Known for movies

Short Info

DiedNovember 10, 2001, Eugene, Oregon, United States
SpouseNorma Faye Haxby
FactHospitalized after suffering a stroke. [September 1997]

Ken Kesey was born in La Junta, Colorado, on September 17, 1935. His father, Frederick A. Kesey, was a farm equipment salesman, and his mother, Geneva (née Smith), was a homemaker. Kesey had two older sisters, Fay and Marcia, and one younger brother, Chuck. Kesey’s mother died of cancer when he was eight years old.

Kesey was a star athlete in high school and excelled in track and field. He also played football and basketball. After graduating from high school, Kesey enrolled at the University of Oregon on a track and field scholarship. He studied creative writing and was active in the campus literary scene.

Kesey’s first novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, was published in 1962. The novel was an instant success and made Kesey a household name. The novel was adapted into a film in 1975, starring Jack Nicholson.

Kesey’s second novel, Sometimes a Great Notion, was published in 1964. The novel was adapted into a film in 1971, starring Paul Newman.

Kesey’s third novel, Sailor Song, was published in 1992.

Kesey’s fourth novel, Last Go Round, was published posthumously in 2002.

Kesey’s net worth was estimated to be $10 million at the time of his death.

Kesey was married to Faye Haxby from 1958 until his death in 2001. The couple had three children: Jed, Zane, and Shannon.

Kesey died of liver cancer on November 10, 2001, at his home in Pleasant Hill, Oregon. He was 66 years old.

General Info

Full NameKen Kesey
DiedNovember 10, 2001, Eugene, Oregon, United States
ProfessionActor, Author, Poet, Novelist, Screenwriter, Essayist
EducationSpringfield High School, Stanford University, University of Oregon


SpouseNorma Faye Haxby
ChildrenJed Kesey, Zane Kesey, Shannon Kesey, Sunshine Kesey
ParentsFrederick A. Kesey, Geneva Smith
SiblingsChuck Kesey


MoviesMagic Trip, The Net, Go Further, Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Sometimes a Great Notion

Social profile links


1[on not being mentioned as author of 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest', when it won the Best Picture award] Oscar night should have been one of the great days of my life, like my wedding. I really love movies. When they can be turned around to break your heart like this, well, it's like something you never thought would happen.


1Through his ancestors William Terrell and Susannah Waters, he is an eighth cousin once removed to Jimmy Carter and a ninth cousin once removed to Barack Obama.
2The stage adaptation of his novel, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," was awarded the 1973 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Play Production at the Arlington Park Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.
3In 1967 he fathered a daughter, Sunshine, with a woman who called herself "Mountain Girl", who in the 1980s married musician Jerry Garcia.
4His son Jed, killed in a 1984 van wreck on a road trip with the University of Oregon wrestling team, was buried in the back yard.
5The motion picture Gerry (2002) directed by Gus Van Sant is dedicated to his memory.
6Never saw (nor wanted to see) the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), based on his novel, because he had "other people in mind".
7In 1959 he volunteered for drug experiments at a hospital in Menlo Park, California, where he worked in the psychiatric ward. That served as his inspiration for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". He was not, as many have come to believe, a patient in the ward when he volunteered for those experiments. He worked there as an attendant.
8Graduated from the University of Oregon.
9Children: Shannon (b. 1960), Zane (b. 1961), Jed (b. 1964, d. 1984), and Sunshine (b. 1967)
10Studied writing at Stanford University.
11His parents were dairy farmers.
12Hospitalized after suffering a stroke. [September 1997]




Magic Trip: Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place2011Documentary based on the works of / words and recordings
Twister: A Musical Catastrophe2000Video play "Twister: A Ritual Reality in Three Quarters Plus Overtime if Necessary"
Fire on the Track: The Steve Prefontaine Story1995Video documentary
Drug-Taking and the Arts1993Documentary notebooks
Toestanden1976novel "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest1975based on the novel by
Sometimes a Great Notion1970novel


Even Cowgirls Get the Blues1993Sissy's Daddy
Ricochet River2001Baseball Announcer
Twister: A Musical Catastrophe2000VideoOz / Kesey / Bones / ... (voice)


Twister: A Musical Catastrophe2000Video


Twister: A Musical Catastrophe2000Video


Even Cowgirls Get the Blues1993performer: "Happy Birthday to You"


Animal House of Blues: How a Community Helped Create a Hollywood Blockbuster or Two2012Documentary in memory of
Go Further2003Documentary dedicatee
Gerry2002in memory of
Completely Cuckoo1997Video documentary special thanks
How Much Is That Window in the Doggie?1991Short thanks


Magic Trip: Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place2011DocumentaryHimself
Edge City: The Story of the Merry Pranksters2008DocumentaryKen Kesey
Go Further2003DocumentaryHimself
Rubber Tramps2002Documentary
The Beatles Revolution2000TV Movie documentaryHimself
Tripping1999TV Movie documentaryHimself
Completely Cuckoo1997Video documentaryHimself - author of novel 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'
Timothy Leary's Last Trip1997DocumentaryHimself
Great Drives1996TV Mini-Series documentaryHimself (volume 3: Pacific Coast Highway)
A Conversation with Ken Kesey1995ShortHimself
Rock & Roll1995TV Mini-Series documentaryHimself
Fire on the Track: The Steve Prefontaine Story1995Video documentaryHimself
American Masters1994TV Series documentaryHimself
Flashbacks1990Documentary shortCollaborator / Interview Subject
Late Night with David Letterman1983TV SeriesHimself
Grateful Dead: The Closing of Winterland1978TV MovieHimself
TVTV Looks at the Academy Awards1976TV Special documentaryHimself

Archive Footage

The Sixties2014TV Mini-Series documentaryHimself - Novelist
Sunshine Daydream2013Himself
The Substance: Albert Hofmann's LSD2011DocumentaryHimself
1980s Earth First! The Antidote for Despair2011DocumentaryHimself
Hippies2007TV Movie documentaryHimself
The Net2003DocumentaryHimself
The Source: The Story of the Beats and the Beat Generation1999DocumentaryHimself

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

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