A Film by Errol Morris (2020) - full transcript

The polarizing psychedelic drug advocate Timothy Leary.

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[theme music plays]

[Joanna Harcourt-Smith]
The sound I'm going to play now

is Timothy Leary's voice...

in 1974

when he was incarcerated
at Vacaville Prison.

He did a series of interviews

with one of the
psychologists at the prison.



[Joanna] I'm just going
to play the very first words

he gave this psychologist.

[Timothy Leary]






Dr. Timothy Leary,

once a clinical psychologist
and Harvard professor,

now, by his own description,

a visionary prophet.

Others have called him
the man most responsible

for the North American crisis
over LSD.

We're teaching people
how to use their head.

The, uh, point is...

that in order to use your head,

you have to go out of your mind.

He... was

put in prison

as an ideological trafficker

that had to be stopped.

After he escaped from prison

and spent three years in Europe,

we were both trapped
and captured in Afghanistan.

My biggest question:

Was I being manipulated?

And if I was manipulated,

how far back did it go?

Whatever forces

had been following Timothy

since way back.

All of the counterculture said

that I was
a CIA sex provocateur,

a Mata Hari,

that I had been sent

to lead Timothy to Afghanistan

and get him arrested.

[Allen Ginsberg] Twenty.

Is Joanna Harcourt-Smith,

his one contact/spokesagent,

a sex spy?

An agent provocateuse,

a double agent,

a CIA hysteric,

a jealous tigress, or what?

[woman] All of the above.

[Errol Morris]
So you're a CIA plant?

I still wonder to this day.

It's in watching Wormwood...

where I said to myself,

"Maybe I was a CIA plant."

And maybe I'd been manipulated

to... lead Timothy Leary

back into being captured.

[man] Uh, this is
Joanna Harcourt.

First I'd like to show you
these two papers

that, uh,
Timothy Leary gave me

two minutes before
we got off the plane

in Los Angeles
yesterday evening.

I'll read them to you.

"January 18th, 1973,

To Joanna Harcourt-Smith,

I lovingly give all the rights

to transmit the story
of our perfect love in Spain,

Switzerland, Austria, USA,

Lebanon, Afghanistan, Germany,
et cetera. Timothy Leary."

If you'd like to see them.

[Joanna] I loved him.

I had known him for six weeks.

We had traveled like

shooting stars across Europe,

taking acid every day...

plunging into the maddest,

romantic relationship
you could ever imagine.

I knew nothing about him.

I had not read
any of his books.

I had heard
the Moody Blues song.

I remember exactly

where I heard that song.

Seven months pregnant

in a bathtub
in Trenton, New Jersey,

which for me was
like stranger than Peru,

with my tummy protruding
out of the water

and hearing...

Timothy Leary's dead

No, no, no, no

He's outside, looking in

["Legend of a Mind"
by the Moody Blues playing]

Timothy Leary's dead

[Joanna] And I got this
strange destiny feeling.

It's happened to me
many times in my life.

This is a turning point.

He'll fly his astral plane

Takes you trips
around the bay

Timothy Leary

Timothy Leary

[Joanna] LSD was calling me.


[Walter Cronkite]
The Supreme Court
today overturned

the narcotics conviction
of Dr. Timothy Leary,

and in the process dealt
a crippling blow

to federal marijuana laws.

[Leary] I don't think
that I'm ever going to spend

more than one day in jail--
that's my limit.

You see, it would be suicidal

for the United States
government to put me in jail.

Every time they arrest me,
they bring more interest

and sympathy
for what we're doing.

'Cause we're not criminals,
we're not dope addicts.

We're sincere people trying
to do our best for our society

and for our own souls.

I had a very painful childhood.

Much of it was about

being Jews in Europe.

My mother went through
two world wars.

She went through
two world wars as a Jew.

She carried the trauma

of having escaped Poland.

She carried the trauma
of 77 of her relatives

being killed.

Except for sometimes
being funny...

my mother was...


she treated me like

she was Hitler

and I was the Jew.

That didn't make
for a very happy childhood.

I think I was about 11 when
I found out we were Jewish.

And so, I immediately ran
to my mother

and I said to her,

"This is wonderful,
we're Jewish!

We're the most intelligent
people in the world!"

And she slapped me
across the face.

She said, "Never,
never, never say that."

Being a Catholic
was the salvation.

It would save her child,
her children,

and, uh, it would save her.

