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.