Sunday, January 27, 2013

Haunted Idol: The Story of the Real Cary Grant

1983, 1985 McGraw-Hill edition
Geoffrey Wansell
Haunted Idol: The Story of the Real Cary Grant
Original price $3.95, purchase price unknown
Worn paperback

The title sounds like the sort of low-budget '40s movie that Cary Grant would not have starred in, but Wansell sees the actor as haunted by his childhood, particularly the mental illness of his mother.  While there are times I felt sorry for Grant reading this book, I like him less because of it, mostly due to the way he treated his wives, especially Numbers 1 and 4, hitting them and limiting their freedom.  Wansell addresses the controversy over Grant's sexual orientation a couple times, to note rumors about Grant and live-in pal Randolph Scott, and Chevy Chase's homophobic remark which led to a slander suit that was settled out of court.  Wansell seems to think the fact that Grant was involved with so many women is answer enough, and doesn't consider the possibility that Grant was bisexual.

Grant suspected Wansell wanted to write about him because Grant was almost 80 and not likely to live much longer (he'd die the year after this edition came out), but it was more that Wansell found him a fascinating enigma.  Grant was always ambivalent about revealing his selves (there are a few "Archibald Leach" jokes in his movies), both fearing and desiring exposure, as with his medical experiments with LSD in the '50s.  I still enjoy the Cary Grant onscreen, in the more than a dozen of his movies I've seen, but it's a shame that he wasn't half as cool in real life as his costar and friend Rosalind Russell was.

Whew, only 30 years to go for this project!

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