Cover Image: Cary Grant

Cary Grant

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I have had very few heroes In my life; I have even fewer heroes emerging out of Hollywood.  One of those very few is (was) Cary Grant. Scott Eyman has written a terrific biography not only about Cary Grant But also Grant’s alter ego, Archie Leach.  As biographies go, Mr. Eyman’s book takes a comprehensive look at the man born Archie Leach as he creates “ Cary Grant” the motion picture legend.   He explores at length the trauma of a tough childhood as well as the opulent lifestyle of a mega-wealthy superstar...his giving nature and his stinginess, his tenderness and his distance, his victories and failures.  Thanks to NetGalley I walked away from this biography feeling like I know a lot about Archie Leach and a little about Cary Grant, or rather, a lot about Cary Grant and a little about the man raised as Archie Leach! Excellent writing by Scott Eyman.
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I was fortunate to read a copy of ‘Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise’ from NetGalley. I am happy to say that this will be the definitve biography of Cary Grant. Extensively researched that draws from Grant’s private papers as well as interviews with family and friends, Eyman peels back the layers of the life of this Hollywood legend.
Archibald Leach was born in England and endured a childhood filled with sadness and poverty, had an early career as an acrobat in a dance troupe, worked his way through vaudeville and eventually became a Hollywood leading man. Throughout his life he tried to merge Archie and Cary and the conflicting pieces of his past and the life he was presently living. In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s he experimented with LSD in the hope that it would help him deal with the trauma of his childhood and the difficulties he had with relationships (Grant had married a total of five times).
With a career that stretched nearly four decades, making classic films with leading ladies the likes of Hepburn, Loren, Bergman, Kerr and Dunne and being a successful businessman, his greatest accomplishment was becoming a father to his only child, a daughter Jennifer, at the age of 62. Wanting to provide his daughter with a stable childhood, he retired from his acting career.
As an actor, Cary Grant could do it all. He had the looks, the style, the romantic, suave manner, great comedic timing and most of all, he made it look so easy. Hollywood just doesn’t make them like that anymore!
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Excellent biography that details Cary Grant's difficult childhood, early days in an acrobatic dance troupe, his stellar film career, five marriages and life in retirement. As the title implies, Cary Grant was a fabrication created by Archie Leach and that persona was one that he carried over into his private life, at least when he was interacting with others. In private, he was haunted by feelings of guilt toward his parents and he struggled to maintain relationships with women. 

Grant's film career is detailed and covers everything from his relations with co-stars on the set to his salaries. As his clout increased in Hollywood, he became demanding on the set and drove at least one director to hospitalization after they worked together. After retirement, Grant became disillusioned with the film industry and rarely discussed his life in films. A shrewd businessman, he became very wealthy but was also known as a notorious penny-pincher (he never picked up the tab when dining with friends and once offered Rosalind Russell the use of his Rolls-Royce but then casually added that she would have to pay a rental fee as well as the chauffeur's salary!). 

The lingering questions of Grant's sexuality is also addressed. Although seemingly brushed aside as a false rumor when discussing Grant's years living with Randolph Scott (the author annoying refers to Scott as “Randy”), a notable source is quoted as saying that Grant confessed to him that he was bi-sexual in his early days but straight in his later years. One of his most intense affairs was with Sophia Loren (while he was married to Betsy Drake) and he wanted to marry her but Loren was one of the few women who turned him down. After marriage, his wives would find him to be controlling (down to choosing their clothing) and averse to their working in the film industry.

Despite his flaws, Grant was known as an extremely kind and patient man, especially to children. One of the most interesting chapters discusses the minor details of his personality (what he liked to eat, the routine of his day, favorite tv programs, etc.)
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Cary Grant has a fascinating life story, and I love reading about the golden age of Hollywood through his eyes. I’ve read 4 or 5 biographies before so didn’t expect to be surprised by what I read here. Eyman took this covered material and made it fresh! Slightly long winded, but very well done.
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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Cary Grant has always been one of my favorite actors. Growing up my family used to have old movie nights and it was always extra exciting when it was one involving Cary Grant. My personal favorites have always been An Affair to Remember, Penny Serenade, Charade, and Arsenic and Old Lace. It was really great to see what Cary thought of all of these pictures as well as getting the insider look at what was going on in his personal life whole he was filming. Cary lead a very exciting life with multiple marriages, a hidden away parent, and a life on the stage 

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves old films, or even just like biographies. It only gets a 4 star from me for the simple fact that I wouldn't re-read it so I wouldn't classify it as a "love it", but don't let that dissuade you. This story is worth knowing and set around one of the classiest men of the era.
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'One doesn't direct Cary Grant.  One just puts him in front of a movie camera.'  (Alfred Hitchcock)

Cary Grant has always been one of my favorite movie stars.  I much prefer the old movies to anything new.  Much better made, better stars, with no vulgarity and profanity.  Cary Grant only had to stand still to exude sexiness.  I loved him in everything he did.  

This biography is well written and very in depth.  Fans of Cary Grant will definitely want to read this book.  I wish it had had more photos, though.  But I had a digital copy; perhaps the print copy has more photos.  

*My thanks to Simon & Schuster for a preview  copy of this book.  The opinion in this review is entirely my own.
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Interesting book, much more real information than the usual star bios.  This had some new and interesting insights into his character and his internal conflicts and it was obvious that the author had done extensive research.

My main complaint is that it is too long.  There are many parts where the financial deals are described in way too much detail.  But, that said, for a star book, it's good and I will look at his movies with new eyes.

The 3 star rating is actually a high rating for me for a star biography and I reserve the 4 and 5 star for documentary, history books or fabulous literary fiction.  If there were a 3 1/2, I would give it that rating.
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I received an advance reading copy of this book from NetGalley.com in return for a fair review. Cary Grant has always been a favorite of mine so I was genuinely interested in reading this biography. Scott Eyman did a magnificent job researching and bringing to life the many sides of a complex man. Cary Grant was born Archibald Leach in England. He spent his entire life trying to merge Cary and Archie. Eyman describes a childhood filled with sadness and poverty. Once Grant became a movie star, he tried his best to leave his youthful years behind, but it was impossible. As with most actors, some of his peers liked him and some didn't. One thing that really stands out in my mind is his relationship with children--especially those he worked with. They adored him. One child actor even invited him to his high school graduation many years after they had worked together. To the boy's delight, Grant came. Grant was also very dedicated to his stepson Lance Reventlow (from Barabara Hutton) and took care of all the arrangements when the young man was killed in a plane crash. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Eyman detailed many of Grant's famous movies, as well as his personal life and made me feel as if I had met the man. Very well done. I highly recommend it.
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5 Stars. A must-have for any classic film lover. Eyman approaches his subject with care, compassion and just the right amount of critique. Recommended!
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