|Birth Day:||October 22, 1920|
|Death Date:||May 31, 1996 (age 75)|
|Birth Place:||Springfield, United States|
|#2||Timothy "Tote" Leary||Father||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#3||Joanna Harcourt-Smith||Former partner||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#4||Barbara Chase||Former spouse||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#5||Mary Cioppa||Former spouse||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#6||Rosemary Woodruff Leary||Former spouse||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#7||Nena von Schlebrügge||Former spouse||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||79||Model|
As per our current Database, Timothy Leary died on May 31, 1996 (age 75).
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
He was pressured by his father to enroll at age thirteen in the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Leary was born on October 22, 1920 in Springfield, Massachusetts, the only child in an Irish Catholic household. His father, Timothy "Tote" Leary, was a dentist who left his wife Abigail Ferris when Leary was 14. He graduated from Classical High School in the western Massachusetts city.
To the chagrin of his family, Leary transferred to the University of Alabama in late 1941 because it admitted him so expeditiously. He enrolled in the university's ROTC program, maintained top grades, and began to cultivate academic interests in psychology (under the aegis of the Middlebury and Harvard-educated Donald Ramsdell) and biology. Leary was expelled a year later for spending a night in the female dormitory and lost his student deferment in the midst of World War II.
Leary was drafted into the United States Army and received basic training at Fort Eustis in 1943. He remained in the non-commissioned officer track while enrolled in the psychology subsection of the Army Specialized Training Program, including three months of study at Georgetown University and six months at Ohio State University.
With limited need for officers late in the war, Leary was briefly assigned as a private first class to the Pacific War-bound 2d Combat Cargo Group (which he later characterized as "a suicide command... whose main mission, as far as I could see, was to eliminate the entire civilian branch of American aviation from post-war rivalry") at Syracuse Army Air Base in Mattydale, New York. After a fateful reunion with Ramsdell (who was assigned to Deshon General Hospital in Butler, Pennsylvania as chief psychologist) in Buffalo, New York, he was promoted to corporal and reassigned to his mentor's command as a staff psychometrician. He remained in Deshon's deaf rehabilitation clinic for the remainder of the war. While stationed in Butler, Leary courted Marianne Busch; they married in April 1945. Leary was discharged at the rank of sergeant in January 1946, having earned the Good Conduct Medal, the American Defense Service Medal, the American Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.
Leary was reinstated at the University of Alabama and received credit for his Ohio State psychology coursework. He completed his degree via correspondence courses and graduated in August, 1945.
After receiving his undergraduate degree, Leary pursued an academic career. In 1946, he received a M.S. in psychology at the State College of Washington, where he studied under educational psychologist Lee Cronbach. His M.S. thesis was on clinical applications of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale.
In 1947, Marianne gave birth to their first child, Susan. A son, Jack, arrived two years later. In 1950, Leary received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. Like many social scientists of the postwar era, Leary was galvanized by the objectivity of modern physics; his doctoral dissertation (The Social Dimensions of Personality: Group Structure and Process) approached group therapy as a "psychlotron" from which behavioral characteristics could be derived and quantified in a manner analogous to the periodic table, presaging his later development of the interpersonal circumplex.
The new Ph.D. stayed on in the Bay Area as an assistant clinical professor of medical psychology at the University of California, San Francisco; concurrently, Leary co-founded Kaiser Hospital's psychology department in Oakland, California and maintained a private consultancy. In 1952, the Leary family spent a year in Spain, subsisting on a research grant. According to Berkeley colleague Marv Freedman, "Something had been stirred in him in terms of breaking out of being another cog in society..."
From 1954 or 1955 to 1958, Leary directed psychiatric research at the Kaiser Family Foundation. In 1957, Leary published The Interpersonal Diagnosis of Personality. The Annual Review of Psychology exuberantly dubbed it the 'most important book on psychotherapy of the year.'
