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George Cukor

A Double Life

2013
Author:

Patrick McGilligan

George Cukor

The definitive biography of master director George Cukor—a New York Times Notable Book

One of the highest-paid studio contract directors of his time and dubbed the “women’s director”, George Cukor was five times nominated for an Academy Award as Best Director; and he was a homosexual—a rarity among the top echelon. Patrick McGilligan’s biography reveals how Cukor persevered within a system fraught with bigotry while becoming one of Hollywood’s consummate filmmakers.

That rarity of rarities among Hollywood biographies: a full-bodied study of a man and his metier, equally insightful about the life and the art.

Andrew Sarris, New York Times

One of the highest-paid studio contract directors of his time, George Cukor was nominated five times for an Academy Award as Best Director. In publicity and mystique he was dubbed the “women’s director” for guiding the most sensitive leading ladies to immortal performances, including Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman, Judy Garland, and—in ten films, among them The Philadelphia Story and Adam’s Rib—his lifelong friend and collaborator Katharine Hepburn. But behind the “women’s director” label lurked the open secret that set Cukor apart from a generally macho fraternity of directors: he was a homosexual, a rarity among the top echelon. Patrick McGilligan’s biography reveals how Cukor persevered within a system fraught with bigotry while becoming one of Hollywood’s consummate filmmakers.

George Cukor

Patrick McGilligan’s biographies include the Edgar-nominated Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light and Fritz Lang: The Nature of the Beast, a New York Times Notable Book. He coauthored (with Paul Buhle) the classic oral history Tender Comrades: A Backstory of the Hollywood Blacklist (Minnesota, 2012).

George Cukor

That rarity of rarities among Hollywood biographies: a full-bodied study of a man and his metier, equally insightful about the life and the art.

Andrew Sarris, New York Times

Full of information about every aspect of Cukor’s career and refreshingly candid about his sexuality, McGilligan’s book throws some much-needed light on Gay Hollywood in the heyday of the studios.

The Advocate

This funny and surprising book, with its vigorous portrait of Hollywood’s most glamorous age, is an exemplary critical biography and an important film book. It propels Patrick McGilligan into the front ranks of film biographers.

The Washington Post Book World

McGilligan’s biography is the defense that Cukor could never bring himself to write. Much more than just a posthumous ‘outing,’ it gives Cukor his full due as a director of both style and wit, whose long career is all the more impressive given the double life he was forced to live.

Los Angeles Times Book Review

Meticulously researched, A Double Life spends equal time investigating what went into the making of his films as it also tries to go behind the facade of Cukor’s Hollywood Homosexual life.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

George Cukor

UMP blog - Integrity, survival, excellence: On the double life of George Cukor

Cukor and his circle didn't really use those modern words 'homosexual' or 'gay.' Katharine Hepburn read an early draft of my book and urged me to take those words out as much as possible. She was right. But Cukor's sexual orientation informed his intelligence and humanism, and it becomes the subtext of many of his films, especially those with Hepburn.

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