Destination Subconscious: Cary Grant and LSD
"I knew Cary Grant very well and he loved ... what did they call it? Acid! LSD. He said he liked to take the trip." - Debbie Reynolds
"I learned many things in the quiet of that room ... I learned that everything is or becomes its own opposite ... You know, we are all unconsciously holding our anus. In one LSD dream ... I imagined myself as a giant penis launching off from earth like a spaceship." - Cary Grant
It was 1943. Cary Grant was starring in the motion picture Destination Tokyo; an action-filled wartime drama co-starring John Garfield and a deluge of racial slurs. While America was embroiled in the intense fighting of World War Two, Axis powers had surrounded the neutral country of Switzerland. Deep within Nazi surrounded boundaries, Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman was busy toiling away in a dimly lit laboratory, about to study the properties of a synthesis he had abandoned five years earlier. Hoffman was trying to devise a chemical agent that could act as a circulatory and respiratory stimulant when he accidentally absorbed lysergic acid through his fingers. While Americans sat in darkened theaters enjoying Cary Grant's portrayal of a submarine captain, Hoffman was experiencing accelerated thought patterns, polychromatic visions and an unbearable onslaught of intense emotion. This was the world's first acid trip. The discovery was soon to transform the life of one of Hollywood's most glamorous stars.
Cary Grant was the first mainstream celebrity to espouse the virtues of psychedelic drugs. Whereas novelist Aldous Huxley's famous 1954 treatise The Doors of Perception recounted his remarkable experiences with mescaline, Huxley was hardly mainstream - a darling of intellectual circles to be sure, but a far cry from a matinee idol. Grant was one of the biggest stars Hollywood had to offer when he jumped headlong into Huxley's Heaven and Hell. His endorsement of subconscious exploration, arguably, created more interest in LSD than Dr. Timothy Leary who was largely preaching to the converted.1 Grant on the other hand was the fantasy of countless Midwestern women. He convinced wholesome movie starlets like Esther Williams and Dyan Cannon to blow their minds. When Ladies Home Journal and Good Housekeeping interviewed him, the topic of conversation wasn't Cary's favorite recipe or "the problem with youth today." Instead, Cary Grant was telling happy homemakers that LSD was the greatest thing in the world.
Cary Grant had been interested in various forms of mysticism throughout the nineteen fifties. Initially he was fascinated by hypnosis, particularly self-hypnosis. While filming a knife fight in The Pride and the Passion (1957), Grant received a series of gashes across the torso. His body was covered with scars for several months. Cary had been practicing self-hypnosis prior to the injuries as a means to achieve "complete relaxation." He put himself into a transcendental state to will the scars from his body. Grant said he entered the shower one day with the scars, put himself into a relaxed state, and left the shower without a mark on his body. Apparently his doctors were amazed. Skeptics might theorize that Grant was just covered in dried-out stage blood from the film - and this was the first time he'd showered in several months.
Betsy Drake, Grant's third wife, introduced him to the therapeutic uses of hypnosis. An actress on the New York stage, Drake met film producer Hal Wallis through her friend, playwright Horton Foote. Wallis saw potential in the young thespian and persuaded her to sign a studio contract. She quickly discovered she hated Hollywood's studio system and immediately tried to wrangle out of the deal. Betsy convinced a doctor to fabricate a note stating that she was insane and not fit to work. The studio let her go.
It was an open secret between cast and crew alike that the married Cary Grant was sleeping with Sophia Loren during their filming of The Pride and The Passion. Drake had flown to Italy to be by her husband's side during the shoot only to find Grant ignoring her. Distraught, she fled on what was to be a quiet voyage on the SS Andrea Doria. On July 25, 1956 her quiescent journey turned into a nightmare. The ship collided with a Swedish ocean liner off the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts, sinking to the bottom of the Sea and claiming fifty-one lives.2 Betsy survived but was traumatized. The incident, coupled with the estrangement of her husband, haunted her in her sleep.
Sally Brophy was a young actress working in dramatic television and Betsy Drake's best friend. Brophy was a regular on NBC's Buckskin during the height of the nineteen fifties western craze. On her days off Sally attended The Psychiatric Institute of Beverly Hills, where she was engaged in an innovative new program: LSD therapy. The directors of the institute were Drs. Arthur L. Chandler and Mortimer A. Hartman. In due time the pair would be administering LSD treatments to over one hundred different subjects, including future Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg. Sally sought the treatments for help with deep-seated anxiety. She found the results breathtaking. Hartman, a radiologist and practicing psychotherapist, had himself undergone five years of classical Freudian analysis and used LSD with his wife at the start of the decade. "Both my wife and I took LSD over a long period of time. Our judgment would be off for about twenty-four hours, but we were always clear about what had happened," he said. Brophy, thrilled with the effect of her psychedelic sessions, strongly encouraged Betsy Drake to make an appointment to see if it could help quell her shipwreck terror.
Dr. Hartman administered LSD to Betsy in a series of controlled experiments, thirty-one in all. She reported back to Cary Grant the astounding consummation of the guided treatments. "You learn to die under LSD. You face up to all the urges in you - love, sex, jealousy, the wish to kill. Freud is [merely] the road map ... I came up against true reality in myself for the first time." Cary Grant was sold. Betsy had been right, he felt, about self-hypnosis and hence, trusted her faith in LSD. At the end of 1958, the institute put Grant through a series of tests to assure he had no active psychoses or suicidal tendencies. Anybody who showed such symptoms would not advance to LSD treatment, the risk of an adverse reaction thought to be too great. The doctors explained to Grant that they might be able to "break down memory blocks" and allow him to "relive past experiences as far back as gestation." The initial purpose would be for Cary to deal with the angst, distress and other unresolved issues he had in relation to his mother. Cary was instructed to not consume any sedatives, tranquilizers or analgesics for the twenty-four hours prior, nor was he to eat any food in the four hours leading up to his first session. After the trip he was to be monitored and accompanied by an escort (no, not a prostitute) for the rest of the evening. He was not to operate a vehicle until the following day. He arrived weekly, every Saturday morning, to drop acid and deal with suppressed feelings. For the next several years Grant spent hundreds of hours in his psychiatrist's office in psychedelic exploration. He would forever after refer to Dr. Hartman as "My wise Mahatma." Grant felt that his own wisdom was extended to new heights. Many of his friends and contemporaries were astounded by the ethereal philosophy he started to spout.