Despite professional success, his marriage was strained by infidelity and mutual alcohol abuse. Marianne eventually committed suicide in 1955, leaving him to raise their son and daughter alone. He described himself during this period as "an anonymous institutional employee who drove to work each morning in a long line of commuter cars and drove home each night and drank martinis ...like several million middle-class, liberal, intellectual robots."
On May 13, 1957, Life magazine published an article by R. Gordon Wasson about the use of psilocybin mushrooms in religious rites of the indigenous Mazatec people of Mexico. Anthony Russo, a colleague of Leary's, had experimented with psychedelic Psilocybe mexicana mushrooms on a trip to Mexico and told Leary about it. In August 1960, Leary traveled to Cuernavaca, Mexico with Russo and consumed psilocybin mushrooms for the first time, an experience that drastically altered the course of his life. In 1965, Leary commented that he had "learned more about ... (his) brain and its possibilities ... [and] more about psychology in the five hours after taking these mushrooms than ... in the preceding 15 years of studying and doing research."
In 1958 the National Institute of Mental Health terminated Leary's research grant after he failed to meet with a NIMH investigator. Leary and his children relocated to Europe where he attempted to write his next book while subsisting on small grants and insurance policies. His stay in Florence was unproductive and indigent, prompting a return to academia. In late 1959 he started as a lecturer in clinical psychology at Harvard University at the behest of Frank Barron (a colleague from Berkeley) and David McClelland. Leary and his children lived in nearby Newton, Massachusetts. In addition to teaching, Leary was affiliated with the Harvard Center for Research in Personality under McClelland. He oversaw the Harvard Psilocybin Project and conducted experiments in conjunction with assistant professor Richard Alpert. In 1963, Leary was terminated for failing to attend scheduled class lectures, though he maintained that he had met his teaching obligations. The decision to dismiss him may have been influenced by his promotion of psychedelic drug use among Harvard students and faculty. The drugs were legal at the time.
Timothy Leary was an early influence on game theory applied to psychology, having introduced the concept to the International Association of Applied Psychology in 1961 at their annual conference in Copenhagen.
Leary and Alpert founded the International Federation for Internal Freedom (IFIF) in 1962 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in order to carry out studies in the religious use of psychedelic drugs. This was run by Lisa Bieberman (now known as Licia Kuenning), a friend of Leary. The Harvard Crimson described her as a "disciple" who ran a Psychedelic Information Center out of her home and published a national LSD newspaper. That publication was actually Leary and Alpert's journal Psychedelic Review, and Bieberman (a graduate of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, who had volunteered for Leary as a student) was its circulation manager. Leary and Alpert's research attracted so much public attention that many who wanted to participate in the experiments had to be turned away due to the high demand. To satisfy the curiosity of those who were turned away, a black market for psychedelics sprang up near the Harvard campus.
According to Andrew Weil, Leary was fired for missing scheduled lectures, while Alpert was dismissed for allegedly giving psilocybin to an undergraduate in an off-campus apartment. Harvard University President Nathan Marsh Pusey released a statement on May 27, 1963 reporting that Leary had left campus without authorization and "failed to keep his classroom appointments." His salary was terminated April 30, 1963.
Leary's psychedelic experimentation attracted the attention of three heirs to the Mellon fortune, siblings Peggy, Billy, and Tommy Hitchcock. In 1963 they gave Leary and his associates access to a rambling 64-room mansion on an estate in Millbrook, New York, where they continued their psychedelic sessions. Peggy Hitchcock directed the International Federation for Internal Freedom (IFIF)'s New York branch, and her brother Billy rented the estate to IFIF. Leary and Alpert set up a communal group with former Psilocybin Project members at the Hitchcock Estate (commonly known as "Millbrook"). The IFIF was reconstituted as the Castalia Foundation after the intellectual colony in Herman Hesse's The Glass Bead Game). The Castalia group's journal was the Psychedelic Review. The core group at Millbrook wanted to cultivate the divinity within each person and regularly joined LSD sessions facilitated by Leary. The Castalia Foundation also hosted non-drug weekend retreats for meditation, yoga, and group therapy. Leary later wrote:
In 1964, Leary coauthored a book with Alpert and Ralph Metzner called The Psychedelic Experience based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. In it, they wrote:
Leary married model Birgitte Caroline "Nena" von Schlebrügge in 1964 at Millbrook. Both Nena and her brother Bjorn were friends of the Hitchcocks. D. A. Pennebaker, also a Hitchcock friend, and cinematographer Nicholas Proferes documented the event in the short film You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You. Charles Mingus played piano. The marriage lasted a year before von Schlebrügge divorced Leary in 1965 — she married Indo-Tibetan Buddhist scholar and ex-monk Robert Thurman in 1967 and gave birth to Ganden Thurman that same year. Actress Uma Thurman, her second child, was born in 1970.
