A Conversation for Jack Kerouac

Last years of his life

Post 1

No O2

Another note: Jack did indeed live his last years with his mother, but also (and more importantly) his last wife, Stella. His last marriage, to his third wife Stella Sampas, had perhaps more to do with his obsession with caring for his mother or his depressed dealing with being “Jack Kerouac, the legend” than it did love for Sampas. However, this one lasted longer than either of his two previous marriages, continuing for three years until it was finally terminated when Jack died in 1969.
Stella was the older sister of Jack’s good boyhood friend, Pete Sampas. By marrying her, Jack was continuing his pattern of relationships with women associated with his friends. A few months before their marriage, Jack’s mother Gabrielle suffered a stroke, and she needed someone to take care of her. Perhaps Jack saw the very capable Stella as a nurse; perhaps she reminded him of the simplistic life in Lowell during childhood that he now looked back on nostalgically. It was certainly true that when they married in November of 1966, Jack was dealing rather badly with the fame he had finally acquired. “This fame shot,” he had written to Ginsberg on August 28th of 1958, “makes you gripe more than blow, doesn’t it.” Whatever the reason, he was not the ideal husband; he was constantly drinking and his quiet, sweet good nature had turned to bitter dolor. Neal Cassady’s wife, Carolyn, a long-time romance of Jack’s, theorized meanings for this in her autobiography:

...I’d never known a man with such a tender heart, nor one so compassionate. I wondered if [Jack] was ashamed of being gentle and compassionate…I learned he had to be drunk to act so crudely, and perhaps that’s why in later years he was rarely far from a bottle.

Jack, Stella, and Gabrielle moved back to Lowell, and Jack was thrown out of most of the Lowell bars—often barefoot, as his new wife attempted to curb his drinking by hiding his shoes. He also ran up huge phone bills, rambling on with his friends in drunken desperation to recapture the old days in New York and California…old days that did not include Stella or Lowell. And even after they were married, Jack was still in love with Carolyn Cassady, and he would telephone her, drunk, and ramble on to her until she, saddened by what Jack had become, hung up.
Seemingly without other options, Stella ripped the telephone out of the wall. But despite all the frustrating things that Jack made her face, Stella stayed with him until he finally died in 1969…from mixing Dexedrine Pills and Johnny Walker Red.

Last years of his life

Post 2


Thanks No O2 for that additional information.

Key: Complain about this post

Last years of his life

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more