Fun Facts Friday: Ken Kesey

September 17, 2021

Ken Kesey (17 September, 1935 – 10 November, 2001) was a novelist, and essayist whose successful stories made him a countercultural figure. Mr. Kesey is remembered for his novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Fun Facts Friday: Ken KeseyBooks by Ken Kesey*

Fun Facts about Ken Kesey:

  1. Born as Kenneth Elton Kesey in La Junta, CO, his parents were dairy farmers.
  2. In 1946 the family moved to Springfield, OR where the young Mr. Kesey was known as a champion wrestler in high-school and college. Mr. Kesey was so good he qualified for the US Olympic team, however a shoulder injury prevented him from going, and actually stopped his wrestling career.
  3. As an avid reader Mr. Kesey admired author Edgar Rice Burroughs and Zane Grey. He actually named his son Zane.
  4. In 1956 Ken Kesey eloped with his high-school sweetheart Norma Haxby (Faye). The couple met in 7th grade and stayed married until his death. Faye later married Larry McMurtry, a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist.
  5. A sign of the times, Mr. Kesey had a daughter out of wedlock, with his wife’s permission. The daughter, called Sunshine, was raised by her mother and stepfather, Jerry Garcia.
  6. Mr. Kesey got his training in Stanford University’s Create Writing Center.
  7. While working the night shift at Menlo Park Veterans’ Hospital, talking with patients Ken Kesey got the idea for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
  8. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was successful from the start. It was adapted to be a successful stage play, and later to an award winning movie and a timeless classic.
  9. Originally Mr. Kesey was involved in the production of the film, however he left after two weeks. The movie took too much liberties and was unlike the book. Faye Kesey, his widow, said later that the author was generally supportive of the move.
  10. Jed Kesey, the author’s son took after his father as a star wrestler for the University of Oregon. Tragically he died when the wrestling team’s van slid off an icy highway. Ken Kesey was deeply affected and called Jed a victim of the policies which didn’t allow the team enough funding for a safe vehicle. Always a man of action, the author donated around $34,000 to purchase a proper bus for the team.

Books by Ken Kesey*

Zohar – Man of la Book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

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Fun Facts Friday: Ken Kesey
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Fun Facts Friday: Ken Kesey
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Ken Kesey (17 September, 1935 – 10 November, 2001) was a novelist, and essayist whose successful stories made him a countercultural figure. Mr. Kesey is remembered for his novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
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