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Spencer Tracy: A Biography

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“The best goddamned actor I’ve ever seen!”—George M. Cohan His full name was Spencer Bonaventure Tracy. He was called “The Gray Fox” by Frank Sinatra; other actors called him the “The Pope.” Spencer Tracy’s image on-screen was that of a self-reliant man whose sense of rectitude toward others was matched by his sense of humor toward himself. Whether he was Father Flanagan of “The best goddamned actor I’ve ever seen!”—George M. Cohan His full name was Spencer Bonaventure Tracy. He was called “The Gray Fox” by Frank Sinatra; other actors called him the “The Pope.” Spencer Tracy’s image on-screen was that of a self-reliant man whose sense of rectitude toward others was matched by his sense of humor toward himself. Whether he was Father Flanagan of Boys Town, Clarence Darrow of Inherit the Wind, or the crippled war veteran in Bad Day at Black Rock, Tracy was forever seen as a pillar of strength. In his several comedy roles opposite Katharine Hepburn (Woman of the Year and Adam’s Rib among them) or in Father of the Bride with Elizabeth Taylor, Tracy was the sort of regular American guy one could depend on. Now James Curtis, acclaimed biographer of Preston Sturges (“Definitive” —Variety), James Whale, and W. C. Fields (“By far the fullest, fairest, and most touching account . . . we have yet had. Or are likely to have” —Richard Schickel, The New York Times Book Review, cover review), gives us the life of one of the most revered screen actors of his generation. Curtis writes of Tracy’s distinguished career, his deep Catholicism, his devoted relationship to his wife, his drinking that got him into so much trouble, and his twenty-six-year-long bond with his partner on-screen and off, Katharine Hepburn. Drawing on Tracy’s personal papers and writing with the full cooperation of Tracy’s daughter, Curtis tells the rich story of the brilliant but haunted man at the heart of the legend. We see him from his boyhood in Milwaukee; given over to Dominican nuns (“They drill that religion in you”); his years struggling in regional shows and stock (Tracy had a photographic memory and an instinct for inhabiting a character from within); acting opposite his future wife, Louise Treadwell; marrying and having two children, their son, John, born deaf. We see Tracy’s success on Broadway, his turning out mostly forgettable programmers with the Fox Film Corporation, and going to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and getting the kinds of roles that had eluded him in the past—a streetwise priest opposite Clark Gable in San Francisco; a screwball comedy, Libeled Lady; Kipling’s classic of the sea, Captains Courageous. Three years after arriving at MGM, Tracy became America’s top male star. We see how Tracy embarked on a series of affairs with his costars . . . making Northwest Passage and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which brought Ingrid Bergman into his life. By the time the unhappy shoot was over, Tracy, looking to do a comedy, made Woman of the Year. Its unlikely costar: Katharine Hepburn. We see Hepburn making Tracy her life’s project—protecting and sustaining him in the difficult job of being a top-tier movie star. And we see Tracy’s wife, Louise, devoting herself to studying how deaf children could be taught to communicate orally with the hearing and speaking world. Curtis writes that Tracy was ready to retire when producer-director Stanley Kramer recruited him for Inherit the Wind—a collaboration that led to Judgment at Nuremberg, It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, and Tr


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“The best goddamned actor I’ve ever seen!”—George M. Cohan His full name was Spencer Bonaventure Tracy. He was called “The Gray Fox” by Frank Sinatra; other actors called him the “The Pope.” Spencer Tracy’s image on-screen was that of a self-reliant man whose sense of rectitude toward others was matched by his sense of humor toward himself. Whether he was Father Flanagan of “The best goddamned actor I’ve ever seen!”—George M. Cohan His full name was Spencer Bonaventure Tracy. He was called “The Gray Fox” by Frank Sinatra; other actors called him the “The Pope.” Spencer Tracy’s image on-screen was that of a self-reliant man whose sense of rectitude toward others was matched by his sense of humor toward himself. Whether he was Father Flanagan of Boys Town, Clarence Darrow of Inherit the Wind, or the crippled war veteran in Bad Day at Black Rock, Tracy was forever seen as a pillar of strength. In his several comedy roles opposite Katharine Hepburn (Woman of the Year and Adam’s Rib among them) or in Father of the Bride with Elizabeth Taylor, Tracy was the sort of regular American guy one could depend on. Now James Curtis, acclaimed biographer of Preston Sturges (“Definitive” —Variety), James Whale, and W. C. Fields (“By far the fullest, fairest, and most touching account . . . we have yet had. Or are likely to have” —Richard Schickel, The New York Times Book Review, cover review), gives us the life of one of the most revered screen actors of his generation. Curtis writes of Tracy’s distinguished career, his deep Catholicism, his devoted relationship to his wife, his drinking that got him into so much trouble, and his twenty-six-year-long bond with his partner on-screen and off, Katharine Hepburn. Drawing on Tracy’s personal papers and writing with the full cooperation of Tracy’s daughter, Curtis tells the rich story of the brilliant but haunted man at the heart of the legend. We see him from his boyhood in Milwaukee; given over to Dominican nuns (“They drill that religion in you”); his years struggling in regional shows and stock (Tracy had a photographic memory and an instinct for inhabiting a character from within); acting opposite his future wife, Louise Treadwell; marrying and having two children, their son, John, born deaf. We see Tracy’s success on Broadway, his turning out mostly forgettable programmers with the Fox Film Corporation, and going to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and getting the kinds of roles that had eluded him in the past—a streetwise priest opposite Clark Gable in San Francisco; a screwball comedy, Libeled Lady; Kipling’s classic of the sea, Captains Courageous. Three years after arriving at MGM, Tracy became America’s top male star. We see how Tracy embarked on a series of affairs with his costars . . . making Northwest Passage and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which brought Ingrid Bergman into his life. By the time the unhappy shoot was over, Tracy, looking to do a comedy, made Woman of the Year. Its unlikely costar: Katharine Hepburn. We see Hepburn making Tracy her life’s project—protecting and sustaining him in the difficult job of being a top-tier movie star. And we see Tracy’s wife, Louise, devoting herself to studying how deaf children could be taught to communicate orally with the hearing and speaking world. Curtis writes that Tracy was ready to retire when producer-director Stanley Kramer recruited him for Inherit the Wind—a collaboration that led to Judgment at Nuremberg, It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, and Tr

30 review for Spencer Tracy: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Charles Matthews

