There are a lot of things you can imagine Cary Grant, one of the most famous actors of the conservative Golden Age of Hollywood, doing in his spare time. You could imagine him playing squash with studio heads. Or walking his perfect 2.4 dogs. Or knitting a scarf with one of his many ex-wives. What's harder to picture for this (non-American) all-American icon is that, for most of the late-'50s, he was tripping balls something fierce.
If you liked Grant in Hitchcock's North By Northwest, you might be interested in knowing that he gave that genre-defining performance in the middle of a major LSD journey. Over three years, the screwball star underwent 100 acid trips, roughly one per week. And like quite a few other rich and famous Americans, he did so under the supervision of his doctor. Until the drug was made illegal in 1966, LSD-25 was used as a popular upper-class form of therapy. Something Grant was in dire need of. In his younger days, when he was still Archibald Leach, the actor suffered severe emotional trauma due to his childhood and disastrous marriages. This had led to the stoic star clinically depressed, falling into an existential crisis and cycling through wives like Stanley Kubrick would cycle through takes.
Sure, a lot of classic talk therapy also would have also helped Grant deal with this psychological damage, but it was apparently a lot more fun to trip balls and relive his own birth. This is one of many far-out trips Grant used to evangelize the therapeutic use of LSD in articles in Good Housekeeping Magazine. Another included the family-friendly star of Bringing Up Baby and His Girl Friday, describing how he "imagined [himself] as a giant penis launching off from Earth like a spaceship." And sure, Operation Petticoat is a swell movie, but it's a great loss to the arts that Grant never made "The Intergalactic Adventures of Dick Spaceship."
Despite years of praising the medicinal use of LSD, Grant did try to distance himself from his own when acid became a quintessential part of the hippy counterculture -- something Grant's crew-cut image couldn't be associated with. But he still maintained that LSD was the drug that allowed him to finally find happiness and to stop only pretending, right up to when he retired from acting -- in 1966.
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Top Image: MGM