed -- some of the minutiae was information that didn't seem to add to the book. Definitely will recommend this book to anyone who is interested in biographies of 20th century people, film history, Hollywood's Golden Age, and of course, Cary Grant fans. Gives the reader a portrait of a funny/sad, thoughtful man. 

Thank you #netgalley for the ARC  in exchange for my honest opinion.
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