Het is vandaag al 25 jaar geleden dat de Amerikaanse schrijver Terry Southern is overleden.

Terry Southern was an American novelist, essayist, screenwriter and university lecturer, noted for his distinctive satirical style. Part of the Paris postwar literary movement in the 1950s and a companion to Beat writers in Greenwich Village, Southern was also at the center of Swinging London in the 1960s and helped to change the style and substance of American films in the 1970s. He briefly wrote for Saturday Night Live in the 1980s.

Southern’s dark and often absurdist style of satire helped to define the sensibilities of several generations of writers, readers, directors and film goers. He is credited by journalist Tom Wolfe as having invented New Journalism with the publication of “Twirling at Ole Miss” in Esquire in February 1963. In early 1964, Southern was hired to collaborate with British author Christopher Isherwood on a screen adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s satirical novel The Loved One, directed by British filmmaker Tony Richardson. Working with Richardson and Isherwood, Southern turned Waugh’s novel into “an all-out attack on Hollywood, consumerism, and the hypocrisies surrounding man’s fear of death”. During the frequent downtime during the filming of Casino Royale, he also began work on the screenplay for Roger Vadim‘s Barbarella. The June 1, 1967, release of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band gave Southern pop-culture immortality, thanks to his photograph being included (on the recommendation of Ringo Starr) on the album’s front-cover collage, which was photographed by Michael Cooper. 

Southern ’s reputation was established with the publication of his comic novels Candy and The Magic Christian and through his gift for writing memorable film dialogue as evident in Dr. StrangeloveThe Loved OneThe Cincinnati Kid, and The Magic Christian. His work on Easy Rider helped create the independent film movement of the 1970s, although most of the material Southern wrote for the main characters was cut out during the editing process: Fonda and Hopper mostly improvised a great deal as they filmed.

Southern’s pre-eminence waned rapidly in the 1970s—his screen credits decreased, his book and story output dwindled, and he acquired a reputation as an out-of-control substance abuser. He continued to drink heavily and take various drugs; in particular, his dependence on Dexamyl badly affected his health as he aged. Because of his acute money problems, Southern took an adjunct lectureship in screenwriting at New York University, where he taught from the fall of 1972 to the spring of 1974; although popular among students, he was ultimately dismissed for holding his classes in a local bar. On October 25, 1995, Southern collapsed on the steps of Columbia’s Dodge Hall. He was taken to the adjacent St. Luke’s Hospital, where he died four days later of respiratory failure. (Wikipedia)

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