"We come into this world with nothing on our tape. We are computers, after all," concluded Grant. "The content of that tape is supplied by our mothers, mainly because our fathers are off hunting or shooting or working. Now the mother can teach only what she knows and many of these patterns of behavior are not good, but they're still passed on to the child. I came to the conclusion that I had to be reborn, to wipe clean the tape ... When I first started under LSD I found myself turning and turning on the couch, and I said to the doctor, 'Why am I turning around on this sofa?' and he said 'Don't you know why?' and I said I didn't have the vaguest idea, but I wondered when it was going to stop. '[It will stop] when you stop it,' he answered. Well, it was like a revelation to me, taking complete responsibility for one's own actions." He described the feeling of being high, "I passed through changing seas of horrifying and happy sights, through a montage of intense hate and love, a mosaic of past impressions assembling and reassembling; through terrifying depths of dark despair replaced by glorious heavenlike [sic] religious symbolism." Cary Grant wrote of his experiences, "The feelings is that of an unmarshaling of the thoughts as you've customarily associated them. The lessening of conscious control ... similar to the mental process ... when we dream. Dreams ... could be classified as hallucinations ... [With LSD] one becomes a battleground of old and new beliefs ... The shock of each revelation brings with it an anguish of sadness for what was not known before in the wasted years of ignorance and, at the same time, an ecstasy of joy at being freed from the shackles of such ignorance ... I learned many things in the quiet of that room ... I learned that everything is or becomes its own opposite ... it releases inhibition. You know, we are all unconsciously holding our anus. In one LSD dream I shit all over the rug and shit all over the floor. Another time I imagined myself as a giant penis launching off from earth like a spaceship ... I seemed to be in a world of healthy, chubby little babies' legs and diapers, smeared blood, a sort of general menstrual activity taking place ... As a philosopher once said, you cannot judge the day until the night ... I used it about one hundred times before it became illegal. Each session lasted about six hours ... My intention in taking LSD was to make myself happy. A man would be a fool to take something that didn't make him happy ... One day, after many weeks of LSD, my last defense crumbled. To my delight, I found I had a tough inner core of strength. In my youth, I was very dependent upon older men and women. Now people come to me for help!" He had one regret. "Oh, those wasted years; why didn't I do this sooner?"
Judy Quine was a good friend of Betsy Drake and Cary Grant. She was often the driver who took them home after a psychedelic morning. "Sometimes I picked one or the other up from a session and the nature of the communication was so different from classic analysis it convinced me that it was something I wanted to do. What I had with Cary and Betsy was a kind of soul-barringness that the culture didn't start to deal with until years later. We continued to have that even when our lives went off in different directions." Dr. Hartman reminisced, "Betsy Drake came first ... then Cary. I was not part of the Hollywood scene, and yet many Hollywood people came to me. I chose my patients on the basis of their creativity. One recommended another. [Cary Grant] was searching for answers, but the deterministic approach doesn't work. Things just happen. He was a highly introspective man and an excellent patient ... He came over a period of three years ... During the periods when he wasn't working, he came once a week. He arrived at nine and left around three ... He never called me to say he was having difficulty. LSD was not recreational for Cary. It was a very serious experiment." Legendary playwright turned screenwriter Clifford Odets was impressed, "The changes in Cary as a result of [LSD] treatment have been extraordinary. He's bloomed. He's lost his reticence and shyness," he explained. "The barricade has been swept away ... and he's now free and spontaneous. He's got a freshness, an alertness, an awareness of things he never had before. Why, he's almost like a kid." Cary Grant loved to talk about what the sessions were doing for him and he became somewhat of an acid raconteur. "LSD permits you to fly apart," he lectured to anyone who would listen. "I got clearer and clearer ... you become free of the usual discipline you impose upon yourself ... I became happier for it, and the insights I gained dispelled many fears I had prior to that time. I began to realize I was my own worst enemy. You can't blame anyone else for what you've done in your life. You must keep in mind that you are always part of the action. Once you realize that, you're home a little freer."
