Dyan Cannon was an up-and-coming actress when she caught Cary Grant’s eye in the early 1960s. The two, 33 years apart in age, had an on-again, off-again relationship until finally getting married in 1965. Their daughter, Jennifer was born the following year.
But their union would barely last through her pregnancy, and a bitter divorce was finalized in 1968.
Cannon, now 74, has penned a bittersweet memoir about her life with the screen legend, "Dear Cary: My Life with Cary Grant." Although the two had a tempestuous time together, to say the least, Cannon writes warmly of her first great love, and lays a lot of blame on Grant’s dysfunctional family.
And does she mean dysfunctional.
For example, the movie star's alcoholic father had his mother committed when Grant was 10, told the boy his mother had died, and it was not until 20 years later that Grant found out his mother was actually still alive.
FOX411: You say Cary proposed to you but you said no. Why did you finally say yes?
Dyan Cannon: Because he melted me. He was the most charming, suave and wonderful man in so many ways. He was older and wiser and he changed my whole way that I dressed, the way I looked, the clothes I bought, the books I read, the thank you notes I would write and I thought it would make him happy if I did those things. The thing I wanted most in my life was to make him happy.
FOX411: Did you feel bullied by him?
Cannon: No, I felt almost like he was the parent and a good girl is always obedient. It was all in an effort to make him happy. What shaped his life was so difficult that I really believed I could heal what had happened. He told me I was the only woman he’d ever trusted enough to have a child with and it was such a deep trust of me. He came from abandonment and people leaving him and that was never healed. His mother had been committed into an asylum by his father when Cary was 10. Meeting her and knowing her she was extremely angry and who could blame her? Her husband signed her way in an institution. How angry would you be after twenty years in a hell hole. So the air between them was never really settled.
FOX411: When did things turn bad between you?
Cannon: When I got pregnant, because that brought up all those feelings he hadn’t really addressed as a child. He tried to address them with LSD. He thought LSD got him closer to God, that it would heal him. He started it with his ex-wife Betsy Drake. She introduced him to Mortimer Hartman, the man who was administering these treatments. This is not telling anything out of school because Cary wrote a series of articles for Ladies Home Journal in which he talked about having taken over 100 sessions.
FOX411: And he forced you to take LSD.
Cannon: He didn’t force me. He asked me, he suggested strongly that it would help our relationship. What does a woman do who is desperately in love with a man who says, ‘Hey I do it, do you think I would suggest you do it if it was bad for you?’ He wasn’t suggesting it as a lark or a party. He honestly believed that taking it would heal our marriage.
FOX411: For you it was a disaster.
Cannon: Disaster, it made me crazy. I’m lucky to be alive today.
FOX411: You had a breakdown after the marriage ended.
Cannon: I went nuts. I lost it. It’s so hard to actually realize that now because I’m so well and so happy and so satisfied now, but I lost it. I climbed out a window in the middle of the night in the pouring rain thinking I was doing something very natural. I ended up in a mental institution. I was there for two or three months.
FOX411: Did you feel better afterwards?
Cannon: It was the beginning because all the prescription pills I was on had stopped. I stopped using marijuana, which people don’t think is addictive, but it really is. The doctor attributed the breakdown to LSD.
FOX411: Do you think the huge age difference doomed the relationship?
Cannon: Well I think it had something to do with it, but it didn’t affect me in the early stages because we had such a wonderful romance. We had so much fun together. We laughed all the time. It was so easy. I think the fact that he pursued me, he chose to pursue me ,and the fact that I was saying no. I don’t think anyone had ever said no to this man. When people asked me if I was playing a game, no, not at all. My little voice said don’t go, but he charmed me and he was so beautiful and dear in so many ways.
FOX411: What do you make of the rumors that Cary was gay?
Cannon: I just want to tell you that part of our life was very fulfilling, so I don’t know. In Hollywood they talk about everyone in some form or another. If that was the case, I never saw any indication of it.
FOX411: Do you think he pushed you into divorce because he was scared you would leave?
Cannon: Yes, absolutely. He asked me for the divorce first, and when I said "when and where", he changed his mind. I’m convinced totally in my heart that he loved me as much as he loved anyone because after all those years he trusted himself to have a baby with me, and for that I’m very grateful.