Leary met Rosemary Woodruff in 1965 at a New York City art exhibit, and invited her to Millbrook. After moving in, she co-edited the manuscript for Leary's 1966 book Psychedelic Prayers: And Other Meditations with Ralph Metzner and Michael Horowitz. The poems in the book were inspired by the Tao Te Ching, and meant to be used as an aid to LSD trips. Woodruff helped Leary prepare weekend multimedia workshops simulating the psychedelic experience, which were presented around the East Coast.
In the academic community, many researchers believed that Leary provided little scientific evidence for his claims. Even before he began working on psychedelics he was known as a theoretician rather than a data collector. His most ambitious pre-psychedelic work was Interpersonal Diagnosis Of Personality. The reviewer for The British Medical Journal wrote that Leary created a confusing and overly broad rubric for testing psychiatric conditions. "Perhaps the worst failing of the book is the omission of any kind of proof for the validity and reliability of the diagnostic system," wrote reviewer H. J. Eysenck. "It is simply not enough to say" that the accuracy of the system "can be checked by the reader" in clinical practice. When Leary still wrote for an academic audience he co-edited The Psychedelic Reader in 1965. Penn State psychology researcher Jerome E. Singer reviewed the book and singled out Leary as the worst offender in a work containing "melanges of hucksterism." In place of scientific data about the effects of LSD, Leary used metaphors about "galaxies spinning" faster than the speed of light and a cerebral cortex "turned on to a much higher voltage."
Leary's first run-in with the law came on December 23, 1965, when he was arrested for possession of marijuana. Leary took his two children, Jack and Susan, and his girlfriend Rosemary Woodruff to Mexico for an extended stay to write a book. On their return from Mexico to the United States, a US Customs Service official found marijuana in Susan's underwear. They had crossed into Nuevo Laredo, Mexico in the late afternoon and discovered that they would have to wait until morning for the appropriate visa for an extended stay. They decided to cross back into Texas to spend the night, and were on the US-Mexico bridge when Rosemary remembered that she had a small amount of marijuana in her possession. It was impossible to throw it out on the bridge, so Susan put it in her underwear. After taking responsibility for the controlled substance, Leary was convicted of possession under the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 on March 11, 1966, sentenced to 30 years in prison, fined $30,000, and ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment. He appealed the case on the basis that the Marihuana Tax Act was unconstitutional, as it required a degree of self-incrimination in blatant violation of the Fifth Amendment.
In September 1966, Leary said in a famous Playboy magazine interview that LSD could cure homosexuality. According to him, a lesbian became heterosexual after using the drug. Like most of the psychiatric field, he later decided that homosexuality was not an illness in need of a cure.
