During his lifetime, Spencer Tracy was known as Hollywood's 'actor's actor'. Critics wrote that what Olivier was to theatre, Tracy was to film. Over his career he was nominated for nine Academy Awards, and won two.
But there has been no substantial, intimate biography of the man. From his earliest days in stock theatre, Tracy was a publicist's trial, guarding his private life fiercely. Most of the people associated closely with him also shunned the fanzine limelight - notably his wife, his children and the great actress Katherine Hepburn, with whom he had an affair that lasted over 30 years.
Although his screen roles often depicted a happy, twinkling Irishman, Tracy was a periodic alcoholic and a not very agreeable drunk. But the studios managed to keep him out of the papers.
With the help of Tracy's daughter, Susie, and access to previously unseen papers, James Curtis has now produced the definitive biography of a tortured, complex and immensely talented man.