An essential component of Cary Grant’s eternal star persona is his impoverished beginnings. In Grant’s rags-to-tuxedo origin story, the Cockney acrobat Archie Leach willed himself into an underwhelming Broadway performer and then into the epitome of silver screen elegance. That’s the man we think of starring in films ranging from screwball classics like The Awful Truth and Bringing Up Baby to Alfred Hitchcock thrillers Notorious and North by Northwest.
“Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant,” he famously said. But the less-quoted second half of that statement is worth considering: “I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until finally I became that person. Or he became me. Or we met at some point.” By the time he was at the height of his fame in the 1950s, those long years of pretending to be someone else had taken from him possibly more than they had given.
So Grant, the man who always looked as if he’d been born with a silver cocktail spoon in his mouth, turned to a new therapy: lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as LSD. Now, that period of his life is brought to life in the new Broadway musical Flying Over Sunset.