Biography

For a self-styled countercultural guru, Dr. Timothy Leary led a highly disciplined and scrupulously conformist early life. After being asked to leave West Point and then being expelled from the University of Alabama, Leary returned to the armed services, then committed himself to diligent study in the field of psychology, earning his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. During the 1950s, he gained a nationwide reputation for his books on personality disorders, and was a widely respected teacher/lecturer at Harvard University. Then, in the early 1960s, he developed a fascination for mind-expanding drugs; it was he who popularized the phrase "psychedelic." During the Youth Revolution of the 1960s, Leary was at the forefront with his advocacy of recreational use of LSD. His catchphrase was "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out," which also served as the title of a short film he produced and wrote in 1966. His much-publicized testing and flaunting of marijuana laws led to several arrests, which he welcomed with unbounded delight. Oddly, throughout his experimentation with and advocacy for drug use, he remained a prolific writer and lecturer and was worshipped by a large percentage of those under 30. As the '60s faded from view, so did Dr. Leary. In 1981, he made his formal film debut in Cheech and Chong's Nice Dreams then went on to essentially play himself in such independently-produced efforts as Roadside Prophet (1982) and Shocker (1988). To the very last, the puckish Leary remained good copy. Upon learning that he had inoperable cancer, he publicly declared how excited he was at the prospect of experiencing the "ultimate trip." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi