William S. Burroughs

Author, Screenwriter, Private detective
Though he was considered "the Godfather of the Beat Generation," William S. Burroughs had little in common with the sons of immigrants who established themselves post-war as America's first unique literary movement ... Read more »
Born: 02/05/1914 in St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Filmography

Actor (28)

This Song For Jack 2014 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

William Burroughs: A Man Within 2010 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

FLicKeR 2007 (Movie)

(Actor)

Condo Painting 2000 (Movie)

(Actor)

Sleep in a Nest of Flames 2000 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Let It Come Down: the Life of Paul Bowles 1999 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Source 1999 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Music of Kurt Weill: September Songs 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues 1994 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg 1994 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

A Junky's Christmas 1993 (Movie)

Narration (Narrator)

American Flash Cards 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Narrator

Glitterbug 1992 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Wax, or the Discovery of Television Among Bees 1992 (Movie)

James (Hive) Maker (Actor)

Naked Making Lunch 1991 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Drugstore Cowboy 1989 (Movie)

Tom the Priest (Actor)

Heavy Petting 1989 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Twister 1989 (Movie)

Man in Barn (Actor)

Home of the Brave 1986 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Beat Generation - An American Dream 1986 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

It Don't Pay to Be an Honest Citizen 1985 (Movie)

Mafia Don (Actor)

William S. Burroughs: Commisssioner of Sewers 1985 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

What Happened to Kerouac? 1984 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Burroughs 1982 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Poetry in Motion 1981 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Underground and Emigrants 1974 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Chappaqua 1965 (Movie)

Opium Jones (Actor)
Writer (2)

Naked Lunch 1991 (Movie)

("Naked Lunch") (Source Material (from novel))

The Discipline of D.E. 1977 (Movie)

from short story (From Story)
Music (2)

Elephant 2003 (Movie)

("Meeting Of International Conference Of Technological Psychiatry") (Music)

Elephant 2003 (Movie)

("Meeting Of International Conference Of Technological Psychiatry") (Performer)

Biography

Though he was considered "the Godfather of the Beat Generation," William S. Burroughs had little in common with the sons of immigrants who established themselves post-war as America's first unique literary movement. Born into upper middle class affluence, Missouri native Burroughs was influenced by his occult-obsessed mother and a family cook who filled his head with tales of Irish witchcraft. A voracious reader of pulp novels, the teenage Burroughs idolized the gangsters of the Jazz Era while a serious injury treated with morphine gave him a taste for opiates. While touring Weimar Germany during the rise of the Third Reich, Burroughs acted on his long-suppressed homosexual impulses. In New York during World War II, he made the acquaintance of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, soon to break out as guiding lights of the nascent Beat movement. Burroughs also developed a sexual relationship with the unstable but brilliant Joan Vollmer, who bore him a son in 1947. A looming prison sentence for drug trafficking chased Burroughs and his family to Mexico, where he shot Vollmer dead in a parlor prank gone wrong. Losing both his companion and custody of his son, Burroughs paradoxically found his voice as a writer and published his masterpiece, Naked Lunch, in 1959. The darkly satirical novel prompted a highly publicized obscenity trial in America, making Burroughs a cause célèbre and stamping him as an outlaw chronicler of atomic age alienation, whose influence can be seen in the works of such diverse artists as musicians Mick Jagger and Kurt Cobain, science fiction novelist Philip K. Dick, performance artist Laurie Anderson and filmmaker David Cronenberg.

Relationships

Mortimer Burroughs

Father

Laura Burroughs

Mother
died 1970

William Burroughs

Son
died 1981

William Burroughs

Grandfather

James Gerauerholz

Companion
survived him

Ilse Klapper

Wife
Married 1937 in Dubrovnik to enable Klapper to come to the U.S.; marriage dissolved upon arrival

Joan Vollmer

Wife
Accidentally shot and killed her while playing William Tell Sept. 6, 1951

EDUCATION

attended private schools in New Mexico

Harvard University

Cambridge , Massachusetts
did graduate work

Harvard University

Cambridge , Massachusetts
did graduate work

Harvard University

Cambridge , Massachusetts

Vienna University

Milestones

1991

Underwent triple bypass surgery

1989

Collaborated in comic opera "The Black Rider"

1969

Wrote film script "The Last Words of Dutch Schultz"

1956

Underwent apomorphine to cure his drug addiction

1953

Wrote first book "Junkie: Confessions of an Unredeemed Drug Addict"

1943

Lived in Greenwich Village, NY

Developed addiction to heroin

Became a painter and calligrapher

Drafted in the Army during WWII, discharged after three months

Lived in Tangier during the late 1950s

Made anthropological journeys to South America

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