During the filming of Operation Petticoat (1959), Universal arranged press interviews for Grant. Cary looked at the press junket as his first opportunity to advertise the treatment he was enjoying. Joe Hyams from The New York Herald Tribune came to the set and was the first to have access to Cary. Despite the fact that LSD was perfectly legal at the time, Hyams was unsure if the topic was off-the-record when Grant started talking about it. To the contrary, Grant said, go ahead and tape the conversation - get down every word. "I have been born again. I have just been through a psychiatric experience that has completely changed me ... I had to face things about myself, which I never admitted, which I didn't know were there. Now I know that I hurt every woman I loved. I was an utter fake, a self-opinionated boor, a know-all who knew very little. Once you realize that you have all things inside you, love and hate alike, and you learn to accept them, then you can use your love to exhaust your hate ... You can relax ... Then you can do more than you ever dreamed you could do ... That moment when your conscious meets your subconscious is a helluva wrench. You feel the whole top of your head lifting off." As Hyams was walking out of the room he bumped into Lionel Crane from The London Daily Mirror, the man scheduled to interview Cary Grant next. Crane asked him how it went and Hyams replied, protectively, "The usual stuff." What Psychiatry Has Done For Cary Grant ran in The Herald Tribune as a three-part series starting on April 20, 1959. It was preceded by an advertising blitz promoting the piece. The Herald Tribune was banking a lot on the story, hoping to boost sales and circulation. Look magazine followed in September with The Curious Story Behind the New Cary Grant. Even Good Housekeeping weighed in on the manner in 1960. A banner on their cover (above a photo of a child hugging a puppy) advertised CARY GRANT - The Secrets of His "Second Youth," the secret being LSD.3 Prior to the actual appearance of the Tribune story, Universal Pictures got wind of it. They realized that this bombshell could turn to backlash from his fans and, in turn, destroy the profitability of the Blake Edwards comedy coming down the pike. Grant, at the behest of the studio, got on the phone immediately. So did Grant's legal counsel. Hyams answered his phone and heard the voice known to millions on the other end. "You can't run the articles!" "Why not?" "Because I don't want them to run in America," Grant shouted. Hyams said his eye twitched as he told Grant, "The articles have already been announced. There's no way I can stop them now." Cary's voice became harsh, "Well, you'll have to find a way ... You better find a way to stop them or you'll be discredited. I'll tell the press that I haven't seen you for two years." Hyams wrote in his autobiography, "My temples were pounding, my stomach was churning. I was staring at the telephone despondently, not knowing what to do or whom to turn to." The story went ahead, but when The LA Times picked up the story from the Tribune syndicate, they added a post script: "Cary Grant says he has not seen Hyams for two years." Universal and Cary Grant's lawyers got help from gossip columnist Louella Parsons who wrote that Hyams was a phony journalist adding, "When I was a girl, things were different in the newspaper business." Hyams' journalism career was decimated. Hollywood publicity departments uniformly canceled all scheduled appointments with him and weren't about to schedule any others. His young son was bullied at school, taunted about having a liar for a father.
Why the sudden change? Hadn't Cary Grant enthusiastically endorsed LSD with all his heart? The truth lies in the deal Cary Grant had made with Universal for the picture Operation Petticoat. Grant had negotiated a fantastic bargain for himself in terms of profit sharing. Universal was picking up the tab for the film but Cary's production company, Granart, was in charge of the production and would own the negative. Once the film made back its production costs at the box office, Cary would receive seventy-five percent of the net profit.4 When Grant's lawyer, Stanley Fox, explained that Grant's use of LSD - and his abstract descriptions of its effect - could alienate his fan base and jeopardize the success of the film, Grant agreed that the interview should not be published. A massive financial profit was at stake. He needn't have worried. The story went through and so did Operation Petticoat - earning more money than any film Universal had ever released. As soon as the returns for Operation Petticoat came in, Cary Grant reverted back to his psychedelic bravado. Meanwhile, Joe Hyams had slapped Grant with a lawsuit. The deal was settled out of court, and Grant struck a deal with the forgiving writer to have him write the Cary Grant memoirs.5
Esther Williams was the darling of the MGM lot during the late forties and early fifties. Louis B. Mayer built a magnificent custom-made swimming pool on the Metro Goldwyn Mayer backlot specifically for the swimmer turned musical star. Mayer was a conservative man. He encouraged his employees to vote against FDR and re-elect Herbert Hoover during the Great Depression. He also worshiped Esther Williams. Had he lived long enough to hear it for himself, he surely would have been horrified to learn that his darling young starlet was dropping acid. Esther Williams tells the story: "I picked up a magazine. It was the September 1959 issue of Look, with Cary Grant's startling confession that he had taken a drug called LSD ... Hungrily I read Cary's words over and over. 'I am through with sadness. At last, I am close to happiness. After all those years, I'm rid of guilt complexes and fears.' This sounded too good to be true, yet there he was, declaring himself a new man [Grant said] 'Now people come to me for help!' That day, I resolved that I would be one of those people. Cary and I had known each other for years, having spent time together at many parties and public events ... I said Cary I've got to see you right away ... he invited me to come to his office at Universal the next morning. 'Cary, I'm at the end of my rope,' I told him the following day. 'I'm deeply troubled about my life, and when I read what you said about how LSD had changed your life, I wondered if it might help me.' 'Esther, it takes a lot of courage to take this drug,' he warned me. 'You may not want to do it when I tell you what it's like, because it's a tremendous jolt to your mind, to your ego.' This conversation took place long before LSD became the recreational drug of the 1960s that Tom Wolfe wrote about in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test ... The newspaper articles were always about the young people who misused it, and that is what most people remember ... We seldom heard about the benefits that people such as Cary and I experienced. All I knew was that my life was falling apart and I needed some answers. If LSD was the key, then I wanted it. The Psychiatric Institute of Beverly Hills was tucked away on one of those quiet back streets ... After a cursory interview Dr. Hartman asked, 'Are you ready?' I answered with a fervent, 'Yes!' He led me to a small room in the back. It was darkened with blackout drapes ... He gave me five little blue pills with a glass of water and told me to lie down and close my eyes. 'Now I'm leaving you alone for two hours. Let it take you wherever you want it to take you. Don't be afraid.' Then he closed the door behind him. I was about to take the most amazing journey of my life ... I felt my tension and resistance ease away as the hallucinogen swept through me. Then, without warning, I went right to the place where the pain lay in my psyche. The first thing I saw was my father's face the day my brother Stanton died. My brother had been just sixteen when it happened; I was only eight ... At the end of the session, Dr. Hartman ... warned ... that some afterglow would stay with me, and that it wouldn't be until the next day that the drug would be out of my system. This LSD trip ... explained so much about my life's script ... [It was] such a breakthrough for me."
