Author & Activist Paul Krassner Dies At Age 87

Paul Krassner, co-founder of the Yippies speaks for the Independent Lens segment during the PBS portion of the Television Critic
Frederick Brown / Getty Images

Paul Krassner, the author and political activist, who was the writer who coined the term “Yippies” has died at age 87.

The Hollywood Reporter shared that Krassner was a man on the frontline of the sixties, examining the trends, student revolts, and more of the time. His daughter revealed that Krassner died at his Desert Hot Springs home in California after a transition into hospice care.

Krassner in naming the Yippies (who included Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman and were otherwise known as the Youth International Party), became known for such stunts as running a pig for president. Hoffman and Rubin were among the Chicago 7, charged with inciting riots at 1968’s chaotic DNC.

Friends say that Krassner was constantly transitioning and never had one passion or one job. Another counter culture pioneer, Wavy Gravy, stated that Krassner never dawdled.

“He doesn’t waste time. People who waste time get buried in it. He keeps doing one thing after another,” Wavy Gravy said,

Krassner was an advocate of free speech and recreational drug use, and found himself in the company of Ken Kesey, Timothy Leary, and Alan Ginsburg. Of his time as a rebel, Krassner stated that it was in the struggle to legalize abortion he made the move to activism.

“That really was a turning point in my life because I had morphed from a satirist into an activist,” he said.

In his lifetime, Krassner was able to list at least a few of the jobs he held, including working as a comedian, freelance writer, satirist, publisher, celebrity interviewer, and occasional creator of soft-core pornography.

Krassner was ahead of his time when it came to branding and promotion of causes, including finding the best name for old friend Abbie Hoffman and company.

“I knew that we had to have a ‘who’ for the ‘who, what, where, when and why’ that would symbolize the radicalization of hippies for the media. So I started going through the alphabet: Bippie, Dippie, Ippie, Sippie. I was about to give up when I came to Yippie.”

During the time that Krassner worked as a comedian, he followed his mentor, Lenny Bruce, pushing the limits of free speech, and often getting arrested. From there, Krassner made the move to writing for underground satirical magazines, and never lost his taste for shock value and the use of language for shock value.

He is survived by his wife, Nancy Cain; brother, George; daughter, Holly Krassner Dawson; and one grandchild.