    This review originally appeared in an edited version in the Washington Post: Long before there was Branjelina, there was Spencenkate. The 26-year love affair and nine-film collaboration of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn is probably the one thing most people remember about the man theater legend George M. Cohan called in 1926, at the outset of Tracy's career, “the best goddamned actor I've ever seen.” The tribute was echoed by directors, colleagues, and audiences for the next 41 years. James This review originally appeared in an edited version in the Washington Post: Long before there was Branjelina, there was Spencenkate. The 26-year love affair and nine-film collaboration of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn is probably the one thing most people remember about the man theater legend George M. Cohan called in 1926, at the outset of Tracy's career, “the best goddamned actor I've ever seen.” The tribute was echoed by directors, colleagues, and audiences for the next 41 years. James Curtis's new biography is designed to end the partial eclipse of Tracy by the more vivid and long-lived Hepburn, though the book's enormous length may be a hindrance. Tracy deserves to be remembered for himself, as a master of acting technique whose essence Hepburn herself defined: “He never got in his own way. I still do.” John Ford, who directed Tracy's first feature film, “Up the River,” and one of his last, “The Last Hurrah,” agreed: “When I say Spencer Tracy is the best actor we ever had, I'm giving you something of my philosophy of acting. The best is most natural. Scenery never gets chewed in my pictures. I prefer actors who can just be.” Tracy's ability to “just be” is apparent when you think of such contemporaries of his as Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, James Stewart, and James Cagney. All of them are defined to some extent by mannerisms that lend themselves to caricature. But who has ever caricatured or imitated Spencer Tracy? Cagney himself saw this: “I'm easy to imitate, but you never saw anyone imitate Spencer Tracy. You can't mimic reserve and control very well.” Claudette Colbert, his co-star in “Boom Town,” recalled her big scene, in which she pulled out all the stops: “And after I stop on this high melodramatic note, he nods that big head of his a few times, sticks his chin out, looks up and away and murmurs, 'Yeah, yeah, I wouldn't know about that.' And steals the whole scene! Not a person in the audience will remember what I said. The way that man underplays everybody keeps the audience listening for him to speak.” Only Hepburn could upstage him, and Curtis tries hard to keep her from doing that. He postpones her entrance into the narrative for 400-some pages, and begins the book with a chapter on the other woman in Tracy's life: Louise Treadwell, who became Mrs. Spencer Tracy in 1923 and held on to the title that she prized for the next 44 years, even though they began to lead separate lives off and on as early as 1933. Tracy had affairs with Loretta Young, Joan Crawford, Ingrid Bergman, and Gene Tierney, among many others, but he was also an Irish Catholic with an advanced sense of guilt. And one source of that guilt was the congenital deafness of his son, John. Louise devoted her life (and much of Tracy's money) to the clinic that she founded to deal with childhood deafness. Tracy, however, had an emotionally distant relationship with John, and writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz believed that he blamed himself in some way for his son's deafness: “'He didn't leave Louise,' Mankiewicz said. 'He left the scene of his guilt.'” But they never divorced, partly because of his Catholicism, and partly because Hepburn wasn't interested in marrying him: “'I can't live with Spence,' she told their friend Bill Self, 'and he won't live with Louise.'” In the early 1950s Louise told a friend, “I think it would be sort of silly after all this time to divorce him.” The other dominant fact about Tracy's off-screen life was that he was, in the words of director Henry King, “an ugly drunk.” Actor David Wayne recalled the time Tracy laid waste to the taproom of the Lambs Club in New York: “The huge supply of liquor that was stacked behind the bar he swept off and hurled to the floor and about the room. It looked as if a hurricane had struck.” <348> But he alternated his binges with long periods of sobriety, going off the wagon for months, even years, before finally succumbing once again. After he met Hepburn, the sober periods increased their length, but the binges never disappeared, partly because, as Curtis comments, Hepburn “considered the abuse of alcohol a failure of the will” and not a disease. She encouraged him to drink in moderation, always a risk when, as one acquaintance observed, “all he needed was 'a dessert with rum in it' to set him off.” Curtis sees their relationship as very much to Hepburn's benefit. Dina Merrill, who worked with Tracy and Hepburn on “Desk Set,” said, “She was a mother hen.... It was like he was her child.” Writer Phoebe Ephron said Hepburn told her, “”I'm like a little fly that buzzes around him all the time, and every once in a while he gives me a good swat.” If that suggests either masochism on Hepburn's part or a physically violent relationship, it hasn't gone unnoticed. Curtis mentions the rumors of Tracy's hitting Hepburn, some of them while he was drunk. Hepburn's niece, Katharine Houghton, who starred with them in “Guess Who's Coming to Dinner,” dismisses these reports perhaps a bit too casually: “If he gave her a good whack … it's my suspicion that she asked for it. She was not a frail person.” She adds, “In the family we were all witnesses, from time to time, to her being maddeningly self-righteous and bossy, no doubt with good intentions, but still way out of line.” Curtis has done Tracy a service in drawing attention to the power and finesse of his work both together with and apart from Hepburn. Ernest Hemingway dismissed the Tracy-Hepburn films as “those toad-and-grasshopper comedies”, meaning it partly as a slur on Tracy, whom he disliked as “a man who could not hold his liquor” and thought miscast in “The Old Man and the Sea” – though he finally changed his mind about that film. But if Tracy is the solid, down-to-earth toad, and Hepburn the flighty, busy grasshopper, Curtis has done a good job of making us appreciate the virtues of the toad.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Loe

    You'll be as old and used up as Spencer Tracy was by the time you get to the end of this exhaustive biography. Curtis has done a phenomenal job of research, but some editing (repetitive quotes about Tracy being the greatest actor ever) and proof-reading (the Racket Club; having another thing coming; Ramon Navarro) would have made this book so much better. As with books I've read about Hepburn, by the time I finished, I didn't like Spencer Tracy very much. I think there must have been something ve You'll be as old and used up as Spencer Tracy was by the time you get to the end of this exhaustive biography. Curtis has done a phenomenal job of research, but some editing (repetitive quotes about Tracy being the greatest actor ever) and proof-reading (the Racket Club; having another thing coming; Ramon Navarro) would have made this book so much better. As with books I've read about Hepburn, by the time I finished, I didn't like Spencer Tracy very much. I think there must have been something very corrosive about the studio system on one's psyche. But I did appreciate very much the dissection of the strengths and weaknesses of previous Hepburn and Tracy bios. Curtis clearly knows his subject and his is the definitive biography.