Medicine: The Psyche in 3D
In Hollywood, it was only natural that psychiatric patients undergoing analytic treatment should have visions in wide screen, full color, and observe themselves from cloud nine. What was remarkable was that these phenomena - experienced by (among others) such glossy personalities as Cary Grant and his third exwife [sic], Betsy Drake - were reported in the cold, grey scientific columns of the A.M.A.'s Archives of General Psychiatry ... Now from the Psychiatric Institute of Beverly Hills, Drs. Arthur L. Chandler and Mortimer A. Hartman report using LSD as a "facilitating agent" in treating 110 patients.
... After four foodless hours, patients are ensconced on a couch in a comfortable, carpeted room with classical music piped in. After the tasteless shot of as little as a millionth of an ounce of LSD in water, they lie down and are fitted with blinders (a "sleep shield"). To make sure that they shut out external stimuli, some also wear wax and cotton earplugs ... Even with all [the] safeguards, say Drs. Chandler and Hartman, LSD treatment can still be dangerous unless the psychiatrist has had plenty of it himself. It is not enough for him to have taken it once or twice "to see what it's like"; they insist that the psychiatrist should have had 20 to 40 sessions with it ... the patient has illusions - not hallucinations, the doctors insist, because he does not believe in them. Instead of "hearing voices," as in schizophrenia, he enjoys visions. These visions may be timeless and seemingly unrelated to past or present experience. But often they consist of incredibly vivid, colorful scenes from the recent past, or from a childhood remembered with superhuman accuracy: 'Some patients describe it by saying that it is as though a 3-D tape were being run off in the visual field." Long-forgotten childhood fantasies may be mixed with real memories, some going back (as patients testify that their parents have confirmed) to life's first year ... Whatever the visions' content, most important is the fact that the patient seems able to stand aside and report vividly observed conflicts, dredged from his deepest unconscious and acted out before him. Somehow, his sharpened insight is able to function independently of his emotions. The more he "goes with the drug," the more he can stand aside and see himself as he has been.
Who benefits from LSD plus psychotherapy? Drs. Chandler and Hartman had 44 neurotics, 25 cases of personality disorder ... and 17 who had been addicted to alcohol or narcotics or both ... No fewer than 50 of their patients took LSD dozens of times in stepped-up doses ... No fewer than 50 of their patients, the doctors report, showed considerable to outstanding improvement, while 38 more showed at least some improvement. Only 22 were rated as having shown no benefit. Most gratifying was the success with victims of notoriously resistant types of illness - addicts and obsessive-compulsives.
-Time Magazine, March 28, 1960
Cary Grant survived the public relations hot potato that his LSD use could have created. However, public relations were in jeopardy again during August of 1963, when the Beverly Hills police arrested Dr. Arthur L. Chandler. The LA Times said that "Sheriff's deputies reportedly found 500 carefully tended marijuana plants growing in the neatly terraced gardens of his expensive hillside home ... Protesting that he had a special government stamp that permitted him to grow marijuana [for research purposes], Dr. Arthur L. Chandler was booked at the West Hollywood Police Station." Grant distanced himself from Chandler saying that although he had attended his clinic, it was Dr. Mortimer Hartman who was his therapist. The case went to trial in May 1964. 'Film Stars' Psychiatrist Cleared in Dope Case,' read the newswire headline. It quoted Chandler contradicting himself, saying he didn't even know what marijuana looked like. It's unlikely that the August pot bust occurred before The Saturday Evening Post visited him. Their piece titled The Dangerous Magic of LSD, published in November 1963, made it clear that the doctor's drug experiments had had him running errant with the law before.
Drs. Arthur L. Chandler and Mortimer A. Hartman, [are] former associates in the Psychiatric Institute of Beverly Hills. Hartman's patients included Cary Grant who said, after a series of LSD treatments, "Now I can give a woman love for the first time in my life because I can understand her." Chandler and Hartman believe that therapists working with hallucinogens should have at least 20 ingestions themselves. As LSD grew scarce, they resorted to other mind-changers. One was Ritalin, a relatively mild stimulant when administered orally, but a psychic blockbuster when heavy doses are injected intravenously ... By hypodermic, Ritalin can also become habituating. One night three years ago, Los Angeles police found Hartman in a stupor behind the wheel of his parked car. At the station house he admitted having shot himself full of Ritalin. Upon evidence that he had long been using dangerous drugs, the State Board of Medical Examiners revoked his license for six months and put him on probation for 10 years without the right to prescribe any narcotic. I recently visited Chandler at his combined home and office, which has all the appurtenances of the good life as lived in Beverly Hills, including a swimming pool. He is a towering chesty man, with teeth like piano keys, who laughs frequently without apparent cause, as if at some private joke.6 Half a dozen boys and girls, the latter of starlet age and shape, swim-suited or draped in bath towels, were lolling at the other end of the living room. I asked Chandler if they were members of his family. "No, they're patients," he replied. "They like to hang around here and talk about their experiences." I mentioned the risk of addiction the therapist may run if he takes frequent doses of drugs like Ritalin. "Oh, yes," said Chandler, "it can be more dangerous to [the therapist] than to the patient. The sorcerer may find he's only the sorcerer's apprentice." His face split into a huge grin. "You have to fight temptation?" He nodded vigorously. "Who will supervise the supervisor?" Abruptly he held out his hand. "My patient will be ready now." And laughing, he left.
