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Terry Southern

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Also Known As: Maxwell Kenton Died: October 29, 1995
Born: May 1, 1924 Cause of Death: Respiratory Failure
Birth Place: Alvarado, Texas, USA Profession: screenwriter, novelist, teacher

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A satirical author of fiction, including the then-scandalous erotic adventure, "Candy", Southern contributed his incisive wit and intelligence to several screen gems. His best known screenplays include "Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" (1963), co-written with Stanley Kubrick and Peter George, and "Easy Rider" (1969), co-written with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. Southern also worked on "The Cincinnati Kid", "The Loved One" (both 1965) and "Barbarella" (1968). Southern believed that the important thing about writing was "the capacity to astonish," and he demonstrated that credo in "Dr. Strangelove" and "Easy Rider," both of which earned him Academy Award nominations. The former centered on the premise that a fanatical U.S. general launches an atomic attack on the Soviets and the president must deal with all angles, thus playing into the nuclear war issue so debated at the time, while the latter had Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper as dropouts from society searching for the real America on their motorcycles. Unfortunately, they find it. Both films were considered landmarks of the 1960s. Southern's novel, "Candy," co-written with Mason Hoffenberg and published in 1958...

A satirical author of fiction, including the then-scandalous erotic adventure, "Candy", Southern contributed his incisive wit and intelligence to several screen gems. His best known screenplays include "Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" (1963), co-written with Stanley Kubrick and Peter George, and "Easy Rider" (1969), co-written with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. Southern also worked on "The Cincinnati Kid", "The Loved One" (both 1965) and "Barbarella" (1968). Southern believed that the important thing about writing was "the capacity to astonish," and he demonstrated that credo in "Dr. Strangelove" and "Easy Rider," both of which earned him Academy Award nominations. The former centered on the premise that a fanatical U.S. general launches an atomic attack on the Soviets and the president must deal with all angles, thus playing into the nuclear war issue so debated at the time, while the latter had Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper as dropouts from society searching for the real America on their motorcycles. Unfortunately, they find it. Both films were considered landmarks of the 1960s. Southern's novel, "Candy," co-written with Mason Hoffenberg and published in 1958 in Paris under to pseudonym "Maxwell Kenton," and in the U.S. in 1964, is the story of an innocent girl who is looking for her father. A parody of "Candide," it was considered sexually raunchy, and was almost banned in several states, but courts, while calling it "revolting" and "disgusting," found no basis to keep it from being distributed. Southern was also said to have worked on 40 screenplays which were not produced. Others that were included "The Cincinnati Kid" (1965), which starred Steve McQueen as a gambler seeking to overtake reigning king Edward G. Robinson. "Barbarella" (1968) was for years an embarrassment to its star, Jane Fonda, and is a tale of a 41st Century space adventuress. "The Magic Christian" (1970; based on his 1959 novel), like "Dr. Strangelove," starred Peter Sellers and used the premise that people will do anything for money. After "The Magic Christian" Southern had few projects filmed. In the 1980s and 1990s, he taught screenwriting at New York University and then Columbia University. (He, in fact, died of respiratory failure while walking to class on the Columbia campus.) In 1976, he wrote the CBS film "Stop, Thief," the story of "Boss" Tweed, the corrupt New York politician. During the 1981-1982 season he was one of the writers of "Saturday Night Live". In 1988, Southern collaborated with Whoopi Goldberg on the screenplay for "The Telephone" in which Goldberg starred as an out-of-work actress with psychological problems. Not only was the film considered a low point of Goldberg's career, but she sued to halt distribution and it had only a limited run. Southern's last novel -- and, at the time, his first in 20 years -- was "Texas Summer" (1992), a somewhat autobiographical tale of a boy's coming-of-age in rural Texas. His last published work was the text of "Virgin" (1995), the coffee table book/story of Virgin Records.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Source, The (1999) Himself
2.
 Burroughs (1983) Himself
3.
 Cocksucker Blues (1972)
4.
 The Queen (1968)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Dallas, Texas
1943:
Served in US Army in Europe during WWII
:
While at the Sorbonne, began to contribute to literary publications like the <i>Paris Review</i>
1958:
Wrote first novel, "Flash and Filigree"; published in England
1959:
Co-authored novel, "Candy," with Mason Hoffenberg under joint pseudonym of Maxwell Kenton
1960:
Publishd first solo novel, "The Magic Christian"
1962:
Asked by Stanley Kubrick to collaborate on a screenplay that eventually became "Dr. Strangelove; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb"
1964:
First produced screenplay, "Dr. Strangelove ...", co-written with Stanley Kubrick and Peter George; received first Oscar nomination
1965:
With Ring Lardner Jr, wrote script for "The Cincinnati Kid", starring Steve McQueen
1965:
Collaborated with Christopher Isherwood on the screenplay adaptation of "The Loved One", based on the Evelyn Waugh novel
1968:
Appeared on screen alongside Andy Warhol in "The Queen", about a drag queen beauty pageant
1968:
Was one of eight credited writers who contributed to the script for the Roger Vadim-directed sci-fi spoof "Barbarella"
1969:
Co-wrote the screenplay for "Easy Rider" with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper; garnered second Academy Award nomination
1970:
Co-adapted his novel "The Magic Christian"; wrote screenplay with Peter Sellers and director Joseph McGrath
1976:
Wrote only longform TV project, "Stop, Thief" (CBS)
:
Was a staff writer for NBC's "Saturday Night Live"
:
Taught screenwriting at New York University and Columbia University during the 1980s and 1990s
1983:
Appeared in the documentary "Burroughs"
1988:
Co-wrote (with Harry Nilsson) the screenplay for "The Telephone"
1992:
Published first novel in 20 years, "Texas Summer"
1995:
Publication of final work: the text for "Virgin"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Southern Methodist University: Dallas , Texas -
University of Chicago: Chicago , Illinois -
Northwestern University: Evanston , Illinois - 1948
Sorbonne, University of Paris: - 1948 - 1950

Notes

He was the advisory editor for the "Best American Short Stories, 1955-56".

"The important thing in writing is the capacity to astonish. Not shock -- shock is a worn out word -- but astonish. The world has no grounds whatever for complacency. The Titanic couldn't sink, but it did. Where you find smugness you find something worth blasting. I want to blast it." --Terry Southern.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Carol Kauffman. Married in 1956; separated in the 1960s; divorced in 1972.
companion:
Gail Gerber. Survived him.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Terry M Southern. Pharmacist.
mother:
Helen Southern.
son:
Nile Southern. Survived him.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Flash and Filigree" Coward McCann
"Candy" Olympia Press
"The Magic Christian" Random House
"Writers in Revolt"
"The Journal of 'The Loved One': The Production Log of a Motion Picture Random House
"Red Dirt Marijuana and Other Tastes" New American Library
"Blue Movie" World Publishing
"Texas Summer"
"Virgin"
"Now Dig This" Grove Press
"A Grand Guy: The Art and Life of Terry Southern" Harper Collins
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

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