In a daring raid in 1948, Robert Mitchum got caught smoking marijuana in Hollywood:
Sept. 1, 1948: Actor Robert Mitchum and starlet Lila Leeds were reportedly caught smoking marijuana during a police raid at the actress’ Hollywood Hills home. Two others were also arrested.
Mitchum told police that he and another friend were in the neighborhood looking to buy a house when they stopped to visit Leeds and her roommate, dancer Vickie Evans.
The actor said he had trouble finding the home on Ridpath Drive, which one narcotics agent described as “ideally situated to be a ‘reefer resort.’ It is perched on a hillside, with no near neighbors, and well-screened by shrubbery,” The [Los Angeles] Times reported.
It was reported in the L.A. Times but I lived in Michigan, we didn’t yet have the tabloids (or the internet), and I was not quite 11 years old, so it got right past me. (Hedda Hopper might have hinted about it in the movie mags but her hints weren’t always clear. In her juiciest scoops, the principals remained nameless. (“What handsome, dark-haired bad boy was caught smoking dope with a blond starlet who wasn’t his wife?” )
Fortunately, a few years later a magazine called Confidential surfaced; a juicy, slimy precursor to the tabloids, and eventually they got around to the story about the not-so-current arrest of that bad boy, Bob Mitchum. I remember reading it as a teenager, thinking that man is treading on some dangerous ground there. (Maybe not in those words, exactly. I probably didn’t talk like that. The point is, I was a teenager, I had seen Reefer Madness!, and I was shocked!)
The article about Mitchum is long gone, but I’m remembering his picture this way: He’s leaning toward the camera as if he’s trying to get up but can’t. His eyes are half-closed, the famous Mitchum sneer is all over his face. His hair is damp and matted and probably dirty. It might have been the picture of a drunk, but it wasn’t. It was much worse. Robert Mitchum was stoned. On Reefer. And it wasn’t the first time.
The shock of it must have marked me for life. Marijuana was a terrible drug. It was bad. The baddest of the bad. Normal people didn’t go in for it, they went in for alcohol.
In Michigan in the 50s the drinking age was 21. In Wisconsin, it was 18, so I had my first legitimate drink while we were on our honeymoon at the Wisconsin Dells. It was a Tom Collins and it was delicious. No doubt I would have liked it just as well without the alcohol, but in Wisconsin, anyway, I was a grown up!. We ran around with a drinking crowd most of our young lives but I was never much of a drinker. The few times I got drunk my body let me know in the most violent ways that there were some things it would not tolerate and an overabundance of alcohol was one of them. So be it.
Until around the early 70s I didn’t know anyone who had ever smoked pot. We had new neighbors move in right next door and the guy immediately started a pot garden in the back yard. When his plants were mature, he started selling his crop. Their house was close enough so that at all hours of the night we could hear knocking on their door and the low rumble of short conversation. I gave up thinking poorly of them when I grew to like them for the crazy, dear people they were. I felt incredibly sophisticated. I knew pot people!
Then our neighbor two doors over found out that we had never smoked pot. It was our anniversary and we were going away for the weekend to celebrate, so she decided this would be the perfect time to experiment. She brought over a gaily wrapped package of pot brownies and insisted I pack them in our suitcase.
They went with us but neither of us wanted to indulge. Truth is, I was scared to death of them. (Reefer Madness!) I shoved them way in the back of my underwear drawer and forgot about them.
So last week my daughter and I were talking about how silly it was that marijuana hasn’t yet been legalized. I said, “I can’t really understand the effects of pot since I never tried it. I probably should have, at least once in my life.” Then I dropped the bombshell on her: I told about the time I had a whole package of pot brownies in our house.
I waited for her reaction. She looked at me, startled, and then she began to laugh. “I know you did, mom. I ate them!”
Turns out I had told my teenaged daughter about the brownies, never once thinking that it would be anything that would interest her so much she would be stealing them out of my drawer, little by little so I wouldn’t notice, and sharing them with her friends.
I know nothing about life. Nothing. Pay no attention to me. I know nothing.
(Cross-posted at Ramona’s Voices)