Grant, Cary - Joe Hymans describes Cary Grant's use of LSD
Type of Spiritual Experience
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.
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its effect - could alienate his fan base and jeopardize the success of the film, Grant agreed that the interview should not be published.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.
A description of the experience
Excerpt from Joe Hyams' 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.
"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."