So back to LSD calling me.

There was something
that could provoke

an enormous change in me.

And perhaps I could find out

what it was to feel planted.

[rain falling]

Something is being born,

and I wanted to be part of it.


For those of you who, uh,

missed the last
thrilling installment

in this Keystone Kops drama,

yesterday afternoon
Rosemary and I came here

to talk to the press
about, uh, our views

and to, uh,
answer any questions.

And, as you probably know, uh,

I was arrested

and then immediately
released at the, um,

at the jail.

[Cronkite] Dr. Timothy Leary,
the former Harvard instructor

who became an exponent of LSD,

has been convicted of illegally
transporting marijuana

and faces a possible
20-year prison sentence.

[Joanna] At that time,
this character I had been

lovers with...

when I was 18 years old...

a man called Michel Hauchard...

came to visit me.

He was an arms dealer...

a James Bond villain.

Timothy called him Goldfinger.

Do you expect me
to talk?

No, Mr. Bond,
I expect you to die.

He was always trying
to get back with me.

He would say to me,
"I have a Rolls-Royce,"

and I'd say, "I don't care."

He'd say, "I have a villa
in the south of France."

I'd say, "I don't care."

We had dinner,

and at dinner he said to me,

"I own Timothy Leary."

So I said,
"What is Timothy Leary?"

"It's this man who's
very famous in America,

and he's escaped from prison."

That was so exciting for me!

I almost wanted to be
with an outlaw.

[Roger Mudd]
Dr. Timothy Leary,
formerly of Harvard,

now known as the High Priest
of the drug cult,

escaped during the night from
the California Men's Colony

at San Luis Obispo.

Dr. Leary was serving
a term of up to ten years

for possession of marijuana.

We want to tell the people
of the United States

the third world war has begun.

Join us in the fight for freedom

because we are everywhere,

and we're happy
and we're free.

And we want to make
the world free.

[Errol] And how did he
come to "own" Timothy Leary?

Well, this is it.

His friend recommended

that he be Timothy

and Rosemary's protector

in Switzerland.

Michel gave them
a beautiful house...

paid for a nice life.

But after a short while he said,

"If you write a book
about your escape,

I will sell it."

Michel said to Timothy,

"I would like you to

sign a contract where
you assign to me

all your literary rights

now and forever."

Timothy had nothing to lose.

He was an outlaw on the run.

He signed it.

And so that's
what Michel meant

when he sat next to me

in that restaurant

in Marbella and said,

"I own Timothy Leary."

[Errol] How rich is he?

Who? Michel Hauchard?

[Errol] Yes.

How can I tell?

You can never tell how rich,
rich people are.

[news anchor] Switzerland today
refused a United States request

for the extradition of
LSD advocate Timothy Leary.

Leary called it
a victory of love.

[interviewer] Dr. Leary,

you are in exile
from your own country.

-You're a fugitive
from justice.

How do you feel about that,

not being able to go home?

Well, it's ironic, um,

my joy today... [laughs]

comes because, uh,

I'm not going to go back
to the United States.

I'm going to decline
the invitation of, uh,

Governor Reagan
and President Nixon to, uh,

come back to their prison.

I started thinking
about this Timothy Leary.

I just had this destiny thing.

I always feel when
there's going to be
a turn in my destiny.

It's happened to me
again and again and again.

I was living in
the south of Spain

in this place called Marbella.

It was very groovy.

I took off with a man

in a VW bus.

He spent a lot of time
with the Rolling Stones.

One of their songs is called

"Tommy the Tumbling Dice."

It's about my friend Tommy.

We went to see
Keith Richards

in Villars, in Switzerland.

Keith Richards had this lover,

Anita Pallenberg,

who was quite a sizzling number,

I would say. [laughs]

She almost singlehandedly

invented the Rolling Stones.

She said, "There's
this man, Timothy Leary,

and his wife is gone,

and you have to meet him."

At that time I was very busy.

What Tommy and I were doing is

we were trying
to convince Keith,

"Go to America

and do a series

of concerts

to promote McGovern.

We didn't want Nixon
to win the election.

And Keith said...


[Joanna] Tommy and I flew
to Washington, D.C.

We went to the McGovern

headquarters and we told them,

"Hey, the Rolling Stones
are willing to do

three weeks or a month
of concerts for you."

And there was such
a sense of defeatism.

They were so down,

they felt so bad
that they couldn't accept.


next adventure?


