5 Beloved Actors Who Almost Exclusively Worked Drunk
The entertainment industry is packed with cautionary tales of excess, from Robert Downey Jr. to Lindsay Lohan to Robert Downey Jr. again. It's almost as if being rich and famous enough to do literally anything and get away with it has some sort of negative impact on one's restraint. But this is not an invention of modern Hollywood. This kind of thing has actually been going on forever. For example ...
Cary Grant Cut Back On Booze By Switching To LSD
In the 1950s, screen legend Cary Grant decided that his alcoholism was probably a bad thing, and sought the help of a psychotherapist. This being the 1950s, the psychotherapist in question introduced him to an experimental but promising young drug called "LSD."
Grant would later go on to become acid's greatest public champion, claiming he was "born again" from the experience, and called the doctor who recommended it "my wise Mahatma." Of course, there are some downsides to enlightenment. When you let go of all worldly concerns, few pause to consider that also means "control of your butthole." According to Grant, "we are all unconsciously holding our anus. In one LSD dream, I shit all over the rug and shit all over the floor."
Cary In The Sky With Charmin
Here's another tale from Grant at the edge of nirvana: "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." That was a positive thing, he presumably assured his terrified listeners.
"You did hear the part about the giant penis, right? Ladies?"
Grant's LSD habit wasn't all sunshine and dismembered babies and space penises. His wife went on to report that he became physically abusive to her during this phase -- in part because she refused to take it with him. For some strange reason, the bloody space wang story did not convince her.
Others did see the appeal, though. Judy Balaban, the daughter of longtime Paramount president Barney Balaban, became hooked on the drug after Grant showed her how rad it was. Quoth Judy Balaban: "I figured if it was good enough for Cary Grant, it was good enough for me!"
"Four out of five old-timey doctors recommend LSD. The fifth was too busy
slap-fighting eight-eyed zombie unicorns to offer an opinion."
If LSD hadn't been declared a Schedule 1 narcotic in 1970, they probably would have put that endorsement on the packaging.
Related: Cary Grant Took LSD (100 Times)
John Huston Was A Giant-Donged Drunken Testosterone Monster
John Huston directed such classics as The African Queen and The Maltese Falcon, but carving his name into cinema history took a distant third to his two favorite pursuits: drinking and screwing.
According to the (many) women with direct experience, the only thing longer than Huston's filmography was in his pants. At least, on the rare occasion that it was in his pants. Even his daughter, actress Anjelica Huston, waxed poetic about it in her memoir. "He was extremely well-endowed, but I tried not to stare or betray any interest in what I was observing," she wrote, in a passage which should have set alarms off in the CPS cold case department.
Nothing in this picture isn't the creepiest thing of all time.
Whenever Huston wasn't swinging his pendulous junk around in front of his kids, he was making good use of it. He was married five times, and reportedly cheated on every one of his wives. In addition to carrying on the most poorly-concealed extramarital affairs this side of JFK, Huston made his mark on Hollywood by churning out classics, often while so drunk that he would frequently doze off in the director's chair.
During the filming of The African Queen in Uganda, Huston's herculean boozing may have saved his life, as well as the movie. He and leading man Humphrey Bogart decided to abstain from the local water and drink only Scotch, thus avoiding the dysentery that laid up Katharine Hepburn and much of the crew. According to Bogart, "Whenever a fly bit Huston or me, it dropped dead."
Pictured: Bogart, about to perform all his own stunts.
That's probably comedic hyperbole. But we wouldn't dare call it a lie, for fear of getting dong-whipped by Huston's angry drunken ghost.
Joan Crawford Traveled With Basically A Full Bar
Joan Crawford really, really loved Pepsi. She was also married to the CEO of PepsiCo, which was awfully convenient (*cough* cola-digger *cough*). Her husband, Alfred Steele, even awarded her a chair on the company board. Given that she was also a popular actress, Crawford was made the official ambassador for Pepsi, touring the country to promote the beverage. And she took advantage of that position to try to drink all of the world's alcohol.