  3. 4 out of 5

    GoldGato

    Mama mia, this was a lonnnnnng book. Really, really long. It literally took me months to complete. Now with that said, I feel I can safely proclaim it the ultimate biography on Spencer Tracy, still considered by many to be one of, if not the very best, of the American screen actors. Since the advent of the ever emotive Method actors, the low-key skillset of the "Spence" has a tendency to be overlooked, but he was really quite wonderful. "Acting is not the noblest profession in the world, but there Mama mia, this was a lonnnnnng book. Really, really long. It literally took me months to complete. Now with that said, I feel I can safely proclaim it the ultimate biography on Spencer Tracy, still considered by many to be one of, if not the very best, of the American screen actors. Since the advent of the ever emotive Method actors, the low-key skillset of the "Spence" has a tendency to be overlooked, but he was really quite wonderful. "Acting is not the noblest profession in the world, but there are things lower than acting - not many, mind you, but politicians give you something to look down on from time to time." (Spencer Tracy) He wasn't much to look at, so he couldn't skate by on his looks. He had a basic early 20th-Century American childhood, then married and scraped by in a plethora of stage productions that took him cross-country. The advent of sound in movies also meant a chance for him, as he was one of the few to have actual acting experience which he had honed down, even in the theatre, to the bare necessities. But it wasn't until MGM got a hold of him that he became a star. Officially on February 10, 1938, the MGM accounting department re-classified him as a STAR. He would remain as their longest tenured above-the-title superstar, long after the others had faded away. But Mr. Tracy was not a happy man. He hid his uncertainties and lack of confidence behind an Irish temperament which resulted in massive binges that created delays on film sets and earned him a reputation as a trouble-maker. The arrival of Katharine Hepburn probably saved his career, as she settled him down and gave him what he could not find in his own family. It's not a good view of Tracy, but it's an honest one. He never divorced his wife and continued to see his family, but his constant uneasiness made him a difficult man to live with, even for Hepburn. He held himself responsible for his only son's deafness, no doubt due to the way Tracy held his Roman Catholic teachings on a pedestal. The great cinema actor originally wanted to be a priest (and he ended up playing a few on screen). As I said, this is a huge book. If you are a Spencer Tracy fan, this is your bible. If not, it's a great way to learn more about his life, his movies, his romance with Hepburn, and what made him tick. For me, the book really started getting interesting at the halfway point, when his alcoholism and his MGM contract and Woman Of The Year elevate the previous life story. This made the rest of the book quite enjoyable as quite frankly you just don't know what Tracy was going to do next. He was constantly on the move, taking so many ships across the pond to Europe, that I lost track. It simply never occurred to me that the most American of the silver screen actors was also the most travelled. The book also made me aware of just how few Tracy movies I have seen, just three, so off to the revival screens and downloads for more. Great actor, unpleasant man. I guess most of the great ones end up that way. If Clark Gable was the steak of the Golden Age of Hollywood, then Spencer Tracy was its baked potato. "There's something about the great American actor that's like a clipper ship in action, a sort of heart's directness. Spencer has it." (Katharine Hepburn) Book Season = Year Round (could take all 12 months to read)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Liane

    The front cover is the best thing about the book. Fabulous photo. Frankly, his wife Louise is more interesting than he is. She was highly intelligent and wrote beautifully. Really first class stuff. Those who met her thought she was easy to talk to, well-informed, and very good looking. Supposedly Tracy's flings were caused by his guilt that his son was born deaf. I think his wife's evaluation was better - they had grown apart because they didn't have a whole lot in common. I am not sure being ma The front cover is the best thing about the book. Fabulous photo. Frankly, his wife Louise is more interesting than he is. She was highly intelligent and wrote beautifully. Really first class stuff. Those who met her thought she was easy to talk to, well-informed, and very good looking. Supposedly Tracy's flings were caused by his guilt that his son was born deaf. I think his wife's evaluation was better - they had grown apart because they didn't have a whole lot in common. I am not sure being married to a writer would have been any better [think Hemingway or Cheever]but she certainly would have had something to talk to them about. The book is crammed with names, some of it is interesting, some a bit routine. Tracy was clearly an excellent actor but his drinking caused misery, mostly to himself. Two of the best Hollywood/acting/drinking books were David Niven's - because he knew how to laugh. There is no warmth to this story.

  5. 4 out of 5

    August

    Fantastic bio but also exhaustive in length. The book is extraordinarily well written, which is not usually the case with Hollywood biographies. If you are a Spencer Tracy fan, much like my self, this book is written for you. It's a fun read and I took the time to revisit some great Tracy- Hepburn films as they came up in the biography. Fantastic bio but also exhaustive in length. The book is extraordinarily well written, which is not usually the case with Hollywood biographies. If you are a Spencer Tracy fan, much like my self, this book is written for you. It's a fun read and I took the time to revisit some great Tracy- Hepburn films as they came up in the biography.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    An amazing book, about an equally amazing actor. I highly recommend this book!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nicola Pierce