- John Kobler, Saturday Evening Post, November 2, 1963
Aldous Huxley had encountered the clinic prior to his death, but had sought his LSD experiences from the parallel practice of Dr. Oscar Janiger, the other acid doctor to the stars. Huxley witnessed Chandler and Hartman's work and was unnerved by their approach. "We met two Beverly Hills psychiatrists the other day," he wrote, "who specialise in LSD therapy at $100 a shot - and, really, I have seldom met people of lower sensitivity, more vulgar mind! To think of people made vulnerable by LSD being exposed to such people is profoundly disturbing."
An amusing exploitation rag called The National Police Gazette ran a profile on Cary Grant in 1967, written in the first person by a woman who feigned confusion about Grant's drug use and the way it was consumed.
I had lunch with Cary Grant and I shall report everything that you would like to know about him. I saw him at the Savoy-Plaza Hotel in New York. Cary Grant, well over six feet tall, was deeply tanned and well groomed ... Years ago he even played in a tennis tournament but recently he found that he was devoted to swimming and yoga ... Mentally, Cary Grant is not to be found wanting ... I have even heard it said that Cary Grant goes to a well-known Hollywood psychiatrist ... I asked Cary Grant squarely whether or not this was so ... "Psychiatrists," he said, "... are only headshrinkers ... I will tell you that for about five years I have been glad to use LSD." As a rule LSD is administered intravenously by a physician and produces "wild" dreams, as the saying goes, dreams that the patients follow as if they were on a screen in Technicolor and Cinemascope. While under the influence of the drug, they generally talk of their sensations and above all of their desires, not in the physical sense. Those who have tried it, including Cary Grant, maintain that nowhere on earth are there colors as fantastic as those seen during these sessions. All this seems bewildering to me; I know nothing about drugs; and I asked him why he submitted to sessions of that sort ... Cary Grant explained to me that he began to take LSD "because I felt I did not have all the happiness that human life can give an individual. What's wrong with looking for happiness? Each of us has different procedures and methods, but that is always what we are looking for. I honestly think that by means of LSD I got to know myself better, my possibilities and my limits; and as a result greater happiness." On that subject, I reminded him what Mae West said, "I am very close to Cary, but I just can not understand why he keeps on with those crazy experiments, taking a drug to find himself. He ought to come up and see me now and then, and I'm sure I could quiet him down." Cary Grant broke out into a loud laugh and said, "Mae always had a great sense of humor ... and she's right from her point of view. Everybody is right, as long as he doesn't impose his own ideas on other people and leaves them full liberty to act and behave."
- Gloria Powell, National Police Gazette, December 1967
Cary Grant married actress Dyan Cannon in 1965. Cannon took LSD with Grant while they were dating. "He once told me I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and he hoped I would have it so that the 'new me' would be a wonderful one. And he said that the 'new me' would be created through LSD." During their messy divorce proceedings two years later, Cannon brought up Grant's LSD use several times. She testified that he had "yelling and screaming fits," beat her, spanked her and used LSD for ten years. "Mr. Grant is an unfit father because of his instability," she said. She relayed an anecdote about a night he was high on acid and refused to let her leave the estate for a night out. He confiscated her keys and bolted the gates. "He locked himself in my dressing room, where he began reading poetry ... later he began to hit me ... He was laughing and screamed for the help to come and see what he was doing. I was frightened and went to call the police." Another incident she spoke of happened while Grant sat at home, tripping out during the Academy Awards as they were broadcast live on television. "He became violent and out of control. He jumped up on the bed and carried on. He yelled that everyone on the show had their faces lifted. He was spilling wine on the bed." Grant's lawyers brought a pair of psychiatrists to the stand, doctors whom had examined Cary the same month that the divorce had been filed. One of the psychiatrists, Dr. J. Marmor, testified, "I find no reason to believe that [LSD] had harmed [Cary Grant] or caused lingering negative effects ... Mr. Grant tends to be an emotional individual, but I have often seen that in actors." On March 21, 1968, Judge Robert A. Wenke ruled that Grant was to pay fifty thousand dollars a year in child support and would be restricted to visiting his daughter Jennifer for two months per year.
In the late sixties LSD came under fire from police organizations, magazines and news programs. Ridiculous depictions on cop shows or drive-in movies didn't exactly help matters. Kids Say the Darndest Things host, Art Linkletter, lead the pack, convinced that his manic-depressive daughter had not committed suicide intentionally, but had been driven to death by the evils of LSD and the hippies that endorsed it. Linkletter did not mention his daughter's battle with depression when he told reporters, "It isn't suicide because she wasn't herself. It was murder. She was murdered by the people who manufacture and sell LSD." Linkletter was already angry at the counterculture's rapid influence on America as a whole. He was lecturing across the country to churches, community centers and high schools delivering a sermon called "Permissiveness in this Society." Twenty years later he still held strong to these convictions, even when a toxicology report found no signs of LSD in his daughter's system. "[LSD] played a very vital part [in her death] and it caused her to become bewildered and agonized about life and take her own life ... in subsequent investigations following her death I have absolute, definite proof, that Diane had mentioned Dr. Leary as one of the reasons why she thought that there was nothing wrong with LSD ... it's an absolute fact ... she was getting flashbacks from LSD ... she was not a drug addict ... such things as Grace Slick and The Jefferson Airplane and the rock groups singing the songs of drugs, people like Ginsberg the poet and even Aldous Huxley and his Doors of Reception [sic] ... was talking about the glories of drug abuse. It was a drug world ... this man, Dr. [Timothy] Leary, I had hoped he would die, I had hoped he would be hung ... a pitiful example of an aging hippie, a gruesome spectacle."