We went to New York.

We were staying
with this friend of mine,

Diane von Furstenberg.

Those are the kind of people
I grew up with.

-The phone rang.
-[phone rings]

She handed me the phone,

and I was just lying there

on her mink blanket.

It was Michel.
Michel knew Diane.

I made an appointment to go
and have drinks with him

at the St. Regis.

He pulled out a check

for $250,000.

That's a lot of money.

He says, "That's what
Bantam Books gave me

for the manuscript
that Timothy has just written

about his escape

and his life on the run,"

the book that became
Confessions of a Hope Fiend.

He was emulating
Aleister Crowley.

Well, I thought,
"Oh, my goodness,

this guy's
really interesting."






[music plays]

Tommy and I flew to Geneva,

went into Lausanne,

-went up to Michel's house.
-[doorbell rings]

The Moroccan butler
opened the door.

We gave him a good English
hashish spliff.

I went into Michel's office

and I opened his address book,

and I found
about five phone numbers

for Timothy.

[Errol] Isn't Tommy jealous
of your interest in Leary?

Well, he thought
he'd be included.

I mean, he didn't think that

Timothy and I were going
to be each other's destiny.

Then I went to

the Palace Hotel in Lausanne.

I didn't have any money.

I never have any money,
but things happen.

And they knew me because
I learned to walk there.

We got this beautiful suite.

I started calling Timothy.

[phone rings]

[Timothy] Hello?

[Joanna] I told him I saw
Michel Hauchard in New York

and he has a big check of yours.

He invited us to come to Lucerne

and meet him.

We got a bunch of balloons

which we put in
the back of the car

and we drove to Lucerne.

Multicolored balloons?

[Joanna] Multicolored balloons,
of course.

I think I must have looked
at him from the feet to the top.

And I swear it looked like

he was dancing,

not walking.

I immediately thought,
"Oh, my goodness,

this man is
incredibly attractive.

He invited us to go
to his chalet.

He said,
"Will you come with me?"

He had this
canary yellow Porsche.

I thought, "Well, this is
getting better and better.

[laughs] This man is hip!"

Maybe hip enough for me.

And we went to his chalet.

And he had three
or four people there.

He said,

"Does anybody want to take LSD?"

I had two Clear Light acid...

and I said, "Well, yes,

but I just have enough
for you and me."

He said to me,

"You've come to free me."

I thought,


I was a little intimidated,
but not too much.

And we went to this restaurant.

I was still tripping.

Everything was
going whoosh, whoosh.

For the people who know, uh,

there can be great liquidity

when you've taken acid.

He ordered eggs and bacon.

To me, the eggs were like eyes,

but he was very comfortable

with having a good breakfast.

He brought his
tarot cards with him.

He explained to me that he was

a reincarnation

of Aleister Crowley...

and that this was
Crowley's deck.

And the first card was
the Wheel of Fortune,

and he said to me,
"That's what you are to me.

Watch the wheel turn

and destiny turn.

It's going to have an enormous
influence on my life."

And then he pulled
the second card

and it was Prudence.

And I thought,

"No, no,
I'll pass on that."

And then,

he pulled out...

the Tower,

which is an absolute explosion.

It is a card designed

to tell you

that many times in life

when something major passes,

it feels like
everything you knew

is being destroyed

to be renewed.

That's what
the Tower represents.

Absolute chaos...

and transformation.

And at that moment
he said to me,

"You've come to free me,

and I'm returning to America."

I didn't really understand
what he meant...

but I knew we were bonded.

Truly bonded.

[Errol] Is there where
Dennis Martino enters?

[Joanna] Dennis Martino
was at the chalet.

The sorcerer's apprentice.

A dope dealer with
the Brotherhood of Eternal Love.

A group of

Laguna Beach surfers...

who dealt hashish

between Afghanistan

and the United States.

Dennis knew Timothy

because Dennis's twin brother

made a baby

with Timothy's daughter.

Is there any suggestion--

I know that this became
an issue later--

maybe I'm jumping ahead--

that Dennis might be
working against Timothy?

If you want, Errol,

we can, uh,
at some point get into

"strange stuff."

One of the reasons I...

came to get you

was because of
these strangenesses.

People are here,
then they show up here.

You asked earlier,
Why would you be manipulated?

Well, because I
think this is a huge part

of the manipulation

by government that has led us

to where we are today...

the Timothy Leary story.

