Tuesday, November 29, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Jerry Rubin Dead At 56; '60S Yippie -- Radical Later Turned Yuppie Businessman

AP: Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune

LOS ANGELES - Jerry Rubin, the Yippie who helped give 1960s anti-war protests their zany air and became a symbol of his generation's conversion to yuppie capitalism in the 1980s, is dead at age 56.

Rubin, the Chicago Eight defendant and prankster of the counterculture, died last night, hospital spokesman Angel Bracamontes said.

Rubin had been at the University of California-Los Angeles Medical Center since Nov. 14, when he was hit by a car while jaywalking across Wilshire Boulevard near his Brentwood home.

Rubin, who romped through demonstrations in the 1960s wearing an Uncle Sam hat and brandishing a toy M-16 rifle, turned to spiritualism in the 1970s and venture capitalism in the 1980s, evolving from a bearded radical into a tailored businessman selling health foods. He once said he had cut his hair and shaved so people would listen.

"He got caught up in the youth rebellions of the '60s," said Tom Hayden, fellow Chicago Eight defendant and now a California state senator. "But he had an organizing instinct. He was a P.T. Barnum, if you will. He had a flair for the dramatic and how to market a message."

Rubin and a band of radicals that included the late Abbie Hoffman and Paul Krassner formed the Youth International Party, or Yippies. They were major players during the bloody demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

The next year, President Nixon's new administration brought federal conspiracy indictments against eight radicals. Black Panther leader Bobby Seale and seven others, including Rubin and Hoffman, were charged with conspiracy to incite violence and crossing state lines with intent to riot.

U.S. District Judge Julius Hoffman ordered Seale bound and gagged when he protested rulings, and eventually severed Seale's case from the others, turning the Chicago Eight into the Chicago Seven.


The trial of the remaining seven became a 4 1/2-month spectacle. Wild-haired defendants Rubin, Hayden, Hoffman, Rennie Davis, David Dellinger, John Froines and Lee Weiner wore judicial robes into court. They and their attorneys were cited for contempt nearly 200 times, though all but 15 of the citations were dismissed.

All seven were acquitted of conspiracy; all but Froines and Weiner were convicted of intent to riot. Rubin, Hoffman, Davis, Dellinger and Hayden were sentenced to prison, but the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the convictions, citing errors by Judge Hoffman.

Twenty years later, Rubin would say that he "missed the sense of purpose, I miss the sense of righteous anger. . . . But I'm much healthier than I was then."


In the 1970s, Rubin discovered yoga, bioenergetics and a smorgasbord of self-awareness programs that eventually led him to Wall Street. His angle: "networking parties" for yuppie executives.

That didn't sit well with Abbie Hoffman, who appeared with Rubin in a series of "Yippie-vs.-yuppie" debates in the mid-1980s. But after Hoffman committed suicide at 52 in 1989, Rubin was the only Chicago defendant to attend the funeral.

Rubin continued to prosper and, in 1991, moved to Los Angeles as an independent marketer for a Dallas-based firm that sells a nutritional drink called Wow, containing kelp, ginseng and bee pollen. Seale was one of his salesmen.

"I'd like to remember him as a person who saw things very differently, who was a nonconformist, and that part of the American spirit suffered a blow with his passing," Hayden said.

------------------ THE CHICAGO EIGHT: ------------------ Where are they now?

Here is what happened to Jerry Rubin's fellow Chicago Eight defendants:

-- Abbie Hoffman: Committed suicide in April 1989 at 52, using phenobarbital and alcohol. Had been the most politically involved Yippie leader, although he vanished for seven years in New York to avoid cocaine-possession charges.

-- Rennie Davis: Right-wing capitalist and president of a Denver think tank that develops technologies for the environment. Briefly sold life insurance and dabbled in Hinduism.

-- David Dellinger: Longtime pacifist lives off grant money and lecturing fees near Peacham, Vt. Regularly fasts in a protest to change the name of Columbus Day to Native American Day.

-- John Froines: Director of the Occupational Health Center at the University of California, Los Angeles. Served in the Carter administration as director of toxic substances for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

-- Tom Hayden: California state senator and founder of Students for a Democratic Society, spearheaded several environmental initiatives. Was married to actress Jane Fonda for 16 years; divorced in 1990.

-- Lee Weiner: Works with a direct-mail firm in Washington, D.C., for nonprofit organizations and political clients. In membership development at the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith in New York. Participated in recent protests for AIDS research and Soviet Jews.

-- Bobby Seale: The former Black Panther leader, whose case was severed from that of the others (turning the Chicago Eight into the Chicago Seven) works in minority recruitment at Temple University in Philadelphia, where he is doing graduate work in political science and African-American studies. Proceeds from his cookbook, "Barbecuin' with Bobby," have helped to fund scholarships for minority students.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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