    Absolutely glorious read. Cried my eyes out when I finished it last night and feel like starting it all over again this morning. Can't say fairer than that! Absolutely glorious read. Cried my eyes out when I finished it last night and feel like starting it all over again this morning. Can't say fairer than that!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    James Curtis has written one meticulously researched book on Spencer Tracy, a man who some consider the greatest actor America ever produced. Those two Oscars and seven other nominations certainly attest to what his colleagues thought of him. Spencer Bonaventure Tracy was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to an Irish immigrant family. His father John Tracy was a trucking company executive as soon as automobiles started being mass produced. As a kid he was a wild youth, enlisted in the Navy along with ano James Curtis has written one meticulously researched book on Spencer Tracy, a man who some consider the greatest actor America ever produced. Those two Oscars and seven other nominations certainly attest to what his colleagues thought of him. Spencer Bonaventure Tracy was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to an Irish immigrant family. His father John Tracy was a trucking company executive as soon as automobiles started being mass produced. As a kid he was a wild youth, enlisted in the Navy along with another youthful friend William J. O'Brien who later changed his first name to Pat when he went into acting. That was Tracy's ambition and if he hadn't discovered theater who knows what kind of hellion life style he might have adopted. He discovered alcohol early on it was a constant demon to him his whole life though it never interfered with a stage or screen performance. One early influence was George M. Cohan whose later works on Broadway Tracy appeared in. He proclaimed and might have been the first one to say that Spencer Tracy was the greatest actor he ever saw. The coming of sound to movies had the studios scouring for actors with stage trained voices. Tracy just came off his greatest stage role in The Last Mile about a group of death row inmates in prison. His reviews were sensational and earned him a contract with Fox Films. During his years with Fox with rare exceptions Tracy played mostly rugged adventurer types with a gangster or two tossed in. He was a B film actor and when he went to MGM in 1935 it would be more of the same until 1936 when Jeanette MacDonald requested him for her film San Francisco where he would play a priest. He got his first Oscar nomination for playing Father Mullin and it opened whole new vistas for him. Two back to back Oscars came in 1937 and 1938 for Captains Courageous as the Portuguese fisherman Manuel Fidelio and for playing another priest Father Flanagan in Boys Town. His reputation as king of his art was secure. Tracy was a practicing Catholic and it may have been the reason he drank excessively. He had married actress Louise Treadwell while on stage and they had two kids, John and Susan. John Tracy was born deaf and Spence couldn't handle it. He drank and philandered, but as both were good Catholics divorce was not in the cards. Louise devoted herself to her kids and the John Tracy clinic for the deaf she established. Spence gave of his time and money to fund raise. In 1941 he was teamed with Katherine Hepburn for the first time in Woman Of The Year and the philandering was limited to one and only one after that. Yet such was the respect that both were held in that the gossip columnists never wrote of them in personal terms. They were described as good friends who liked to make movies together as a screen team. They did 9 of them. Unlike a lot of his contemporaries Tracy had no problems or qualms about transitioning into character parts as he got older. He disdained the use of make up except on rare occasions.. He was ready to retire in 1959 when he was tapped by Stanley Kramer to do Inherit The Wind a play about the famous Scopes Monkey Trial of the 20s. He co-starred with Fredric March and these two acting heavyweights are still a sight to see. All but one of his few remaining films would be with Stanley Kramer. His last was Guess Who's Coming To Dinner co-starring Katherine Hepburn and Tracy was dying as he made it. He had all kinds of heart and pulmonary problems by that time. Within two weeks of the completion of Guess Who's Coming To Dinner he died. As he got older and sicker he became a brooding misanthropic soul. He never divulged trade secrets of his work. "Learn your lines and don't bump into the furniture" was his standard answer to those who wanted to enter the theater. A bone of contention between Tracy and Hepburn was the fact that she did a lot of stage work including Shakespeare festivals and she couldn't get Tracy interested in the classics. There ain't a Spencer Tracy performance that I ever disliked. Even when the film was mediocre, he's always great. Even with no dialog he dominates the screen. This book is a must for fans of Spencer Tracy.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    This will probably be the definitive biography. I just finished Mann's biography of Katharine Hepburn, and picked this up to read "the other side", as it were. There is an epilogue in which Curtis discusses Mann's work, and pretty much demolishes the latter's conclusion that Hepburn and Tracy were closeted homosexuals who essentially had a sexless relationship. However, Curtis does skate around their prolonged separations in the 1950s. Anyway. The strength of the book is his descriptions of Tracy This will probably be the definitive biography. I just finished Mann's biography of Katharine Hepburn, and picked this up to read "the other side", as it were. There is an epilogue in which Curtis discusses Mann's work, and pretty much demolishes the latter's conclusion that Hepburn and Tracy were closeted homosexuals who essentially had a sexless relationship. However, Curtis does skate around their prolonged separations in the 1950s. Anyway. The strength of the book is his descriptions of Tracy at work, both with and without Hepburn. I thought Tracy sounded a lot like Richard Burton (who admired him). He knew he was talented --- hell, how couldn't he? --- but had a great deal of trouble integrating acting into what might be called a "normal" life. Hepburn rejected the idea of a husband and family, and broke the one marriage she had early on in her career. Tracy never did. He had married Louise Treadwell after a whirlwind courtship when each was a young actor. Their first child, John, was famously born deaf. Louise responded by leaving her career and eventually creating the John Tracy School. It helped both deaf children and their parents. She never forgot how hard the early years with her son were and the crippling isolation she felt as the mother of a special needs child. Thanks to Louise's hard work and relentless dedication to her son, both the boy and countless other families were helped to productive lives. Meanwhile, Tracy descended into an alcoholism that was clearly genetic but nonetheless caused him enormous guilt. He and Hepburn blamed his drinking bouts upon his deep-rooted belief that his sins had caused John's deafness. Tracy was unfaithful to Louise from the beginning of their marriage, a pattern that continued in his life until his own ill health made conquests impossible. The list of actresses at MGM who succumbed to his charms is long; the most important was Hepburn, but he also seduced Ingrid Bergman. Late in life he was confronted with the 1943 class picture of MGM stars. Tracy nudged a co-worker and slyly began indicating which of the women had slept with him by pointing to them. Louise and Spencer Tracy never divorced, partly because of John and in Curtis' opinion, partly because of Tracy's Irish Catholicism. Tracy seems to have had a firm conception of sin. He discussed it with Katharine Houghton and priest Eugene Kennedy in the last years of his life, and it does seem to have kept him from the final dissolution of his marriage. Hepburn had no real desire to be married, although Louise's famous line "I thought you were a rumor" sent the grieving star into a full-on rage. What struck me, though not Curtis, is that Hepburn's first picture after Tracy's death was The Lion in Winter. Eleanor of Aquitaine is a great part, but the plot of the movie must have struck an uneasy chord. Eleanor and her husband Henry II have lived apart for years, much as the Tracys did. Each man has a mistress. I wonder if Katharine Hepburn ever thought about Louise Tracy. In any event, Curtis' discussion of Roman Catholicism is cursory, which makes Tracy's adherence to it a little odd for the general reader. Fortunately, his descriptions of the ins and outs of a substantial film career are not. Tracy's progression from Fox studios to Metro and then as a free agent is graphed with great detail and wonderful anecdotes. Curtis also understands the movies Tracy made and what place they occupied in the creation of the Tracy legend. He was an actor's actor, and even in the occasional bad movie he made always gave a good performance. Very interesting read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    I don't suppose anyone ever chooses to read a biography of someone they don't like or aren't interested in. That said, I was inclined to like this book because I am a Tracy devotee. Curtis' research was deep and wide and unlike others here, the length of this book did not bother me. In fact, all the details boosted my confidence in his work and gave me tremendous insight into Tracy's life and career. Spencer Tracy was not the sterling man, but he was an astounding actor. Curtis told us about both I don't suppose anyone ever chooses to read a biography of someone they don't like or aren't interested in. That said, I was inclined to like this book because I am a Tracy devotee. Curtis' research was deep and wide and unlike others here, the length of this book did not bother me. In fact, all the details boosted my confidence in his work and gave me tremendous insight into Tracy's life and career. Spencer Tracy was not the sterling man, but he was an astounding actor. Curtis told us about both, and I am grateful.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elanorel_Kroos

