Terry Southern

Screenwriter, Novelist, Teacher
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 ... Read more »
Born: 04/30/1924 in Alvarado, Texas, USA

Filmography

Writer (11)

Heavy Put-Away 2014 (Movie)

(Source Material)

The Telephone 1988 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The End of the Road 1970 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Easy Rider 1969 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Magic Christian 1969 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Barbarella 1968 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Candy 1968 (Movie)

("Candy") (Source Material (from novel))

The Cincinnati Kid 1965 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Dr. Strangelove 1964 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Loved One 1964 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Stop, Thief! (TV Show)

Writer
Actor (4)

The Source 1999 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Queen 1993 (Movie)

(Actor)

Burroughs 1982 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Cocksucker Blues 1972 (Movie)

(Actor)
Producer (1)

The End of the Road 1970 (Movie)

(Producer)

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 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.

Relationships

Helen Southern

Mother

Gail Gerber

Companion
survived him

Carol Kauffman

Wife
married in 1956 separated in the 1960s divorced in 1972

Terry Southern

Father

Nile Southern

Son
survived him

EDUCATION

University of Chicago

Chicago , Illinois

Southern Methodist University

Dallas , Texas

Sorbonne, University of Paris

Paris 1948 - 1950
attended on the G.I. Bill

Northwestern University

Evanston , Illinois 1948

Milestones

1995

Publication of final work: the text for "Virgin"

1992

Published first novel in 20 years, "Texas Summer"

1988

Co-wrote (with Harry Nilsson) the screenplay for "The Telephone"

1983

Appeared in the documentary "Burroughs"

1976

Wrote only longform TV project, "Stop, Thief" (CBS)

1969

Co-adapted his novel "The Magic Christian"; wrote screenplay with Peter Sellers and director Joseph McGrath

1968

Co-wrote the screenplay for "Easy Rider" with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper; garnered second Academy Award nomination

1968

Was one of eight credited writers who contributed to the script for the Roger Vadim-directed sci-fi spoof "Barbarella"

1968

Appeared on screen alongside Andy Warhol in "The Queen", about a drag queen beauty pageant

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

1964

First produced screenplay, "Dr. Strangelove ...", co-written with Stanley Kubrick and Peter George; received first Oscar nomination

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"

1960

Publishd first solo novel, "The Magic Christian"

1959

Co-authored novel, "Candy," with Mason Hoffenberg under joint pseudonym of Maxwell Kenton

1958

Wrote first novel, "Flash and Filigree"; published in England

1942

Served in US Army in Europe during WWII

Raised in Dallas, Texas

Was a staff writer for NBC's "Saturday Night Live"

Taught screenwriting at New York University and Columbia University during the 1980s and 1990s

While at the Sorbonne, began to contribute to literary publications like the Paris Review

Bonus Trivia

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

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"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.

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