[news anchor] President Nixon
asked Congress today

for new laws to deal
with drugs and narcotics.

The new laws
the President wants

would replace parts of
the Marijuana Act

struck down by
the Supreme Court last year.

Other legislation
would give a task force

of federal agents
broad new powers to break in

and make arrests
without warning.

[Nixon aide]

[Nixon aide]

[Nixon aide]



After breakfast,

we go back to his house.

Tommy explains to him

that the way we're going
to get him out of Switzerland,

we're going to buy a sailboat

in Amsterdam.

We're going to make
that sailboat

a radio station.

We're going to
start broadcasting

revolutionary messages,

peace and love messages.

We're going to sail
over to Jamaica

where the Rolling Stones are
recording their latest album.

We left Timothy and went
back to the Palace Hotel.

They said that
if I didn't pay the bill,

I was going to be arrested
in the morning.

I thought,
"That's amazing! [laughs]

I'm going to experience
what Timothy experienced."

The Swiss prisons
were very civilized.

I asked them to bring me
some magazines.

I asked them to bring me
some café au lait.

They were very obliging.

It was sort of easy
for me to say,

"Come on, release me,
somebody's going
to pay this bill.

Goldfinger paid the bill.

In gold bullion.

[Joanna] Went back
to where Timothy lived...

ran into his arms saying,

"I just went to prison!"


I was so naive,
it was incredible.

We decided that we would give

Tommy a thousand dollars

to go look for a boat.

[Errol] A thousand dollars
to get rid of him?

Yeah, right. [laughs]

When did you first realize

that you could control men?


The first time a man

kissed my neck
when I was maybe...

eleven, 12 years old.

I had this surge of power.

There's definitely something

I can control in this life.

Leary was emanating.

Sexy. Power. Charm.

We went off on the road
in the yellow Porsche,

in the sparkling night

with beautiful
Swiss snow falling

and LSD.

I was with him
in this bubble,

in this amazing
yellow spaceship.

I was beginning to feel

some sense that I had arrived.

I was a bit surprised because
we'd been together for a week...

and we didn't have sex.

In those days, I felt that

if I was with a man
and I didn't have sex with him

pretty quickly,

we weren't really bonded.

But we got to
the Palace Hotel...

and we went to our room,

and then he said to me,

"Sit on the bed."

He had... necklaces

and bracelets

and sort of Indian jewelry.

I instinctively got naked.

He started putting the jewelry

all over me.

He told me that I was
the Goddess Lakshmi.

Then he took out
a Life magazine.

In that issue
of Life magazine

were the first images

of inside the brain.

And he said to me,

"That's where I'm going to be

making love to you."

And indeed,

it was quite a loving...






[Joanna] So, anyway,

we left Gstaad,
and we were going to go to

St. Moritz where I was born.

My mother was there

in January 1946,

mainly to play bridge.

Suddenly she started
having pains.

the village doctor told her

she had appendicitis

and gave her
lots of painkillers

and, as she said,

"After about 40 hours
of bothering me,

you came out."

And I weighed a kilo 50.

Not much bigger
than a Nathan's hotdog.

So he took me
to the very beginning.

During all this time,


you have to remember
he's a psychologist.

He made me tell
my whole story.

I don't have much of a memory

till I'm about

four years old.

We lived in the most
beautiful part of Paris

called the Avenue Foch.

Apparently I lied all the time.

My nanny was very Catholic.

Nanny decided with Mommy that

I should swear
before the Cross

that I was never going
to lie again.

Well, wow! [laughs]

I was wrong.

I betrayed Jesus.

Every summer,

I would be taken to stay

at this villa

in the south of France,

the Villa Leonina.

My step-grandfather,

Arpád Plesch,

was what they called
an international financier.

He had this huge,

white villa

overlooking the Mediterranean.

He had 70 servants,

twelve of which were gardeners.

He had a head gardener.

And it was a garden with plants
from all over the world.

And my grandfather flew in

the most extraordinary birds.

It was called the Exotic Garden.

I used to take
my little friend, Rhoda,

to go and play
with the head gardener.

One day my grandfather

took me aside and he said,

"Rhoda told her nanny

that the head gardener
touched her."

He said to me,

"But all little girls
are Messalinas,

and they try to seduce."

That afternoon,

I was taken to the gendarmes.

Two gendarmes there

kept asking me

if the head gardener
had touched my pee-pee.

I said, "No. No."