Cary Grant was a voice of reason. "I've heard that a man here and there died during LSD25 sessions; but then I've heard that men died during poker games and while watching horse racing; but that didn't seem to stop such occupations. Those men might have died anywhere while doing anything. Men have also died testing airplanes and parachutes, vaccines and common cold cures. In attempting to traverse the next step into progress and knowledge, men have always died. But there is a difference between the man who knows what he's about with a high-powered airplane, and an idiot who puts wings on a bicycle and takes off from the edge of Niagara Falls." At the same time, he toned down his LSD advocacy when the drug was outlawed. "It isn't my responsibility to decide whether someone should go to jail, but taking LSD is, after all, illegal," he said. "I don't advocate it for anyone else. If a man takes LSD, he must realize the consequences." Still, Cary spoke in the language of a veteran acid tripper. He anticipated "a universal revelation" in which there would be "an amalgamation of all knowledge" and "a missile that would put male and female astronauts on the moon for the sole purpose of procreation ... their offspring would forsake the planet earth and make it a kind of sun that would give life to the moon as the sun now does to the earth." Life was cyclical, he said and everything that had happened before would happen again. "The apocalypse will be in the same place again and again ... [if it's the end of earth] it's the beginning of life somewhere else. Just as we give life to our progeny. I give life to my daughter but I die off. She continues. She's my only ticket to eternity."
Cary Grant's drug indulgences were reserved exclusively for acid. He never had a bad word to say about psychedelics. At the same time, he had nothing but contempt for marijuana and its habitual users. Grant's lover throughout the seventies, Maureen Donaldson, suggested they get stoned together. "He hated the mere idea of smoke and he ... rejected my suggestion we smoke some grass one afternoon as a prelude to making love." He worried about his daughter being in the care of Dyan Cannon and complained to Donaldson, "[My daughter] is not going to learn any responsibility from her. Jennifer's mother has late-night parties and smokes marijuana and God knows what else." Grant greeted the counterculture with contempt. He could not understand why they would voluntarily choose to dress poor and abandon the basic rules of hygiene. A few years later he would introduce Gerald Ford from the podium of the 1976 Republican National Convention. And unlike some of his tinsel town contemporaries such as Myrna Loy, he was an unabashed supporter of Ronald Reagan both as Governor of California and as President of the United States. When Patty Hearst was kidnapped by the "urban guerillas" known as the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974, Grant was "paralyzed with fear that the same was destined to happen to [his daughter] Jennifer." Cary Grant loved his acid, but he was still of what was considered the square generation. He challenged Maureen to "prove what's so good about the Beatles." He abhorred the mere thought of his daughter being exposed to rock music at Dyan Cannon's home. Donaldson played I Want to Hold Your Hand and "worked ... through the Beatles catalogue until we reached Strawberry Fields Forever. He listened very patiently but it was a lost cause. 'I'm sorry dear,' he said. 'I know they're popular. It's just not music in my book."
Cary Grant's daughter Jennifer was a big fan of Maureen's good friend Alice Cooper. Grant did not approve. "Maureen ... I know you like him very, very much and he seems quite thoughtful and all that. But once you scratch off all that hideous makeup, what you've got is just a homely man." Donaldson desperately wanted Cary to meet Alice Cooper. She tried for months to persuade the movie star to go along with her to an Alice Cooper concert. Finally she wore him down. Donaldson explains, "There was a concert scheduled for San Diego. Cary insisted he go incognito, so I disguised him as best I could in the 'style' of a more than slightly seedy agent. I wrapped sunglasses around Cary's eyes, a gold chain around his neck and a checkered jacket around his shoulders ... sharkskin pants ... Alice's manager, Shep Gordon, had given me a pair of tickets ... I will say that Cary did his best. He wore earplugs and sat through the entire show without one word of complaint. He sat through the 'beheading' and the contortions with the snake and the rest ... Driving back to Los Angeles, I congratulated Cary for being such a good sport ... He'd made an extraordinary effort to please me ... [I asked him] 'You really hated it, didn't you?' 'It's...' he said, struggling for words, 'you know what it's like? Remember I told you about the time I took LSD in my doctor's office and shat all over his rug and floor?' 'Yes,' I said. 'Well now I know how that poor doctor felt."
The curmudgeonly side of Grant manifested whenever he worried about his six year old daughter. Dyan Cannon had been fleeing to a Monterey commune and taking Jennifer Grant with her. Donaldson recalls Cary shouting that at the commune, "There are drugs and black people and God knows what else." Donaldson was aghast, "He sounded like a racist member of the John Birch Society. Cary's concerns about Dyan supposedly using drugs struck me as hypocritical. After all, wasn't he the one who'd reaped headlines in the late fifties when he admitted taking LSD?" Within the same discussion Cary said to her, "I would love for you to try [LSD]. It's illegal ... but LSD is still legal in a couple of countries. We could go there and I would be there for you, just like Betsy was for me. Did I tell you she went to every session with me and waited right outside the doctor's door to make sure I was all right?" Donaldson explained that, "This invitation contrasted with the position he usually gave to the press [about never recommending LSD to others although it worked for him]. But he did recommend it to me. Frequently."