    I thought this is a very calculated book to show Spencer Tracy's flaws. If the Bio just glorify Lousie, then I am just Ok with that, because author has the cooperation with Susie, her daughter, or just author's personal preference. (Who said author of a Bio must be objective? In fact, I notice hardly any Kate's Bio is objective with ST.) Last or two weeks, I just open the bio to double-check sth, then I notice several very interesting details. They are so trivial that none of the review once brin I thought this is a very calculated book to show Spencer Tracy's flaws. If the Bio just glorify Lousie, then I am just Ok with that, because author has the cooperation with Susie, her daughter, or just author's personal preference. (Who said author of a Bio must be objective? In fact, I notice hardly any Kate's Bio is objective with ST.) Last or two weeks, I just open the bio to double-check sth, then I notice several very interesting details. They are so trivial that none of the review once bring up. I felt sick that I began to wonder how many details about Spencer's family life is truth rather than the stories just to appear on the book or media. Nowadays most fans of Spencer or Kate Hepburn know that after he found his son was born with deaf, he felt it's his sin and he distanced himself from Johnny and his family. But what the truth behind? These details follow: First, after Johnny had learned the ability to lip-read, he still couldn't build a communication with his father, Lousie said Spencer has a habit that whole his life he was unable to discard, and thus prevent Spencer from building communicating with his son. That was, when Spencer talked, he liked to put his hand on his lip that Johnny couldn't read his lip and failed to understand his father. Lousie also comment that she had reminded Spencer several times, but Spencer would put the hand on the lip just after a couple of minutes. Why the author or Lousie just think that readers would believe such nonsense? Or how could a common person has this kind of habit? I am not a frantic fan of Spencer. I began to know sth. about him for I am a fan of Kate. But I have been through most of his photo on set or just with his friend, much shows Spencer chat with people. Even Kate once release a video of them then you can see Spencer talks. But none of these photos and video could verify that Spencer Tracy has such habit! Or if just as Lousie said he could remove this habit, then I thought he will behave like that in some of his movies. But none. He is one of the most talented actors in Hollywood history, he could complete most scene just first try, does anyone notice this habit in his movie? Second, in this Bio author details the first time Johnny began to talk, he said Mama and Lousie was so enthusiastic. Spencer was supposed to work at that time. Then the author never brings up what's Spencer's reaction when he learned this BIG NEWS. After just one or two pages, the author said that one family teacher or sb. said Johnny could understand such very simple words like wipe your mouth. Or one or two pages before this, Pat Obrien recalled when Spencer told him that he was moved that at night Johnny was waiting for him. BUT there is none about how Spencer felt when learning this very important moment of Johnny's life. The author put too much details in this bio, even how much money Spencer once loaned from someone. Why this is missing? I don’t think he didn't know or Lousie didn’t told him in the first place. that's impossible. Then another one, Lousie describe that Spencer couldn't talk to Johnny, that he would do antics, he showed off what John could do and he put one makeups. I can't verify the first two, but makeup, I doubt. Spencer is the kind of actor disliking makeup that he even refused to wore makeup in the film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. then is it very likely that he would wore makeup when he was with Johnny? After I read every blood detail, my conclusion was that this Bio is a calculated one to show his family life, some was fabricated, and some was omitted deliberately. This bio is some kind story told most by Lousie, then you get all the problems and faults attribute to Spencer Tracy. But Spencer didn't have the chance to tell his story for he didn't live long enough, or he couldn't. I also have some doubt about his drinking. Most bio told us that Spencer began to drink in 1920s. There is a Prohibition in US from 1920s to early 1930s. I don't think people like Spencer would get alcohol easily in that decade. They need to spend a lot money and try perhaps hard not to be caught by police. In the novel , it is speculated that Gatsby took advantage of Prohibition by making a fortune from Bootlegging. While I don't doubt when he began to drink, I just want to know more how he did that. There are also several relatives and good friend of Spence I found interesting. For Susie, the author gives limited space for her. But the author has her cooperation and should have known at least more story about her. But author failed to tell me how Susie felt when Spencer was ill or dying in his last 5 years. When he was taken to hospital in 1963, author just told us Lousie got there the first day and nothing about Susie. When Spence was almost dying in 1965, the author even put on the paper that Johnny comment Lousie is not the kind of person who put their emotion on face. But again, not more about Susie. I really want to know about more the relationship between Spence and his children. To me it will provide more insight about Spencer's real relationship with his family and with Lousie. But it never came. It failed to convince me that he still got on well with his family. But well, Susie showed up in the Academy with Lousie to want to pick up the awards. Bill Self, the person who claimed to be the friend of Spencer, Kate and Lousie. the author said Bill ask him to do a bio of Spencer, that they are friend for more than 25 years. Well, seems rather moving. And there is also a lot of intimate things that any one of the three told him, especially that Spence asked him to look for a house and want to live with him or sth that Kate told him. But he disappeared as well when Spencer was in his last years. And it occured to me that when Kate did the Spencer Tracy Legacy in 1986, Bill wasn't among the honored guest. btw, I have one photo of one of Spencer's letters concerning his residence in 1951. In this letter he wrote to sb. said that "a certain Touring actress will be pleased to know that the sun hits this property regularly once a week" and "We guarantee that this spot will be as healthful as Connecticut, hurricanes, tidal waves, and all.". This letter began with "Dear Corse" and end with Mr. Spencer Tracy. I thought the author forgot to tell the reader that Bill is on board of JTC. Well there are also someone else, but the author failed to convince me that they really cared for Spencer Tracy. Then why Lousie the Saint are surrounded by them? I thought genuine person are more likely to close to the Saint. I read a story yesterday from Jean Negulesco, a friend of Spencer. When he wrote that after funeral, he and some friends visited Kate and said angrily: "How could Spence do this to us?", I am touched. And, I have another curiousness towards ST. I know he was a devout Catholic, and it seems natural to me what's his attitude about Second Vatican Council is very interesting and important, which represent the modernization of Catholism. The Council took place in 1962 to 1965. He was ill at that time, I don't think he don't know the Council. One of my catholic friend told me the church changed a lot after that and much traditional Catholics felt betrayed or abandoned by their faith. But the author never brings it up. As for Lousie, she is certainly not among human race, because human has their shortcomings. I felt irritating the author tried very hard to emphasize that Lousie has similar feature that Kate holds. Not for I think Kate is perfect, she has many flaws. Spencer told his friend Myrna Loy that he found the woman he wants, and he listed some virtues of her. The underlying logic was that he perhaps had some ideal woman in his mind, and the women he met before were not that type, definitely not like Katharine Hepburn. It took me days to try to make out why author and Lousie stab Spence in the back, not simply in order to build a Saint. I still give 5 stars because I wish one day the truth about Spence and JTC will come then I could change it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    judy