It lasted for what was

a very long time for me.

In the end,

I told them that he did.

But I know that I didn't know,

I just wanted to please them.

So they brought him in,
in handcuffs,

for what the French call
"The Confrontation."

They said repeat that
in front of him.

I said, "He touched me."

And they took him to prison.

My mother had

this very handsome chauffeur.

I don't think the chauffeur

was automatically the lover.

I think my mother preferred

ambassadors and commodores

and commanders.


She bragged she made
love with Mussolini.

She had hired
this Spanish chauffeur.

His name was Jesus.

She would have none of that.

She named him Ivan.

She wasn't going
to go around calling Jesus.

In those days, in Paris,

it was very fashionable
to have cocktail parties.

Six o'clock,
my mother was gone.

She had decorated my bedroom
like it was a farm.

My bed was a wheelbarrow.

My cupboard was a barn.

One night,

when Mummy had gone
out to a cocktail party,

the servants were up
in their rooms.

Ivan came to my room.

He started putting his hands

under my pajama,

under the top,

under the bottom.

I tried to concentrate
on the pigeons...

on the window.

They were a lot of pigeons
that would come

to the window.

I had the feeling

there was something that was...


extremely wrong.

And at the same time,

I-I felt a sensation

that was not altogether...


And I want to say this.

The fact that there was
a slight sensation of...

of being seen,

of being wanted...


it created

enormous confusion... for me.

The guilt.

Did you tell your mother?

Oh, yeah.

She said, um...

"Good chauffeurs
are hard to find."

Well, first she said
I was lying.

And then she said...

"Good chauffeurs
are hard to find."

You have to know something
because we're talking about

what motivated me
to look for Timothy Leary.

I feel all of this
is part of it.

He was one of
the foremost psychologists

of our time.

He sensed that

could be medicines...

that they could cure trauma

and PTSD.

This trajectory
of my childhood,

it led me to find him.







So then we went off
to visit a friend of mine

who had a beautiful chalet.

You know the Opel cars?

She was the von Opel heir.

She gave a party.

Andy Warhol and his
whole crew showed up.

And Timothy said,

"You and I are
the two most intelligent
men in America."

He turned to me and he said,

"And she is the most intelligent

woman in the world."

Andy brought with him
a whole pile

of 45 rpm records

from the '50s.

["I Will Follow You"
by Rick Nelson plays]

[Joanna] And he insisted
that we dance.

I love you,
I love you, I love you

And where you go
I'll follow, I'll follow,
I'll follow

You'll always be
my true love, my true love,
my true love

From now until forever,
forever, forever

I will follow you

The next day he told me,

"We're going
to drive off to Vienna,

and I'm going to do a film

that will say that
I'm completely against drugs."

He felt that the man
who was the prime minister

of Austria was going
to give him asylum.

His asylum in Switzerland
was not safe anymore.

At what point did he become

the most dangerous man
in America?

I think that was
one of Nixon's slogans.

America's public enemy
number one in the United States

is drug abuse.

In order to fight
and defeat this enemy,

it is necessary to wage a new,

all-out offensive.

[Joanna] It gets tense
when you're a major outlaw.

We got to Vienna,
and what they wanted was

for him to say
that drugs were great.

He wasn't very pleased
to be doing that.

Also, I have to tell you,

that at that time

I became completely orange,

like a sunflower.

He suggested we go
to the university hospital,

and there were
maybe 200 students there.

I threw off my coat and I
lifted my sleeves and I said,

"Doctor, you have something
more important to do.

You have a patient here
who has a terrible illness."

[Errol] In the book,
you said you were naked!

Well... maybe I was.


[Errol] And how did
the students react?

Oh, there was a roar.
Everybody adored it.

I don't know,
if Timothy wasn't in love
with me until that moment,

it totally busted
his heart open.

Timothy's daughter

had come back from India.

She had brought water
from the Ganges.

I thought it would be
very gracious on my part

to drink that bottle of water.


"This is going to be
your stepdaughter,

and she's the same age you are,

and she hands you a bottle
of water from the Ganges.

So I drank it up.

I always thought that
it was probably that water

that gave me the...


In the middle of all that,
Dennis showed up

and started saying...

that we should go
to Afghanistan.

Timothy started explaining,

"I know some people there

who would give us
a lot of money,

and then you and I
will go on to Ceylon,

and we'll be poets on the beach

and have babies."

I thought that was the most
marvelous, magical plan

you could imagine.

