American Masters: Season 12, Episode 1

The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg (17 Sep. 1997)

TV Episode  |   |  Documentary, Biography, History
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 210 users   Metascore: 59/100
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The life and work of Allen Ginsberg, the greatest of the Beat Generation poets is put in focus in this film


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Title: The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg (17 Sep 1997)

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Episode credited cast:
William F. Buckley ...
Abbie Hoffman ...
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Timothy Leary ...


This explores the life and work of the greatest poet of the Beat Generation. Along with the usual biographical details, we also get to experience the poet's readings of his work such as his masterwork, Howl. We also examine his work as a musician and a political activist who, amoung other causes, worked to end the Vietnam War. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis



Official Sites:




Release Date:

17 September 1997 (USA)  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$1,475 (USA) (20 August 2004)


$2,668 (USA) (20 August 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Letter to Allen
Written and Performed by Patti Smith
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User Reviews

...he will wear his hair long until everyone else does, then he will cut it short.
22 March 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

One of America's greatest poets, and a leader of the Beat Generation; this is the story of Allen Ginsberg, and his close friendships with William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac.

We see his search for love, and his coming out as gay, with support from those around him, who were mainly hetero, but supportive.

Ginsberg challenged the conformity of the 50s, which allowed the protests of the 60s to develop. He and his group joined with Timothy Leary and transformed him.

Ginsberg's role in the infamous protests at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago shows him as brave face of calm in a violent time.

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