By 1966, use of psychedelics by America's youth had reached such proportions that serious concerns about the nature of these drugs and the impact their use was having on American culture were expressed in the national press and halls of government. In response to these concerns, Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut convened Senate subcommittee hearings in order to try to better understand the drug-use phenomenon, eventually with the intention of "stamping out" such usage through the criminalizing of these drugs. Leary was one of several expert witnesses called to testify at these hearings. In his testimony, Leary asserted that "the challenge of the psychedelic chemicals is not just how to control them, but how to use them." He implored the subcommittee not to criminalize psychedelic drug use, which he felt would only serve to exponentially increase its usage among America's youth while removing the safeguards that controlled "set and setting" provided. When subcommittee member Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts asked Leary if LSD usage was "extremely dangerous," Leary replied, "Sir, the motor car is dangerous if used improperly...Human stupidity and ignorance is the only danger human beings face in this world." To conclude his testimony, Leary suggested that legislation be enacted that would require LSD users to be adults who were competently trained and licensed, so that such individuals could use LSD "for serious purposes, such as spiritual growth, pursuit of knowledge, or their own personal development." He presciently noted that without such licensing, the United States would be faced with "another era of prohibition." Leary's testimony proved ineffective; on October 6, 1966, just months after the subcommittee hearings, LSD was banned in California, and by October 1968 LSD was banned in all states as a result of the passage of the Staggers-Dodd Bill.
In 1966, Folkways Records recorded Leary reading from his book The Psychedelic Experience, and released the album The Psychedelic Experience: Readings from the Book "The Psychedelic Experience. A Manual Based on the Tibetan...".
On September 19, 1966, Leary reorganized the IFIF/Castalia Foundation under the nomenclature of the League for Spiritual Discovery, a religion with LSD as its holy sacrament, in part as an unsuccessful attempt to maintain legal status for the use of LSD and other psychedelics for the religion's adherents, based on a "freedom of religion" argument. Leary incorporated the League for Spiritual Discovery as a religious organization in New York State, and their belief structure was based on Leary's mantra: "drop out, turn on, tune in." (The Brotherhood of Eternal Love subsequently considered Leary their spiritual leader, but The Brotherhood did not develop out of International Federation for Internal Freedom.) Nicholas Sand, the clandestine chemist for the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, followed Leary to Millbrook and joined the League for Spiritual Discovery. Sand was designated the "alchemist" of the new religion. At the end of 1966, Nina Graboi, a friend and colleague of Leary's who had spent time with him at Millbrook, became the director of the Center for the League of Spiritual Discovery in Greenwich Village. The Center opened in March 1967. Leary and Alpert gave free weekly talks at the center, and other guest speakers included Ralph Metzner and Allen Ginsberg. Leary's papers at the New York Public Library include complete records of the International Federation for Internal Freedom (IFIF), the Castalia Foundation, and the League for Spiritual Discovery.
During late 1966 and early 1967, Leary toured college campuses presenting a multimedia performance entitled "The Death of the Mind", attempting an artistic replication of the LSD experience. He said that the League for Spiritual Discovery was limited to 360 members and was already at its membership limit, but he encouraged others to form their own psychedelic religions. He published a pamphlet in 1967 called Start Your Own Religion to encourage people to do so.
In November 1967, Leary engaged in a televised debate on drug use with MIT professor Jerry Lettvin.
At the end of 1967, Leary moved to Laguna Beach, California and made many friends in Hollywood. "When he married his third wife, Rosemary Woodruff, in 1967, the event was directed by Ted Markland of Bonanza. All the guests were on acid."
On December 26, 1968, Leary was arrested again in Laguna Beach, California, this time for the possession of two marijuana "roaches". Leary alleged that they were planted by the arresting officer, but was convicted of the crime. On May 19, 1969, The Supreme Court concurred with Leary in Leary v. United States, declared the Marihuana Tax Act unconstitutional, and overturned his 1965 conviction.
In the 1968 Dragnet episode "The Big Prophet", Liam Sullivan played Brother William Bentley, leader of the Temple of the Expanded Mind, a thinly disguised portrayal of Timothy Leary. Brother Bentley held forth for the entire half-hour on the rights of the individual and the benefits of LSD and marijuana, while Joe Friday argued the contrary.
On that same day, Leary announced his candidacy for Governor of California against the Republican incumbent, Ronald Reagan. His campaign slogan was "Come together, join the party." On June 1, 1969, Leary joined John Lennon and Yoko Ono at their Montreal Bed-In, and Lennon subsequently wrote Leary a campaign song called "Come Together".