Then we found out that Dennis

had driven the Porsche

and totaled it.

There was no way out

but forward and up and in.

We've left Vienna.

We've left what I know.

But we're going
to make a stopover

in Beirut.

I'm really glad
we're going to Beirut

because I know the president

'cause the president
was in love with my mother.

I knew we would be
received very well.

Also, I was a star

on Lebanese TV

when I was between
the age of 14 and 15.

I was watching
television in Beirut,

and I saw
they had a quiz show.

I applied for the quiz show
and I was taken.

-[Errol] To be a contestant.
-To be a contestant.

And I loved it.

You had to figure out
who was lying.

The man who was
in charge of programs

came up to me and he said,

"You're really good
on television."

Then I said to him,

"Okay, well, why don't
you produce a show with me?

Let's have a show called
Teenagers Club."

[Errol] From the book,
you tell a story

that almost all of
the producers were
in love with you.

Well, they were.

When I was 15,

that's when I started
having a lot of sex.

Can't say I regret it.


We stopped in Beirut.

Something very extraordinary
happened there.

You have to remember,

I didn't know Timothy
for a long time.

And I really didn't understand

the significance of
his life work until then.

And we're at the son
of the president's house.

He saw all these books
by Jung,

and he turned to me
and he said,

"They're not going
to understand my work

until after I'm dead."













He was telling me
he was a fugitive,
so I said to him,

"Well, I have
a really good idea.

I think you should dye
your hair."


I mean, I didn't know
I was up against the whole
United States government.

I chose a rock 'n' roll look,

purple trousers
and a silver shirt.

I got some black dye.

So I started putting
the black dye on his hair,

but then we made love

and we forgot about
the black dye.

And his hair turned out to be

absolute purple.

Here was my rock 'n' roll
star professor.

[Errol] Here's a question:

why does he have to travel
in some kind of disguise?

He knows that

any place he stops,

he might be arrested.

The indictment

had just come out.

They charged him with everything

that the Brotherhood
of Eternal Love did.

[Richard Nixon] I am glad
that in this administration

we have increased
the amount of money

for handling the problem
of dangerous drugs sevenfold.

It will be $600 million
this year.

This is one area where
we cannot have budget cuts.

We must wage
what I have called total war

against public enemy number one
in the United States,

the problem of dangerous drugs.

[Joanna] Here we are,

Timothy, Dennis and me,

finally on the plane from Beirut

to Kabul.

We walk into the terminal.

This man snaps both passports

out of Timothy's hands.

He throws a card at us,

and he starts
running out of the airport.

"James Senner,

second attaché at the Embassy
of the United States."

It was utter shock.

We go up to
the immigration people--

"You can't come into
this country because you
don't have any passports."

I'm having a fear

like I've never had before.

Never had after.

I put on the persona

who threw her coat off

in front of
the professor in Vienna--

"If you separate me
from Timothy Leary, I will die."

I fainted on the floor

to show him
that I meant business.

He said, "We're not going
to separate you."

Then we were taken
to the Plaza Hotel...

where they put foreigners

in the rooms

as prisoners.

First time I asked
to go to the toilet,

they let Timothy come
to the toilet with me.

He got down on his knees.

I don't know why it still
just makes me cry today.

It was such an act of
tenderness in that moment

that was
frenetically terrifying,

with Timothy getting
down on his knees,

carefully, minutiously

cleaning the toilet.

I felt protected

in this moment of horror.

These two Afghani
secret service

came into the room

and they started
interrogating Timothy,

asking him who he was.

Timothy said,

"I am not going back to the
United States without Joanna."

And after about four days,

they told us that we were
being taken to the airport.

We got into this Jeep

with the soldiers all around
with their machine guns,

and we got to the airport.

An Indian doctor came up to me,

presented me
with a paper that said,

"If something happens to you,

you will not hold the
Afghani government responsible."

I signed that paper, yeah.

There was a plane
of Ariana Airlines.

We started going up the steps.

And this man with a beard said,

"Agent Terrence Burke,

dope's the game.

I've come to bring you
back to the United States."

And he handed Timothy
an ID card.

Profession: Philosopher.

They put us in first class.

Two agents in
the seats behind us,

two agents in
the seat opposite us.

I was so scared.

The plane was going
to do two stops--

Tehran, Paris.

I obviously had
paper to write with

and I had a pen.

