Kesey experimented with LSD before it was illegal, in a program which was later revealed to be run by the CIA, through the Veterans Administration hospital at Menlo Park, CA. He also worked at that same hospital during the same time period. These experiences inspired his first successful novel, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." The movie based on the novel won five major Oscars: Best Actor ( Jack Nicholson), Best Actress ( Louise Fletcher), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture and Best Director. It also featured Scatman Crothers. His next novel "Sometimes a Great Notion" was also made into a movie, this time nominated for two Oscars.
He continued to use LSD as well as promote its use by others, including at parties called Acid Tests. A cross-country trip in a psychedelic bus named Furthur with a group known as the Merry Pranksters is chronicled by Tom Wolfe in his book "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test." The bus was driven by Neal Cassady.
Kesey competed as a wrestler in college. According to Wikipedia, his winning percentage ranks in the top ten of Oregon competitors to this day.
Cause of death was complications from surgery for liver cancer.
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