Much has been written about Hollywood icon Cary Grant, whose legacy lives on through his family, friends, and film fans all over the world. To this day, he continues to inspire artists and performers as well as authors and scholars wishing to delve into his story. In 2020, two biographies about Grant were released: Mark Glancy’s Cary Grant, the Making of a Hollywood Legend and Scott Eyman’s Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise, both possessing their own differences and merits. This review focuses upon the former.
Glancy’s biography depicts the many challenges Grant faced as a child in Bristol, thoughtfully portraying Grant’s journey from Archie Leach and his many struggles to a reinvented, dashing Hollywood film star. Among these challenges are Grant’s mother and her struggle with mental illness, an impoverished childhood, and Grant’s expulship from school at age 14. Glancy draws from Grant’s personal papers to not only depict these struggles but to also portray his transitions from vaudeville and Broadway to the height of his stardom as a reputable actor.
Grant cemented his place in film history with successful film appearances in films such as Bringing Up Baby (1938), The Philadelphia Story (1940), Notorious (1946), An Affair to Remember (1957), North by Northwest (1959), Charade (1963), and many others. Though initially a contract star, Grant eventually took control of his creativity and career, as depicted in Glancy’s book.
Behind the scenes, Grant found happiness as a family man, having his first child–Jennifer Grant–at age 62. Grant’s influence as a father and strong presence in Jennifer’s life has led her to continue carrying on her beloved father’s legacy.
Glancy’s book works well as a supplement to Eyman’s depiction of Grant. Offering glimpses of Grant both inside and outside of studio walls, Glancy succeeds in culling together a cohesive book based upon Grant’s personal papers. While Glancy’s prose is not as inviting as Eyman’s, Glancy works to strike a balance between portraying Grant’s personal life and professional life. In doing so, however, Glancy occassionally becomes too focused upon film plots, which detracts from the narrative’s intended focus upon Grant. Nonetheless, if the reader is not familiar with the breath of Grant’s filmography, Glancy’s book steps in as a guide through Grant’s many works.
Cary Grant, the Making of a Hollywood Legend is available through Oxford University Press.