And I wrote,
"This is Dr. Timothy Leary.

We are being kidnapped.

Please give this
to the first authority

that you see in
the airport in Paris."

And I start dropping these
little papers on people's laps.

About 15 minutes later,

a voice came on and they said,

"This plane is no longer
going to Paris.

It's been diverted
to Germany."

I'm in the hands of people
who can just deviate a plane.

They took us
into an empty waiting room.

And the next day,

they pushed us
onto a plane to L.A.

In first class.

Well, on that flight to L.A.

was this friend of my family,

friend of my sister,

this fabulous playboy
who had actually been married

to Brigitte Bardot.

[singing "L'appareil à sous"
in French]

And we drank champagne.

And we talked. And we played.

Timothy made a pact with them,

that they would take care of me.

I didn't really know
what was going to happen.

And shortly before we landed,

he handed me his address book.

He wrote a paper saying:

"The right to speak for me

I hereby lovingly give
to Joanna Harcourt-Smith,

who is my love, my voice,

my wisdom, my words,

my output to the world

for our love,
et cetera, et cetera.

Timothy Leary,
over Montana, USA.

January 18th, 1973."

[Joanna] The day
we were brought back was

the week the Plumbers

got sentenced.

It was the week of Nixon's
second inauguration.

That was absolutely...


The law and order President.

They had been
tracking us all along.

I mean, there's absolutely
no doubt about it.

You see, this is why I think

the CIA had a lot
to do with this story.

I saw the order

from Ehrlichman that said,

"Capture Dr. Timothy Leary

and return him by any means."

He's the best man
in the world.

He's beautiful.
He's a philosopher.

He's got all the answers.
He's happy.

He's happy, you understand?
He's come back--

He's come back because
he has got things to say

because he's a beautiful man

and because he's going
to save the world

and because he's full of love,
and our love is perfect.

Our love is
the most beautiful love
that's ever existed.

I met him two months ago
in Switzerland,

and I haven't left him
a second ever since.

And I know nothing of his past--

I only know that I've lived
with him day and night,

and that he's a perfect man.

[interviewer] Were you with him
when he was arrested?

-A perfect love.
-[interviewer] Were you
with him when he was arrested?

Yes, sir. I was with him.

It was totally illegal.

One of the reasons
I contacted you

is I think there's
still a mystery here.

Same as in Wormwood.

How we were manipulated.

How I was used

to lead Timothy Leary

back into custody.

And the fact that

I don't know these things.

I was told by Dennis
that Timothy met

with this particular CIA agent

from time to time
in Switzerland.

I don't know what that means.

I'm intrigued by it,

still, 40 years later.

I'm not a conspiracy person,

but it does involve my own life.

There's another veil
that has not been uncovered

about what was going on there.

[Errol] If you could
lift that veil, what
do you think you'd see?

The Timothy Leary story

is a very big political story.

A lot of people
have been manipulated

to manipulate history.

And the more
I understand this story,

the more I understand

that it's part of a puzzle

that's being played out.

The grandiosity of the people

I grew up around

was limitless.

Using people as pawns

was definitely their game.

My step-grandfather
Arpád Plesch

was a very,
very nasty character.

He took money
from the Jewish people

that he knew in Germany,

and he hid the money in
Swiss numbered accounts,

and then he denounced

those people

to the Hitler people.

He was not a Jew, however?

Oh, he was a Jew.
Oh, yes, he was a Jew.

I've seen the absolute depravity

of the people who have
the most money in this world.

And I've seen

how there are
no morals whatsoever.


Money and power,

and that's it.

Arpád Plesch was married
to both my mother

and my grandmother.

When my grandmother died,

I was taken into the garden

to see Grandpa marrying Mummy.

And that was all about money...

and incest.

[Errol] Forgive me,
but how was it that
your grandmother died?

When my grandmother
was dying,

he went to get a knife

and he plunged into her heart.

I guess my step-grandfather,

considered that
it was an act of love,

that he would make sure

that his wife was dead.

[Errol] Your story
seems like a tragedy
out of ancient Greece.

Well, it's true, my story.

It's true.
It's very strange.

It's absolutely true.





[Psychologist laughs]



[Joanna] When we got brought
back to the United States,

I had no idea
who Timothy Leary was.

Guru, folk hero,

and political resistor.

Ten days after we got back,

I heard that
Dennis had been captured.

I went to see him
at the county jail

because he was a link

with that incredible
time in Europe.