"Whiskey-flavored Pepsi, coming soon to a minibar near me."
Crawford's contract had a rider that would give Keith Richards pause. On each stop of the tour, she requested to be provided with two fifths of Smirnoff 100-proof vodka, one fifth of Old Forester bourbon, one fifth of Chivas Regal Scotch, one fifth of Beefeater gin, two bottles of Moet & Chandon champagne, and, of course, a case of Pepsi.
Keep in mind that Crawford was often in a town for less than 24 hours.
The Pepsi was simply a caffeine pick-me-up for when she was too drunk to keep drinking.
W.C. Fields Got Into Shape With A Vigorous Regimen Of Exercise And Booze
Throughout history, overweight comic actors -- from Chris Farley to Melissa McCarthy -- have always faced the same dilemma. Their skills as a comedian are often second-rung to the comedy potential of a fat person falling over. By the same token, silent film legend W.C. Fields often found his nuanced comedic talent overshadowed by his own butt.
Fields was also a chronic alcoholic. He famously avowed that he had only been drunk once in his life: from the Spanish-American War to the New Deal. Eventually, Fields decided that it was time to get back into shape. His celebrity diet? Get drunk enough to forget he was exercising.
"What? You said I need to keep hydrated."
Fields said that his daily workout involved riding a stationary bike which was positioned facing his liquor cabinet to provide "incentive." And he would often jog behind the local beer wagon (this being back in the days when beer wagons roamed the neighborhood like ice cream trucks and the Flintstones advertised cigarettes). Those sound like jokes, but a reporter from Life magazine once watched him knock back "five tall glasses of rum in two hours" while lifting weights and jogging, so we're inclined to believe Fields's account.
"Hey, switch it to wine so I can pretend I'm doing the Tour de France."
Fields's regimen got him back to a fairly healthy weight, and he lived to the age of 66, when he died of ... well, complications from alcoholism.
What? How else was this story going to end?
Peter O'Toole Wouldn't Allow Acting To Get In The Way Of His Drinking Career
According to reports by those who knew him, the deceptively dignified Peter "Lawrence of Arabia" O'Toole's life was punctuated by frequent, crazy, drunken escapades. One time, he allegedly assaulted a policeman for no particular reason, aside from that he "didn't like cops." We're guessing that his opinion of public servants improved a few years later, when firefighters came to his rescue after he lit his bed on fire (he couldn't remember how).
He's also said to have accidentally cut off the tip of his finger during a boating accident, but don't worry -- he simply soaked the digit in brandy and then tied it back on. In the morning, he realized he'd put it on upside-down. In 1995, O'Toole appeared on Letterman while riding a camel, which he of course had force-fed a full beer.
Michael Caine recalled the night he went drinking with O'Toole, and the next thing he can remember, he woke up two days later in a strange flat, a few hours before they were both due to be on stage. Caine says "somewhere in my life, there is a Sunday missing," and that it was the first and last time he tested his alcohol endurance against Peter O'Goddamn Toole.
Not too long before his death, O'Toole shared a story about how he once dropped a jacket off at the dry cleaners which had inexplicably been stained with "blood and Guinness and scotch and Corn Flakes." The cleaners returned the item with the note: "It distresses us to return work which is not perfect." O'Toole later reported that this was the message he wanted on his tombstone.
"In lieu of flowers, Mr. O'Toole requests barley and hops."
Zoroastrianism used to be one of the biggest religions in the world, but their idea of heaven had a slight twist on it: To get there you'd have to cross a bridge, sometimes rickety, sometimes wide and sturdy. If you fell off, you'd go to the House of Lies for eternity. Fun! Not terrifying at all! This month, Jack, Dan, and Michael, along with comedians Casey Jane Ellison and Ramin Nazer discuss their favorite afterlife scenarios from movies, sci-fi, and lesser-known religions. Get your tickets here, and we'll see you on the other side of the bridge!
For more ways we don't hold a candle to our ancestors, check out 7 Songs From Your Grandpa's Day That Would Make Eminem Blush and The 7 Most Unexpectedly Awesome Parties In History.
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