Timothy Leary, Harvard professor turned guru of LSD who encouraged the '60s generation to "turn on, tune in, drop out," died Friday of cancer, a friend said. He was 75.
Leary, who had turned his final battle into a public event he turned "the most fascinating part of my life," died at his hilltop Beverly Hills home, said Carol Rosin, a friend for 25 years.Fans could follow his deteriorating health through his home page on the Internet, and last month, he said he was exploring the idea of allowing users of the computer communications network to watch as he committed suicide.
In the end, though, he died in his sleep, Rosin said. His home page announced the death with a simple "Timothy has passed."
His death was filmed, Rosin said, although she was unsure of plans for the tape.
She said his remains would be launched into space in September or October, but plans had yet to be finalized.
His life seldom failed to polarize two generations - the parents and flower children of the 1960s. To some of the most gifted members of America's counterculture, he was host, confidant and drug supplier.
But for all his popularity with segments of the baby boomers, Leary's activities cost him his Harvard job and landed him in prison for a time.
It was in 1959, Leary joined the Harvard faculty as a psychology professor. There, he met professor Richard Alpert, who later changed his name to Baba Ram Dass, and began a series of controlled experiments with psychedelic drugs.
Four years later Leary and Alpert were fired for using undergraduate students in the tests.
The pair retired to Millbrook Estate, a 63-room mansion in upstate New York once owned by the Mellon family.
But ingesting mass quantities of LSD and bragging about it did not endear Leary to members of the Establishment, especially the ones with badges.
And for the next 20 years, he endured severe trouble with the law.
Born in Springfield, Mass., in 1920 to a teacher-mother and dentist-father, Leary attended West Point, joined the Army and earned an undergraduate psychology degree at the University of Alabama while in service.