On January 21, 1970, Leary received a 10-year sentence for his 1968 offense, with a further 10 added later while in custody for a prior arrest in 1965, for a total of 20 years to be served consecutively. On his arrival in prison, he was given psychological tests used to assign inmates to appropriate work details. Having designed some of these tests himself (including the "Leary Interpersonal Behavior Inventory"), Leary answered them in such a way that he seemed to be a very conforming, conventional person with a great interest in forestry and gardening. As a result, he was assigned to work as a gardener in a lower-security prison from which he escaped in September 1970, saying that his non-violent escape was a humorous prank and leaving a challenging note for the authorities to find after he was gone.
In 1971, the couple fled to Switzerland, where they were sheltered and effectively imprisoned by a high-living arms dealer, Michel Hauchard, who claimed he had an "obligation as a gentleman to protect philosophers"; Hauchard intended to broker a surreptitious film deal, and forced Leary to assign his future earnings (which Leary eventually won back). In 1972, President Richard Nixon's attorney general, John Mitchell, persuaded the Swiss government to imprison Leary, which it did for a month, but refused to extradite him to the United States.
Leary and Rosemary separated later that year; she traveled widely, then moved back to the United States where she lived as a fugitive until the 1990s. Shortly after his separation from Rosemary in 1972, Leary became involved with Swiss-born British socialite Joanna Harcourt-Smith, a stepdaughter of financier Árpád Plesch and ex-girlfriend of Hauchard. The couple "married" in a hotel under the influence of cocaine and LSD two weeks after they were first introduced, and Harcourt-Smith would use his surname until their breakup in early 1977. They traveled to Vienna, then Beirut, and finally ended up in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1972; according to Luc Sante, "Afghanistan had no extradition treaty with the United States, but this stricture did not apply to American airliners." That interpretation of the law was used by American authorities to interdict the fugitive. "Before Leary could deplane, he was arrested by an agent of the federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs." Leary asserted a different story on appeal before the California Court of Appeal for the Second District, namely:
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Leary formulated his eight-circuit model of consciousness in collaboration with writer Brian Barritt. The essay "The Seven Tongues of God" claimed that human brains have seven circuits producing seven levels of consciousness. An eighth circuit was added in the 1973 pamphlet "Neurologic", written with Joanna Leary while he was in prison. This eighth-circuit idea was not exhaustively formulated until the publication of Exo-Psychology by Leary and Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger in 1977. Wilson contributed to the model after befriending Leary in the early 1970s, and used it as a framework for further exposition in his book Prometheus Rising, among other works.
His bail was set at $5 million. The judge at his remand hearing stated, "If he is allowed to travel freely, he will speak publicly and spread his ideas," Facing a total of 95 years in prison, Leary hired criminal defense attorney Bruce Margolin. Leary mostly directed his own defense strategy, which proved to be unsuccessful, as the jury convicted him after deliberating for less than two hours. The Brotherhood drug conspiracy charges were dropped for lack of evidence, but Leary received five years for his prison escape added to his original 10-year sentence. In 1973, he was sent to Folsom Prison in California, and put in solitary confinement. While in Folsom, he was placed in a cell right next to Charles Manson, and though they could not see each other, they could talk together. In their discussions, Manson was surprised and found it difficult to understand why Leary had given people LSD without trying to control them. At one point, Manson said to Leary, "They took you off the streets so that I could continue with your work."
