GEORGE CUKOR: A Double Life by Patrick McGilligan


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Rich character study of homosexual film-director Cukor, famed for his handling of actresses, by McGilligan (Robert Altman: Jumping off the Cliff, 1989, etc.). A Hungarian-American Jew with no interest in Judaism, Cukor spent his professional life fearful of exposure as a gay--though nearly everyone knew that he was one. In his early years in the theater, as a stage director in Rochester and on Broadway, homosexuality was commonly accepted, although in the 30's Cukor tried in vain to have the ""moral turpitude"" clause removed from his MGM contract. The 40's and 50's found gays less accepted and Cukor's fears justified. Only once did scandal brush him, when he and a fellow gay looking for rough trade were mugged by sailors--an incident hushed up by MGM. Cukor was famed for lavish parties and the quiet Sunday get-togethers of his ""chief unit,"" or old-time gays. He resisted any deeper feelings about sex, always paying off his young men in cash, even into his 80s. On the other side of his double life, he was the only gay film director of major rank. His career included discovering Katharine Hepburn, with whom he made ten films; directing Garbo in her greatest film, Camille, and possibly her worst, Two-Faced Woman; directing Judy Garland in A Star Is Born, Marilyn Monroe in Let's Make Love and her tragically ill-fated Something's Got to Give. Gable had him fired from Gone with the Wind, claiming he couldn't work with ""a fairy."" Cukor's other classics included David Copperfield, Jean Harlow's Dinner at Eight, Ingrid Bergman's Gaslight, and Hepburn's The Philadelphia Story, among many others. The past recaptured, keenly and zestfully. Not to be missed.

Pub Date: Nov. 25th, 1991
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: St. Martin's