Peter Lawford

b. September 7, 1923

d. December 24, 1984

Actor Peter Lawford married into the Kennedy family and hung out with the Rat Pack, making him one of the hippest guys of the 60s. Milton Ebbins, former road manager for County Basie's band, was friendly with Lawford for 30 years. Ebbins tells a story about inadvertently carrying a marijuana cigarette onto Air Force One in 1961 (the joint had been slipped to him, he said, by someone at Birdland in New York when he went to see the Basie band.) Later Lawford and his chum Sammy Davis Jr. "embraced the sixties mod style wholesale, complete with swinging parties, flower-child jargon, and experimentaion with LSD and marijuana. Peter considered marijuana a godsend, a way to get high without drinking and further damaging his liver."

Ebbins also claims Lawford may have put something into a joint he smoked with Johnny Carson in 1971, causing Carson to nearly jump off the terrace of Lawford's 13-floor penthouse. The event ended Carson's association with Lawford, and he never guested on The Tonight Show again. (A search of shows Lawford guested three times on the Tonight Show in 1970, but not in 1971 or thereafter.)

Director John Newland recalled of Lawford, his son Chris and Mary Rowan on the Vancouver set of The Deadly Hunt (1971) "They did a lot of it [smoking pot], and Peter was always offering me some. Pot was king of new then and I'd say 'No, no, no.' He'd never smoke during the shooting; it was always after work."

Source: Peter Lawford: The Man Who Kept the Secrets, by James Spada (1991, Bantam Books)


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