    I picked this up because I was desperate to have books on hand during the holidays when the library was closed. I'm not a particular fan of movies and have not, regrettably, seen Tracy's best work. I had no idea he was regarded by many of his peers as America's best actor. I started this 878 page book with no intention of finishing it. However, I did finish it--easily. This is and will be the definitive biography of Tracy. The sources are impeccable. I won't claim that it's wildly exciting--Trac I picked this up because I was desperate to have books on hand during the holidays when the library was closed. I'm not a particular fan of movies and have not, regrettably, seen Tracy's best work. I had no idea he was regarded by many of his peers as America's best actor. I started this 878 page book with no intention of finishing it. However, I did finish it--easily. This is and will be the definitive biography of Tracy. The sources are impeccable. I won't claim that it's wildly exciting--Tracy was only that way on camera. It is an unusually complete story moving steadily through Tracy's life. The horrible studio system, his mastery of each of his 75 movie roles, the admiration he earned from the great actors of a Golden Era and the personal Tracy with his own weaknesses, hypochondria and Catholic guilt make an interesting story. Hepburn is there but I'm inclined to think of their relationship as co-dependent rather than a monumental love. His wife was an extraordinary woman and, understandably, the link between them was never completely broken. Worth the time to read the 878 pages.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Faustine Vaughn

    I don't know why I've been reading more biographies lately, but this is twice in a row I've been burned. I thought this might be a fun way to learn more about an actor I've always admired, but OMG the level of inane boring detail is beyond ridiculous. Not content to merely mention the movies Tracy stars in, it goes into exhaustive detail about the producers, the directors, the politics behind the movies, the dialogue of his character in the movie, the reactions of audiences to the movies, and on I don't know why I've been reading more biographies lately, but this is twice in a row I've been burned. I thought this might be a fun way to learn more about an actor I've always admired, but OMG the level of inane boring detail is beyond ridiculous. Not content to merely mention the movies Tracy stars in, it goes into exhaustive detail about the producers, the directors, the politics behind the movies, the dialogue of his character in the movie, the reactions of audiences to the movies, and on and on and on and on. I find myself just wanting to read about Tracy and his personal life, and am fast forwarding through vast sections of book to find tiny paragraphs to keep me reading. If I don't get to the section on Hepburn soon, I'm calling it quits completely.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Franny

    One of the best biographies I have ever read, if not the best. I am a devout Hepburn/Tracy fan and Curtis did Spencer justice on many levels. Furthermore, it is very well written and researched. I also have to give Curtis props for his note regarding the biographies of Katharine Hepburn at the end.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sherrie74

    This was about the best biography I have ever read on a celebrity ever. So full of information about all of his movies and co-star and his life in general. Already knowing a lot of his past and his life this book helped to fill in a lot more gaps.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    Excellent biography which is even more fun if accompanied by YouTube clips of the cited movies. I had no idea he was supposed to be one of the greatest actors. Now I see why.

  17. 4 out of 5

    John Kenrick

    Excellent bio of a unique Hollywood icon There are all sorts of controversies regarding Spencer Tracy, particularly in regards to his drinking and his longtime relationship with Kate Hepburn. This author resolutely sticks to solid sources - including Tracy's daily diary, and rarely referenced interviews with key people. The result is one great biography, thoroughly researched and beautifully written. The author does suffer a serious blind spot on the subject of Tracy's sexual issues -- but docume Excellent bio of a unique Hollywood icon There are all sorts of controversies regarding Spencer Tracy, particularly in regards to his drinking and his longtime relationship with Kate Hepburn. This author resolutely sticks to solid sources - including Tracy's daily diary, and rarely referenced interviews with key people. The result is one great biography, thoroughly researched and beautifully written. The author does suffer a serious blind spot on the subject of Tracy's sexual issues -- but documents his objections to other biographies. However, many men of Tracy's generation lived more ambiguously than we now realize -- many had a mistress and a boyfriend as well as a wife and kids. And they made damn sure to leave no written evidence of the boyfriends. Other than that, this is the thorough bio that Tracy has long deserved. Well worth reading, especially for film lovers.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cathy Biggers

    This biography was extremely detailed - so much so that even an avid reader such as I had to slog through it at times. Think the author could have left off many of the details in the initial stages of Spencer Tracy's stage career and possibly even in the later years. So many of these people are gone now and mean little to those not brought up in the world of stage and screen. But the intricate details of his private life and while making many of his movies was entertaining. This biography was extremely detailed - so much so that even an avid reader such as I had to slog through it at times. Think the author could have left off many of the details in the initial stages of Spencer Tracy's stage career and possibly even in the later years. So many of these people are gone now and mean little to those not brought up in the world of stage and screen. But the intricate details of his private life and while making many of his movies was entertaining.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Paul Anderson

    Massive book not done with it yet! Extremely in-depth.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Matt Isenhower

