"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 these beleaguered 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.