Ken Kesey Birthday & Fun Facts

Height, Age, Net Worth, Biography & More

Akinwalere Olaleye
Feb 29, 2024 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on May 14, 2022
Fact-checked by Dimple Panchal
We have compiled some interesting facts about Ken Kesey, his personal life, career, and achievements for you to explore.
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Read time: 5.2 Min

About Ken Kesey

Ken Elton Kesey, better known as Ken Kesey, was a novelist, essayist, and icon for the '60s counterculture movement.
Ken Kesey was the author of the famous novel 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,' which was published in 1962. The backdrop of the novel was set in a mental hospital, and the story revolved around the escape of a person from the mental asylum.
As an American writer, he has also written other significant books like 'Sometimes a Great Notion' (1964), 'Demon Box' (1986), and 'Sailor Song' (1992). His masterpiece 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' was later made a movie, and the actor Jack Nicholson won an Oscar in the aftermath. Ken Kesey used political allegory in his book that talked about the oppressive nature of the government. He had anti-establishment political views, where he questioned the hegemony of the government that forces the society to comply with their set rules. He was an active member of the psychedelic literary group, also called 'Merry Pranksters.' Ken felt that he was a connecting bridge between Beat Generation and the hippies, which was a decade apart.
If you want to know more about this path-breaking author, make sure to take a look at the following sections.

Ken Kesey Net Worth, Earnings, And Spending Habits

What was Ken Kesey’s net worth?

He was a successful novelist and a rich one too. His net worth is around $ 1.5 million.

How much did Ken Kesey earn per year?

He was a star writer and a champion wrestler at high school. However, no information is found on his annual earnings.

Height, Age, And Physical Attributes

How tall was Ken Kesey?

Ken Kesey is a highly acclaimed author in the literary world. However, no information was found about his height.

How old was Ken Kesey?

This gifted novelist died on November 10, 2001, in Eugene, Oregon, because of liver cancer surgery. He was 66 years old when he passed away.

Childhood And Education

Ken Kesey was born in La Junta, Colorado, on September 17, 1935. His parents were Frederick A. Kesey and his mother Geneva Smith, or Geneva Kesey. They were farmers who relocated to Springfield, Oregon. He had a younger sibling named Chuck Kesey. As a young boy, he harbored the Olympic dreams. He was a champion wrestler in high school and college days. However, his Olympic dreams got crushed because of his shoulder injury.
He studied B.A. in Speech and Communication at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication in 1957. It is the same place where he met his future wife in his college days. He also received a football scholarship and Fred Low Scholarship for being a remarkable wrestler in college. Ken Kesey was born to be a wrestler with his well-built structure. He took literature classes with an alumnus of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, who was earlier attached to Cornell University. During his college days, he got inspired by literary modernism and read the books of Ernest Hemmingway. In 1958-1959, he won the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship. His genre was creative non-fiction.
As a budding novelist, he won the Harper-Saxton Prize with $2,000 prize money. Ken Kesey, under the guidance of Malcolm Cowley, drafted a manuscript that finally resulted in the 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.'

Family, Romance, And Relationships

Who was Ken Kesey’s partner?

Ken Kesey married his high-school sweetheart Norma Faye Haxby. Three children were born out of this wedlock. They have two daughters named Zane and Shannon and a son Jed. Ken Kesey also had another daughter, Sunshine Kesey, apart from his two daughters from Faye. Sunshine Kesey was born in 1966, she was born to Ken Kesey and Merry Pranksters Carolyn Adams. However, the last-born child of Ken is raised by Adams and stepfather Jerry Garcia.

Career And Professional Highlights

His personal experience as a paid volunteer for Veterans Administration Hospital in California set the context for the background of the 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' (1962). Some of his other noted works as a novelist are 'Sometimes a Great Notion' (1964), 'Kesey's Garage Sale' (1973), 'Demon Box' (1986), and 'The Further Inquiry' (1990). During this time, he had a psychedelic experience on his travel with the Merry Pranksters. He also wrote a children's book in 1988, named 'Little Tricker the Squirrel Meets Big Double the Bear.' He also wrote 'Caverns' (1990) a mystery novel, 'In Sailor Song' (1992) a comedy, and he wrote 'Last Go Round' (1994) with co-author Ken Babbs.

Best Known For…

Ken Kesey was an affluent writer ever born, his net worth got boosted because of his book 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962). They adapted this book into a film. However, Ken disliked this classic film based on his book because the film director did not adhere to the narrative of the book. This film hit a jackpot at the Oscars, as the film won five Academy Awards in the categories of Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Best Director. However, Kesey did not like the film's treatment. He also preceded the Psychedelic Era, Tom Wolfe wrote a non-fiction book 'The Electric Kool-Acid Test' (1968) talked about the Hippie culture redefined by Kesey. Ken also headed the Merry Pranksters group that combined literary interest with the Psychedelic culture. Ken Kesey was a pioneer of the countercultural revolution and the hippie culture in America.

Ken Kesey’s Hobbies And Interests

Ken Kesey had a keen interest in magic, hypnotism, and ventriloquism. He was also a voracious reader and interested in wrestling.

Other Interesting Ken Kesey Facts And Trivia

  • He was the owner of a bus named 'Furthur' that took him and other dignitaries across the U.S.
  • Ken Kesey lived with his wife and children on the family farm in Oregon. His wife claimed her husband had never visited Woodstock Music Festival with his 'Merry Prankstar' group, but her husband was always in Eugene.
  • His widowed wife is currently married to novelist Larry McMurtry, who is also a Pulitzer Prize winner.
  • Ken Kesey also studied fiction writing at Wallace Stegner's program at the prestigious Stanford University.
  • He also wrote a play named 'Twister: A Ritual Reality in Three Quarters Plus Overtime if Necessary' (1999), based on L. Frank Baum's novel and the ‘Wizard of Oz.’
  • He was once jailed in Redwood jail in California in 1966.

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Ken Kesey Birthday & Fun Facts Facts

Birth Name

Ken Elton Kesey

Date of Birth


Date of Death




Place of Birth

La Junta


0 cm

Child Star?



American Novelist


University of Oregon

Net Worth



Norma Faye Haxby


Frederick A. Kesey, Geneva Smith


Chuck Kesey
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Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

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