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Cary Grant's Wife And Daughter Reveal What Tore Their Family Apart

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Cary Grant is the kind of Hollywood actor whose classic movies seem destined to stick around forever.  

While he passed away in 1986, Grant's movies like North by Northwest and To Catch a Thief still thrill audiences around the world. But, behind the scenes, the actor's life wasn't as glamorous as you might expect. He famously joked that "everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant."

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We've shared stories about Grant's difficult childhood in England, where the actor assumed he had been abandoned by his mother as a boy. Grant didn't realize until much he was an adult that she had actually been institutionalized by his father.

Even as a Hollywood star, Grant's private life made headlines. He was a notorious womanizer, and known to experiment with psychedelic drugs like LSD.

As Grant's fourth wife actress Dyan Cannon and his daughter Jennifer reveal in their tell-all books, those qualities helped drive Grant and Cannon to divorce.

Cannon and Grant.Who's Dated Who

Cannon, who was only 28 when she married the 61-year-old Grant, says she and the movie star "had a great romance in the beginning – loving and fun, a fairy tale in parts – but then he started to change me."

"My hair, my clothes, my bags, my shoes, he even told me not to act – although I’d wanted to be an actress ever since I was a little girl – and I went along with it all."

But Grant's daughter Jennifer says there's more to the story.

Along with Grant's controlling personality, Cannon blames the star's fixation with LSD for driving them apart.

The star's private doctor administered the drug to him once a week, and he insisted on making Cannon try it too.

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"Before we got married, he’d encouraged me to take LSD," Cannon remembers. "I hated it but he said, 'You and I have a child together and I want to make this marriage work.'"

But even after reacting "horribly" to the drug, Grant kept encouraging her to take it again. "I had a breakdown and ended up in a psychiatric hospital – the doctors said LSD had contributed to my mental state."

But Grant's only child, his daughter Jennifer, remembers her father very differently.

Grant and his daughter Jennifer.Parade

“One of the myths about Dad was that he was mean," she said. "That simply wasn’t true. I always found him generous to a fault but he wasn’t reckless with his money, which was rather rare in Hollywood.”

Jennifer is referencing Grant's notoriously stingy habits, which including charging fans a quarter for autographs.

“He’d grown up with nothing and he wasn’t about to fritter it all away. His attitude was he knew he could walk into any shop and buy whatever he wanted. He just didn’t have to.”

From left to right: Jennifer Grant, Cary Grant, and Grant's fifth wife Barbara Harris.The San Francisco Preservation Society

Despite remembering her father as a kind and positive influence on her life, Jennifer admits he could be controlling.

“He once found some eye shadow in my drawer. I got into big trouble. He could be very firm on certain things. Make-up, manners... and he was a stickler for proper English.”

Are you still watching Grant's movies after all these years?

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories. CONTACT: zachary@shared.com