Neal Cassady Biography

Neal Cassady was a poet belonging to the 'Beat Generation’, a community of eminent writers. This biography profiles his childhood, works, career, life, achievements and timeline.

Neal Cassady
Quick Facts

Birthday: February 8, 1926

Nationality: American

Famous: Bisexual Poets

Died At Age: 41

Sun Sign: Aquarius

Also Known As: Neal Leon Cassady

Born in: Salt Lake City, Utah

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: Carolyn Cassady (m. 1948–1963) LuAnne Henderson

father: Neal Marshall Cassady

mother: Maude Jean (Scheuer)

children: Cathy Cassady Sylvia, Curtis Hansen, John Allen Cassady Jami Cassady Ratto

Died on: February 4, 1968

place of death: San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico

U.S. State: Utah

Cause of Death: Drug Overdose

More Facts

education: East High School

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Neal Cassady was one of the most prominent personalities of the post-World War II literary movement - 'Beat Generation’. He had a rough childhood, after he lost his mother at the age of ten, which left him under the uncaring eyes of his alcoholic father. His early teenage life was very troubled, with arrests for a number of petty thefts, which finally led to his imprisonment. After Cassady came out of jail, he went to New York, where he became acquainted with members of the ‘Beat Generation’, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Though he did not enjoy much of a writing career himself, Cassady’s wild lifestyle, magnetic energy and high spirit inspired many of his writer friends. Jack Kerouac's novel 'On the Road' is inspired by his travels and features a character that is modelled after him. There have been numerous works of literature, films and music that have been inspired by his life. Unfortunately, he became a victim of drug abuse and led a rather carefree lifestyle. A complicated soul, Cassady’s sexual exploits, obsession with drugs and hedonistic life made it difficult to fulfil family obligations.

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Neal Cassady
Childhood & Early Life
  • He was born as Neal Leon Cassady on February 8, 1926 in Salt Lake City, Utah. His early life had a tragic beginning as he lost his mother Maude Jean at the tender age of ten. After the death of his mother, he was left under the care of his alcoholic father, Neal Marshall Cassady.
  • For most of his growing years, he lived on the streets of Skid row, a shabby neighbourhood in Denver, Colorado. These years were troubled and he became involved in a lot of petty crimes.
  • At the age of fourteen, he was arrested for stealing a car. He was later caught for shoplifting, fencing and other petty crimes.
  • Around 1941, when he was 15, he came to the notice of a teacher named Justin W. Brierly. Brierly soon became his mentor and got him admitted into the East High School.
  • In spite of being mentored by Justin W. Brierly, he continued his notorious lifestyle and was arrested. In 1944, he was imprisoned for a period of eleven months. During this period he wrote letters to Brierly.
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Later Life
  • In 1947, he relocated to New York City along with his wife, LuAnne Henderson. Here he met writers, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg at Columbia University through his mentor and friend, Hal Chase.
  • In 1940s, along with Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, he co-authored the poem, 'Pull My Daisy'. This was also made into a short film of the same name, inspired by an incident in his life.
  • He formed a close friendship with writers, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg and socialised with their friends. Soon, he became a member of the ‘Beat Generation', a community of writers who came to eminence in the 1950s, post the World War II.
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Personal Life & Legacy
  • In October 1945, he marred, LuAnne Henderson, a fifteen year old. Their marriage was annulled in 1948.
  • In 1948, he married Carolyn Cassady, with whom he fathered three children. They settled down in Monte Sereno, California.
  • In 1950, he wed Diane Hansen in what would become a bigamous marriage. They had a son named, Curtis.
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  • He shared a sexual relationship with his friend, writer Allen Ginsberg. This relationship went on for twenty years.
  • In 1958, he was arrested after being caught using marijuana at a San Francisco nightclub. He was sentenced for two years at San Quentin State Prison. After he came out from prison he found it difficult to take care of his family.
  • In 1963, after his parole expired, his wife Carolyn Cassady divorced him. Following this, he moved into an apartment with Allen Ginsberg and Charles Plymell.
  • In 1964, he became a part of the group named, ‘Merry Pranksters', which was quite outspoken about use of psychedelic drugs.
  • In 1964, he was also one of the drivers of the legendary bus, ‘Furthur’, which had facilities like stove, fridge and beds inside. The bus was driven across America.
  • From 1967, he travelled to Mexico. The next year, he travelled to various cities in America, including San Francisco, New York, Denver, Colorado and came back to Mexico.
  • On February 3, 1968, after a wedding party in Guanajuato, Mexico, he went for a walk beside a railroad track but passed out due to the extreme weather conditions. The next morning, he was found in a state of coma and died a few hours later.
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  • A short story written by Ken Kesey titled, 'The Day After Superman Died', provided a fictional account of his death.
  • In 1971, his autobiographical novel, ‘The First Third' was posthumously published.
  • Author Jack Kerouac's novel, 'On the Road' is inspired by his travels and a character in the novel is loosely based on him.
  • He has been referenced in many works of music. Some of the songs based on him include, ‘That's It For The Other One' by The Grateful Dead, 'The Persecution & Restoration of Dean Moriarty (On The Road)' by Aztec Two Step and 'Neal Cassady' by the Washington Squares.
  • He has been referenced in the films like 'Heart Beat', 'Who'll Stop The Rain', 'The Last Time I Committed Suicide', 'Luz Del Mundo’, 'Neal Cassady', 'Howl', 'Across the Universe' and 'Love Always, Carolyn - A film about Kerouac, Cassady and Me'.
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Trivia
  • This writer and poet of the 1950s 'Beat Generation' was known for his unfaithfulness. It is believed that he cheated with many women on the same day. He had a bigamous marriage with two women and was also bisexual.
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How To Cite

Article Title
- Neal Cassady Biography
Author
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
Website
- TheFamousPeople.com
URL
https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/neal-cassady-5016.php
Last Updated
- November 01, 2017
Neal Cassady

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