    A great wrong has been righted. In my very first "Holy Bee Recommends" column on my Wordpress site, I recommended exploring the work of Spencer Tracy, one of the greatest film actors of the 20th century, but one who didn't have an outsized persona (like Bogart or Wayne) to turn him into an icon. Tracy was one of the first actors to abandon the stagy, over-the-top "hammy" acting that make old movies seem dated and hokey to modern audiences. He was a champion of underplaying and total naturalness A great wrong has been righted. In my very first "Holy Bee Recommends" column on my Wordpress site, I recommended exploring the work of Spencer Tracy, one of the greatest film actors of the 20th century, but one who didn't have an outsized persona (like Bogart or Wayne) to turn him into an icon. Tracy was one of the first actors to abandon the stagy, over-the-top "hammy" acting that make old movies seem dated and hokey to modern audiences. He was a champion of underplaying and total naturalness in performance. He loudly (and usually profanely) dismissed "technique" and Method acting, but his casualness toward his craft was totally feigned -- he prepared for every role with an exhausting intensity, and had a long, grueling background through the 1920's and early 30's in live theater -- summer stock, touring companies, Broadway flops, off-Broadway flops, and a handful of successes that got the attention of Hollywood. There he served an apprenticeship all over again, appearing in dozens of fourth-billed "hero's best friend" roles until he finally broke through in 1936, co-starring with Clark Gable in the epic San Francisco, and receiving his first Academy Award nomination. He won for the following year's Captains Courageous, and again the next year for Boys Town, making him the first to win Best Actor Oscars two years in a row. His crippling addiction to alcohol soon made him look older than his years, and his roles often walked a fine line between "leading man" and "grizzled character actor," but he managed it gracefully all the way through his last performance in 1967's Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, a role he completed seventeen days before his death (and which netted him another -- posthumous -- Oscar nomination.) He's kind of forgotten today, to the point that there was only one biography of him (that's the great wrong), the long out-of-print Spencer Tracy: Tragic Idol, a lazy paste-up job compiled by show-biz writer Bill Davidson (also author of the definitive Gary Coleman bio), full of half-truths and misinformation. Well, now Tracy finally gets the full scholarly treatment, and it reminds me to be careful what I wish for. Curtis errs on the side of total inclusion of everything. Six hundred-plus pages of what can be pretty dry reading, especially in Tracy's early years. Curtis gives us full cast lists and technical details of plays that Tracy spent a few weeks performing, long speculations on the root cause of Tracy's struggle with alcohol, and minutiae on his real estate holdings and finances. I guess I'd rather have it in there than not, but it makes for a long read that really feels long. Curtis is at his best when he explores the complicated relationship between Tracy and his wife Louise. Although both were actors, they were a mismatched pair and the hasty marriage soon failed. Tracy was a Catholic, and it was a particularly dark and self-flagellating form of Catholicism that he practiced. He truly believed that his only son, John, was born deaf as a punishment for his own moral failings. He would not accept the possibility of divorce, so Tracy and his wife agreed to pursue their separate lives while remaining legally married. Louise Tracy threw herself into founding and running the John Tracy Clinic -- which continues to treat hearing-impaired children to this day -- and Spencer Tracy continued to build his legendary acting career, all the while fighting self-destructive demons of guilt. The demons were not vanquished even when he met the true love of his life -- Katharine Hepburn, his on-screen and off-screen partner of twenty-six years -- but at least they were stilled a little. So, if you have a couple of months, read the book. Better yet, watch one of his movies.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Toni McCloe

    An amazing story about an amazing man.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cathi

    First of all, I have to say that I like Spencer Tracy. He was a great actor who made some fantastic movies. I love his natural style of acting, and I also love the fact that he looks like an average guy. (Not exactly Cary Grant or Gregory Peck.) So when my son gave me this biography, I was curious. Would I still like the guy after reading a huge book about him? Sadly, I now have a lot of pity for a guy who had huge battles with alcohol for most of his life. That rotten alcohol aged him and ruine First of all, I have to say that I like Spencer Tracy. He was a great actor who made some fantastic movies. I love his natural style of acting, and I also love the fact that he looks like an average guy. (Not exactly Cary Grant or Gregory Peck.) So when my son gave me this biography, I was curious. Would I still like the guy after reading a huge book about him? Sadly, I now have a lot of pity for a guy who had huge battles with alcohol for most of his life. That rotten alcohol aged him and ruined his health, and it is sad to think about. I also pity a guy who made some stupid choices and who agonized over them throughout his life. His strong belief in Catholicism loaded him with a heavy case of guilt (guilt which he never really dealt with properly)and between that and the alcohol, he was often an emotional, spiritual, and mental mess. So sadly, I now know a whole lot more about this lovable/not-so-lovable Irish Catholic guy who became one of America's greatest actors. And strangely, enough, I still like him. As for the book, well, it's WAY too long and detailed. I like Tracy, but I don't need to read nearly 900 pages about him! So after about page 300, I stopped reading every single word and started skimming. Whew! That made it much easier. I enjoyed reading a lot of interesting anecdotes about the making of some of my favorite movies. I also liked learning about Tracy's son John and the challenge of his deafness, both for himself and also for his parents. Louise Tracy (Spencer's wife who would never divorce him) became a wonderful advocate for children born with hearing loss and other disabilities. She accomplished some amazing things, especially for that time period.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    An all encompassing biography (nearly 900 pages) of arguably the greatest actor cinema has seen. Having seen most of Tracy's films I would certainly agree.No one could act or react with out so much as saying a word as could Tracy;but when he did speak it was with a naturalness and authenticity that could not be denied. Curtis recounts Tracy's humble beginnings and rise to stardom in Hollywood until his death as one of Americas great screen idols. Behind the scenes Tracy's life was not as well or An all encompassing biography (nearly 900 pages) of arguably the greatest actor cinema has seen. Having seen most of Tracy's films I would certainly agree.No one could act or react with out so much as saying a word as could Tracy;but when he did speak it was with a naturalness and authenticity that could not be denied. Curtis recounts Tracy's humble beginnings and rise to stardom in Hollywood until his death as one of Americas great screen idols. Behind the scenes Tracy's life was not as well ordered and confident as his performances would indicate. He was beset by many demons ,among which were a life long drinking problem ( on and off the wagon through out his life) guilt over his only son born death,an inability to sleep well,constant fears about his health,and an abiding feeling that his profession was less than worthy of what a man should pursue in this life.(Tracy often thought he should have been a priest or a doctor). The book also relates in depth the relationship between Tracy and Hepburn.Her love and devotion helped sustain Tracy through the latter part of his life.Above all Tracy was a man of great empathy on and off the screen. All of this is captured in this wonderful biography.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carl Rollyson