Reaction to Cary Grant's drug use varied among his Hollywood peers. Religious Debbie Reynolds thought it was funny, as did Alfred Hitchcock who said, "I sometimes think Cary is attracted to LSD because those letters in England stand for pounds, shillings and pence." David Niven expressed concern, "[It was] a most hazardous trip for Cary to have taken to find out what we could have told him anyway: that he had always been self-sufficient, that he had always been loved, and that he would continue to give a damn about himself - and particularly about others." Director Stanley Donen didn't find Grant's enthusiasm particularly infectious. "LSD gave him the belief he had found the real answer to the miracle of how to live. Did I notice any real changes? Not really." Richard Brooks, the writer and director of cinema classics like The Blackboard Jungle and In Cold Blood thought the drugs had a dulling effect. "I didn't recognize that the changes in him were from taking LSD," said Brooks. "Under LSD he was too placid. He was not his questioning self." Peter Stone, the screenwriter on the Grant vehicles Charade and Father Goose felt psychedelics had turned Cary from a charming man into an aggravating pest. "Everything was uncritical after LSD, It wasn't real. It was beatific. You'd say, 'Cary stop it. You're making me crazy.' He'd say, 'I'm not making you crazy. You're making you crazy.' ... It was cosmic in scope. Up and down. Black was white. In was out. Everything was a cycle. What's the difference? He could literally stop any discussion by one of these tautologies."
Cary Grant would respect and admire Dr. Mortimer A. Hartman for the rest of his days, crediting him with changing his life. Although Grant eventually lost contact with the doctor and did not see him for the last fifteen years of his life, he never forgot him. Explaining one of the things he learned on LSD to Ladies Home Journal he said, "In life there is no end to getting well. Perhaps death itself is the end to getting well. Or, if you prefer to think as I do, the beginning of being well." Cary Grant died November 29, 1986 at the age of eighty-two. At the reading of his last will and testament it was revealed that Grant had left Dr. Mortimer A. Hartman, his wise Mahatma, ten thousand dollars.
1According to Graham McCann, "Leary, in fact, claimed that Grant was one of the people who converted him to the possibilities of the drug: "Cary Grant was always my idol. When I was young I modeled myself on him." When Cary Grant said LSD was something else, Leary decided to give it a try.
2Some sources say forty-seven people perished. The death toll varied, some people classified as missing, some later discovered alive.
3Despite the square reputation of Good Housekeeping, the article in question was written by the hip and very engaging Richard Gehman. Gehman was a regular contributor to the scandalous new magazine Playboy and the author of riveting, behind-the-scenes biographies of The Rat Pack and Jerry Lewis. He also wrote a proliferation of "sausage cookbooks." He wrote over three thousand articles for various publications in a span of twelve years. His peers referred to him as "King of the Freelancers." Both Good Housekeeping and Ladies Home Journal, and even TV Guide for that matter, had some incredibly good writing published in their pages from 1955 through 1970.
4Some sources say seventy-five percent, other sources say twenty-five percent.
5Many sources say Grant had already sold exclusive rights to the story of his LSD use to Look magazine for a substantial amount and that his insistence that Hyams kill his story was due to Grant violating his exclusivity contract with Look. Joe Hyams felt this was the case, which you can read about in the Appendix. This reason could very well be true but seems specious when taking into account that Cary Grant granted the interviews willingly and encouraged two non-Look reporters to write about his LSD use. I feel the profit sharing theory is more credible, after weighing all the different sources. I could be wrong and leave it open to interpretation.
6This is where the writer's ignorance of the marijuana plants becomes obvious.
Here is a large excerpt from Joe Hyams' hard-to-find autobiography, Mis-Laid in Hollywood, published in 1973. The chapter is titled Cary Grant: An Unlikely Acid Head. From pages 90-98.
Cary's LSD experiments gave the story a strong news peg. In addition, I felt the articles were the most revealing ever published about him in the US and I expected a good reaction to them. The first response I got, however, was from Cary, who telephoned me at home the day the series was announced in New York. "You can't run the articles," he said. "Why not?" "Because I don't want them to run in America." My right eye began to twitch from nervousness ... "[If your run the story] I'll tell people I haven't seen you for two years." "But that's ridiculous and you know it." "It's your word against mine, and you know who they'll believe." Cary hung up the phone ... I was staring at the telephone despondently, not knowing what to do or whom to turn to, when the phone rang again. It was Cary's lawyer, Stanley Fox. "You'd better do something about killing that series." His voice was calm but there was no mistaking the determination in it. "I can't do it, Stanley." "You must do it. Cary tells me he hasn't seen you for two years, which means that you've made the whole series up or pirated it from another source." "That's nonsense and you know it. He saw me two months ago for a long interview in Key West. And he sat next to me in the theater a couple of nights ago and gave me permission to run the material." "That's your story. It isn't Cary's. You'd better get the series killed." But in fact it was too late and there was nothing I could do. The series ran as scheduled and the reverberations started immediately after the article first appeared ...
I was a nervous wreck that morning, running between the bathroom and the office. My stomach was churning and I couldn't keep my food down. Most of the people who called me were well-meaning friends. They sounded amused at the controversy and impressed with the articles, but I felt that they too thought I made them up. Cary had been right; when it was his word against mine, no one would believe me, not even my friends. I had two interviews scheduled that morning and both were cancelled. A press agent who had been a friend of mine for years told me his client was nervous about being interviewed by me. That afternoon my son Jay came home from school crying. He had been teased by some of his school-mates for having a liar for a father. Then press colleagues began calling, supposedly to get my side of the controversy, but underneath their solicitous sympathy, I sensed that most of them were pleased to find me in trouble. They could hardly wait to hear whether Cary had actually filed suit against me yet. I was indignant. "It's me who should be suing him." Their silence told me that they thought I'd been caught off base and was just bluffing now, even though I kept insisting I had tape-recordings of the interview. I could have played the tapes for them but I was damned if I would. I felt they should take my word without proof just as they took Cary's without evidence. Reporters from Time and Newsweek telephoned me for interviews. The "feud" between Cary and me was showing signs of becoming a cause celebre, which gave them the opportunity to print the "controversial" quotes. By then I was more than a little paranoid, but in each story that was published, I felt I came out badly. I came to dread the ringings of the telephone and after a few days I refused to go out on interviews because of the questions I knew I would be asked. For the first time I realized the tenuousness of my claim on the world in which I operated, and how quickly the press, my friends included, turned on anyone in trouble.