Leary became an informant for the FBI in order to shorten his prison sentence and he entered the witness protection program upon his release in 1976. He claimed that he feigned cooperation with the FBI investigation of Weathermen by providing information that they already had or which was of little consequence. The FBI gave him the code name "Charlie Thrush". In a 1974 news conference, Allen Ginsberg, Ram Dass, and Leary's 25-year-old son Jack denounced Leary, calling Leary a "cop informant," a "liar," and a "paranoid schizophrenic." No prosecutions stemmed from his FBI reporting. In 1999, a letter from 22 'Friends of Timothy Leary' sought to soften impressions of the FBI episode. It was signed by authors such as Douglas Rushkoff, Ken Kesey, and Robert Anton Wilson. Susan Sarandon, Genesis P-Orridge and Leary's goddaughter Winona Ryder also signed. The letter said that Leary had smuggled a message to the Weather Underground informing it "that he was considering making a deal with the FBI" and he then "waited for their approval." The reported reply was, "We understand." The letter writers did not provide confirmation that the Weather Underground okayed his cooperation with the FBI.
Leary was released from prison on April 21, 1976 by Governor Jerry Brown. He moved to Laurel Canyon, where he continued to write books and appear as a lecturer and "stand-up philosopher". In 1978, he married filmmaker Barbara Blum, also known as Barbara Chase, sister of actress Tanya Roberts. He adopted Blum's son Zachary and said he raised him as his own. He also took on several godchildren, including actress Winona Ryder (the daughter of his archivist Michael Horowitz) and MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito.
The 1979 musical Hair and the stage performance it is based on make multiple references to Timothy Leary.
Leary developed an improbable partnership with former foe G. Gordon Liddy, the Watergate burglar and conservative radio talk-show host. They toured the lecture circuit in 1982 as ex-cons debating a range of issues, including gay rights, abortion, welfare, and the environment. Leary generally espoused left-wing views, while Liddy was right-wing. The tour generated massive publicity and considerable funds for both. Leary resumed personal appearances and appeared in the documentary Return Engagement which chronicled the tour, and the release of the autobiography Flashbacks. In 1988, he held a fundraiser for Libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul.
Leary was invited to attend the January 14, 1967 Human Be-In by Michael Bowen, the primary organizer of the event, a gathering of 30,000 hippies in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. In speaking to the group, Leary coined the famous phrase "Turn on, tune in, drop out." In a 1988 interview with Neil Strauss, he said that this slogan was "given to him" by Marshall McLuhan when the two had lunch in New York City, adding, "Marshall was very much interested in ideas and marketing, and he started singing something like, 'Psychedelics hit the spot / Five hundred micrograms, that's a lot,' to the tune of [the well-known Pepsi 1950s singing commercial]. Then he started going, 'Tune in, turn on, and drop out.'" Though the more popular "turn on, tune in, drop out" became synonymous with Leary, his actual definition with the League for Spiritual Discovery was: "Drop Out – detach yourself from the external social drama which is as dehydrated and ersatz as TV. Turn On – find a sacrament which returns you to the temple of God, your own body. Go out of your mind. Get high. Tune In – be reborn. Drop back in to express it. Start a new sequence of behavior that reflects your vision."
Leary was reportedly excited for a number of years by the possibility of freezing his body in cryonic suspension, and he publicly announced in September 1988 that he had signed up with Alcor for such treatment after having appeared at Alcor's grand opening the year before. He did not believe he would be resurrected in the future, but did believe that cryonics had important possibilities, even though he thought it had only "one chance in a thousand". He called it his "duty as a futurist", helped publicize the process and hoped that it would work for his children and grandchildren if not for him, although he said that he was "lighthearted" about it. He was connected with two cryonic organizations – first Alcor and then CryoCare – one of which delivered a cryonic tank to his house in the months before his death. Leary initially announced that he would freeze his entire body, but due to lack of funds decided to freeze his head only. He then changed his mind again and requested that his body be cremated, with his ashes scattered in space.
From 1989 on, Leary had begun to re-establish his connection to unconventional religious movements with an interest in altered states of consciousness. In 1989, he appeared with friend and book collaborator Robert Anton Wilson in a dialog entitled The Inner Frontier for the Association for Consciousness Exploration, a Cleveland-based group that had been responsible for his first Cleveland appearance in 1979. After that, he appeared at the Starwood Festival, a major Neo-Pagan event run by ACE in 1992 and 1993 although his planned 1994 WinterStar Symposium appearance was cancelled due to his declining health. In front of hundreds of Neo-Pagans in 1992 he declared, "I've always considered myself a Pagan." He also collaborated with Eric Gullichsen on Load and Run High-tech Paganism: Digital Polytheism. Shortly before his death on May 31, 1996, he recorded the Right to Fly album with Simon Stokes which was released in July 1996.