    At nearly 1,000 pages, this is the kind of biography that provokes reviewers to say that no one needs to know that much about the subject. But some biographers, given access to new primary sources and the desire to write a definitive work, cannot write less than they know, especially when they are bent on documenting, not merely appraising, their subject's greatness. By these standards, this biography is meticulous, a revealing account of the actor's private life and a probing narrative of his r At nearly 1,000 pages, this is the kind of biography that provokes reviewers to say that no one needs to know that much about the subject. But some biographers, given access to new primary sources and the desire to write a definitive work, cannot write less than they know, especially when they are bent on documenting, not merely appraising, their subject's greatness. By these standards, this biography is meticulous, a revealing account of the actor's private life and a probing narrative of his relationships with other actors. Curtis provides a compelling account of Hollywood history, of its directors and producers, and of Tracy's affair with Katharine Hepburn and his marriage to Louise Treadwell (which he never ended, in part because of his devout Catholicism). Like many great stars, Tracy began with a studio that did not know how to capitalize on his strengths; he did not come into his own until MGM discovered his genius. Drawing on Tracy's papers and profiting from the cooperation of Tracy's daughter, Curtis has produced the go-to biography.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    Exhaustive and exhausting, this meticulously researched biography is everything you could really hope for. The first half feels far more personal, but once Tracy spends more and more time away from his family, considerable detail on his personal life is dependent on Katharine Hepburn as a source, and I've always gotten the impression that much of what she said about Spencer Tracy was very calculated to create a specific mythology, and then, much of the research in the second half is by necessity Exhaustive and exhausting, this meticulously researched biography is everything you could really hope for. The first half feels far more personal, but once Tracy spends more and more time away from his family, considerable detail on his personal life is dependent on Katharine Hepburn as a source, and I've always gotten the impression that much of what she said about Spencer Tracy was very calculated to create a specific mythology, and then, much of the research in the second half is by necessity more distant. As Tracy gets older, those colleagues that Curtis quotes grow more and more awestruck with Tracy and less a personal friend. This is not, of course, a fault in Curtis's book, mind you, but an observation of the resources he had at his disposal. This will forever be the authoritative work on Tracy and a consistently fascinating read that took me weeks but was a pleasure every step of the way.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This is certainly the definitive biography of Spencer Tracy, or at least the most comprehensive one that anybody could want, coming in at around 900 pages. Covering his entire life, I suppose the most interesting sections to me were his early years, especially his early years in acting on Broadway, which I knew little about previously. Of course most readers expect some stories about the making of some of his many films, and that is here also, although it is not a gossipy book. I learned new thi This is certainly the definitive biography of Spencer Tracy, or at least the most comprehensive one that anybody could want, coming in at around 900 pages. Covering his entire life, I suppose the most interesting sections to me were his early years, especially his early years in acting on Broadway, which I knew little about previously. Of course most readers expect some stories about the making of some of his many films, and that is here also, although it is not a gossipy book. I learned new things about Tracy's relationship with Katharine Hepburn, and also about his wife-- to whom he always remained legally married--and his deaf son, who inspired his wife's career of working with deaf children, and of course Tracy's guilt about having left the family, which became a severe alcohol problem for the rest of his life. Fascinating book. **#98 of 120 books pledged to read/review during 2016**

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Can't quite believe I read over 800 pages on Spencer Tracy, but I found this book strangely mesmerizing. It is a very thorough bio, covering his childhood, his relationships with his extended family, as well as the more obvious information about his career as an actor. It is filled with details of his film making, spending time on how the deals for various films were negotiated, as well as the actual process of creating the films. It is unflinching in examining his drinking and womanizing, and h Can't quite believe I read over 800 pages on Spencer Tracy, but I found this book strangely mesmerizing. It is a very thorough bio, covering his childhood, his relationships with his extended family, as well as the more obvious information about his career as an actor. It is filled with details of his film making, spending time on how the deals for various films were negotiated, as well as the actual process of creating the films. It is unflinching in examining his drinking and womanizing, and his long complex relationship with his wife. It covers his friendships over the years, as well his also complex relationship with Katharine Hepburn. If you want to know something about Spencer Tracy, it's probably in this book. Why 4 rather than 5? Maybe it's just a bit much to go into the level of detail that exists in this book, and it could have been just a bit more succinct. However, this is a thorough and well documented work.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jim Kelsh

    This exhaustive biography of Spencer Tracy leaves no stone unturned. Citing scores of sources, interviews, as well as the apparent cooperation of the Tracy estate this could be heavy lifting for some. It painstakingly accounts every play and movie the great Tracy appeared in with his own diary filling in holes. It's not an easy story to tell: the man that appeared to filmgoers as a giant is presented as a guilt ridden, hard drinking, sometimes petulent star that people had to work to like. His g This exhaustive biography of Spencer Tracy leaves no stone unturned. Citing scores of sources, interviews, as well as the apparent cooperation of the Tracy estate this could be heavy lifting for some. It painstakingly accounts every play and movie the great Tracy appeared in with his own diary filling in holes. It's not an easy story to tell: the man that appeared to filmgoers as a giant is presented as a guilt ridden, hard drinking, sometimes petulent star that people had to work to like. His guilt was over the birth and life of his deaf son, serial womanizing, and drinking. It presents in great detail his relationship (or lack of) with his wife Louise, and almost no aspect of his affair with Katherine Hepburn is left unexposed. Still, a facinating portrait of our last great American studio star. At the end, very moving and satisfying.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    While I knew of Tracy's demons and failings before I started reading this scrupulously researched and written book, there was a great deal more to learn about him. Most interesting to me was finally learning about his long-estranged but still very much in his life wife, Louise, who usually rates no more than 'the wife he wouldn't divorce because he was Catholic'. The jury is still out on how I feel about Hepburn, his bossy, pushy, over-protective partner of three decades. This book is a must-rea While I knew of Tracy's demons and failings before I started reading this scrupulously researched and written book, there was a great deal more to learn about him. Most interesting to me was finally learning about his long-estranged but still very much in his life wife, Louise, who usually rates no more than 'the wife he wouldn't divorce because he was Catholic'. The jury is still out on how I feel about Hepburn, his bossy, pushy, over-protective partner of three decades. This book is a must-read for movie lovers of that by-gone golden age of stars. The behind the scenes look at all of Tracy's plays and movies was a bit too detailed for me at times and I found myself skipping through these but they were interdispersed with wonderful stories and anecdotes about the famous people around him. I came out of this book with a warm feeling for this flawed man.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Raquel

    This is the most definitive biography on Spencer Tracy we will ever have. No one else will have as much access to the private library of Tracy's photos, scrapbooks, datebooks, etc. as well as access to the people who knew, loved and worked with Spencer Tracy as James Curtis did. It's a honking book clocking in at 878 pages of content and if you include the front and back matter it's over 1,000. I felt like I had just run a marathon when I finished it. Its worth the effort and time. The book is c This is the most definitive biography on Spencer Tracy we will ever have. No one else will have as much access to the private library of Tracy's photos, scrapbooks, datebooks, etc. as well as access to the people who knew, loved and worked with Spencer Tracy as James Curtis did. It's a honking book clocking in at 878 pages of content and if you include the front and back matter it's over 1,000. I felt like I had just run a marathon when I finished it. Its worth the effort and time. The book is chock full of information. Take it one chapter at a time otherwise you'll feel overwhelmed. Everything is covered here but Curtis never feels the need to go into any salacious detail. See my full review here: http://outofthepastcfb.blogspot.com/2...

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