If I intended to stay a columnist in Hollywood, I had only two choices: to get Cary to retract his statements, or to sue him. I had never in my life been sued or sued anyone. I didn't have a lawyer and the Tribune had no legal representative on the West Coast. I would have to risk launching a big lawsuit on my own, even though I didn't want to go to court. The only lawyer I knew was Arthur Crowley, whom I had once met at a party. I heard he was tough and I figured he would probably be willing to go up against Cary in my behalf, if only for the publicity. I made a deal with his office to represent me on a contingency basis. If I sued for damages and won any money they would be entitled to a percentage. Meanwhile I had been doing a little research of my own and I believed I had found out why Cary retracted his statements to me. Between that night and the theater when he gave me the go-ahead and the announcement of my series, he had agreed to write an article for Look magazine about his experiences with LSD. My series had violated his contract and killed the deal. He had been under some fire from Look and his first reaction, apparently, had been to deny he'd ever given me interviews. I guessed that he had conveniently forgotten about Lionel [Crane]'s articles, or felt that since they had run in London they didn't count. The $500,000 slander suit I filed against Cary in 1959 made headlines because it as the first time a columnist had sued a star. It also served my main purpose almost at once. Hollywood people began to realize there must be something to be said for my side of the controversy. My lawyer wrote a strong letter to Louella [Parsons] who, rather, than give a disposition to the case, ran a retraction of her previous statement, which seemed to restore some of the Tribune editors' faith in me.
And then the publicity department of Universal Studios [after much stonewalling on their side] sent me a copy of the picture taken of me interviewing Cary in Florida. I had tried desperately to locate the picture but it was one of thousands taken on location and the studio photographer was unable to locate it. In my paranoia I had been convinced Cary had ordered the picture and negative destroyed. But it came through channels as a routine souvenir of a location visit - and it clinched my case against Cary. The pre-trial business was dismal and took hours of time and drained me emotionally. When I gave my deposition to Cary's attorney, he asked me hundreds of questions about the interview. He even learned that I had chosen not to use the information about Cary wearing panties. "Why didn't you use it?" the lawyer demanded. Truthfully, I replied that I liked Cary and was afraid if I wrote that he wore women's panties it might be taken by some readers as an implication that he was not completely masculine. In the course of two twelve-hour sessions, I also produced the tape-recordings made in Key West and answered the most irrelevant questions about my own life. I was delighted to learn that an appointment had been made for Cary to give my lawyer a deposition. "Sock it to him the way they did to me," I told Crowley. "I don't think he'll ever show up for a deposition," the lawyer said. "He won't want to go through with it. They made it tough on you to discourage you, but now that it's their turn they'll chicken out." Crowley was right. On the day before Grant was to give his deposition, Crowley called to say the case had been settled out of court. In exchange for my dropping the lawsuit, Cary would agree to cooperate with me in the preparation of his life story to be bylined by him "as told to Joe Hyams." I was to keep all income derived from the sale.
By that time, months had gone by and I was so down at heart about the case that I didn't really think much of this unique settlement. I was just glad it was all over and that I had been vindicated. My lawyer, however, was jubilant. "You've got a chance to make a real killing with his life story. He'll have to do it with you - we have a contract that says so." "He'll never do it," I said. "He's being forced to work with me. He'll find a way out." Despite my lawyer's confidence, I was certain that Cary would never really give me full cooperation ... I drove my car to his office at Universal Studios ... I soon discovered I had misjudged my man ... Cary greeted me as he would an old friend ... The interviews proceeded smoothly from that day on. Although he had been literally forced to work with me on his story, he never mentioned that fact, nor did I ... After several weeks of tape-recorded interviews, I transcribed my notes and roughed out a series of articles, which I submitted to him for approval ... Cary telephoned ... "Would you object to my making a few changes here and there?" "Of course not," I said, hoping the uneasiness I felt did not show in my voice ... To my surprise [his changes] were excellent. They were, in fact, a much better beginning for the article than mine, because they captured the full flavor of his personality ... Meanwhile I told Cary ... I felt he should get the whole byline, even though our agreement called for it to be "by Cary Grant as told to Joe Hyams."
The Ladies' Home Journal offered my agent $125,000 for the articles, so much more money than I had anticipated that I was unable to concentrate on work for days, and spent hours writing down lists of things to do and buy ... I found it hard to believe my good luck: I had been forced into a defensive move to get out of a tight spot and now it appeared that in so doing I had hit the jackpot. Meanwhile my lawyer cautioned me not to tell Cary how much money was involved. "I doubt that he knows it's worth that much and, in any event, it's none of his business." ... I received a telephone call from Stanley Fox, his lawyer. "You know, Joe, I think there's a bit of inequity here." "Where?" As if I didn't know what he meant. "In the amount of money you're getting for the articles. Cary had no idea they were worth so much." "Nor did I." My mind was racing, trying to anticipate the lawyer's angle. I didn't have to wait long to find out. "Well, since you've admitted that Cary did most of the work, enough for you to remove your own name from the byline, don't you think he ought to participate to some extent in the money paid for the article?" "But," I protested, "according to our contract I'm to get all income from his life story." "True," Fox said smoothly. "But we're not talking about the contract anymore. That's over and done with. What I'm talking about is something else, something equitable for Cary, who spent a lot of time working on the articles. Fair's fair." "What do you consider fair?" "Enough, say, for a new Rolls-Royce."
MARCH 21, 2010
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