Neal Cassady was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on February 8, 1926. He was raised by an alcoholic father in skid row hotels and spent time in reform schools and juvenile prisons. While visiting a friend in New York in December 1946, he met Jack Kerouac and Allen S. Ginsberg. Together they would become part of the Beat movement. Cassady appeared as a main character in several books including Go by John Clellon Holmes, On the Road by Kerouac, and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe. After a night of hard partying in Mexico, Cassady wandered onto a deserted railroad, intending to walk fifteen miles to the next town. It was a cold rainy night and he fell asleep on the way wearing only a t-shirt and jeans. He was found beside the tracks the next morning in a coma and died on February 4, 1968. He never published a book during his life, but his unfinished autobiography was published as The First Third and Other Writings after his death.
Carolyn Cassady was born in East Lansing, Michigan on April 23, 1923. After attending Bennington College in Vermont, she was studying painting and theater design in a graduate program at the University of Denver when she met Neal Cassady in March 1947. She became pregnant, dropped out of the school, and became a member of the Beat Generation. She was as a character in Jack Kerouac's novel On the Road. She was the author of Heart Beat: My Life with Jack and Neal and Off the Road: My Years with Cassady, Kerouac and Ginsberg. Heart Beat was made into a 1980 film starring Sissy Spacek. She also worked as the artistic director of the drama department at the University of Santa Clara and as a portrait painter. She lapsed into a coma after an emergency appendectomy and died on September 20, 2013 at the age of 90.