His ideas influenced the work of his friend Robert Anton Wilson. This influence went both ways, and Leary admittedly took just as much from Wilson. Wilson's book Prometheus Rising was an in-depth, highly detailed and inclusive work documenting Leary's eight-circuit model of consciousness. Although the theory originated in discussions between Leary and a Hindu holy man at Millbrook, Wilson was one of the most ardent proponents of it and introduced the theory to a mainstream audience in 1977's bestselling Cosmic Trigger. In 1989, they appeared together on stage in a dialog entitled The Inner Frontier hosted by the Association for Consciousness Exploration, (the same group that had hosted Leary's first Cleveland appearance in 1979).
In 1990, his daughter Susan (age 42) was arrested in Los Angeles for shooting her boyfriend in the head as he slept. She was ruled mentally unfit to stand trial for murder on two occasions. After years of mental instability, she committed suicide in jail by hanging herself with a shoelace. Leary and Barbara divorced in 1992, and he ensconced himself in a circle of artists and cultural figures as diverse as Johnny Depp, Susan Sarandon, Dan Aykroyd, Zach Leary, author Douglas Rushkoff, and Spin magazine publisher Bob Guccione, Jr Despite declining health, he maintained a regular schedule of public appearances through 1994. In the same year, he was the subject of a symposium of the American Psychological Association.
Leary's last book before he died was Chaos and Cyber Culture, published in 1994. In it he wrote: "The time has come to talk cheerfully and joke sassily about personal responsibility for managing the dying process." His book Design for Dying, which tried to give a new perspective on death and dying, was published posthumously. Leary wrote about his belief that death is "a merging with the entire life process".
In January 1995, Leary was diagnosed with inoperable prostate cancer. He then notified Ram Dass and other old friends and began the process of directed dying, which he termed "designer dying". Leary did not reveal the condition to the press at that time, but did so after the death of Jerry Garcia in August. Leary and Ram Dass reunited before Leary's death in May 1996, as seen in the documentary film Dying to Know: Ram Dass & Timothy Leary.
Leary died at 75 on May 31, 1996. His death was videotaped for posterity at his request by Denis Berry and Joey Cavella, capturing his final words. Berry was the trustee of Leary's archives, and Cavella had filmed Leary during his later years. According to his son Zachary, during his final moments, he clenched his fist and said: "Why?", then unclenching his fist, he said: "Why not?". He uttered the phrase repeatedly, in different intonations, and died soon after. His last word, according to Zach, was "beautiful".
Seven grams of Leary's ashes were arranged by his friend at Celestis to be buried in space aboard a rocket carrying the remains of 23 others, including Gene Roddenberry (creator of Star Trek), Gerard O'Neill (space physicist), and Krafft Ehricke (rocket scientist). A Pegasus rocket containing their remains was launched on April 21, 1997, and remained in orbit for six years until it burned up in the atmosphere.
In June 2011, The New York Times reported that the New York Public Library had acquired Leary's personal archives, including papers, videotapes, photographs and other archival material from the Leary estate, including correspondence and documents relating to Allen Ginsberg, Aldous Huxley, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, Arthur Koestler, G. Gordon Liddy and other prominent cultural figures. The collection became available in September 2013.
Leary's ashes were also given to close friends and family. In 2015, Susan Sarandon brought some of his ashes to the Burning Man festival in Black Rock City, Nevada, and put them into an art installation there. The ashes were burned, along with the installation, on September 6, 2015.
Currently, Timothy Leary is 101 years, 11 months and 6 days old. Timothy Leary will celebrate 102nd birthday on a Saturday 22nd of October 2022.
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