Dennis said, "I'll be
getting out in a few days.

I'll meet up with you.

I'll instruct you
about the whole story--

who are the villains,
who are the good people."

All that was a setup.

Timothy had given me
his address book

with every name
you could imagine

and said, "Talk to
these people and free me."

It was an amazing puzzle.

This is Folsom prison.

It holds at
the present time 1,800 men.

One of them is Timothy Leary.

He was brought here
after four months
in solitary confinement

at California Men's Colony
in San Luis Obispo.

I am Joanna Leary,
and I'd like to see him

out of here
as quick as possible.

I wrote him every day,

and he wrote me every day.

I coated stamps in acid.

He knew

what was on the stamp.

And then I put these tiny,
little acid

in my belly button.

You see, I have an innie,

and I never knew how
useful it would become.

We were allowed to embrace

in the beginning
and at the end of the visit.

And I had taken mine

about ten minutes before.

When we were kissing,

I put my hand
up towards his mouth

and then I put it in.

We were both... tripping

at Folsom prison.

It was orgasmic.

My mother
came to Folsom prison

in her Chanel coat.

She's got her Nancy Reagan
super-coiffed hair.

She's got her high heels.


And her very red nails.

She was fine.

I mean, they frisked her.

They took her ID.

And we went down
to the visiting room.

They greeted each other
like they were

the oldest of friends.

Timothy got down on his knees

in Folsom Prison,

and he asked my mother
for my hand.

She told him how crazy
she thought I was.

I thought that
there's my mother,

jealous of my lovers again.

Timothy looked
quite like my father,

Lieutenant Commander
Cecil Harcourt-Smith.

My mother was just

gaga about him.

[Errol] Were you
jealous of your mother?

At that moment,
was I jealous of my mother?


I probably was, terribly!

[Errol] I was going to ask you
the generic question,

What did you learn about sex
from your mother?

She said that
I had to be very careful

because when you have sex,

you could get syphilis.

Oh, she didn't tell me
I could get pregnant!

[Errol] I take it
you didn't get syphilis,

but you did get pregnant.


A lot.


I had to go to her and say,

"I don't understand.

My tummy's getting bigger.

I'm feeling sick.

I don't know what's happening."

She took me to a doctor
and they took blood,

and it turned out
I was pregnant.

I was 15. There was
absolutely no question

that I was going
to have that child,

I mean, none whatsoever.

And then they took me in,
and they took my baby.

I think I was never
the same again.

So after that...

I was in full seduction mode.

I had to have eight men
at a time to be content.

Now, I wasn't having sex
with eight men,

but I had to have eight
major admirers.

At night in my bed,
I would count them.

Made me feel warm,
made me feel safe.

Made me feel wanted.

[Helen Koblin]
This is Helen Koblin,

and with me is
Joanna Harcourt-Smith,

Timothy Leary's woman.
She's trying to help Timothy.

[young Joanna]
He's sitting in the
solitary confinement cell

just sending out
energy and love

to whoever wants
to receive it.

[female psychologist]

[male psychologist]


[female psychologist]


[male psychologist]


[male psychologist]

-[male psychologist]


[Joanna] I had a studio

under Coit Tower

in San Francisco.

Francis Ford Coppola

gave me an office

above the Little Fox Theater,

the Starseed Information Center.

We'd hatch these crazy projects

to get Timothy out of prison.

We'll get a helicopter.

I will be naked

with black gloves.

We'll have this huge

speakers blasting out

The Dark Side of the Moon.

It would make the guards

completely numb.

And so we'd pick Timothy
out of the yard,

take him into the helicopter.

We'd go to the mountains nearby.

There would be a whole militia

that would surround us.

Also, the Starseed
Information Center

is from where I published

five of Timothy's books.

We felt that as long
as he could write books,

his mind would
not be imprisoned.

He would send them to me
in letter form.

"My darling wife,

I miss you more
than life itself.

The seven circuits
of the human brain are,

one, blah, blah, blah. Two."

When I was broke,

I would stand on
Telegraph Avenue

and I'd sell my books.

["Morning Has Broken"
by Cat Stevens playing]

Morning has broken

Like the first morning...

[Joanna] One day somebody
introduced me to this man

we called Franklin,

because he always had a lot
of hundred-dollar bills.

He made this acid that
in those days was called

Clear Light.

He would give me these vials,

and I'd go around town,

and I'd give acid to everybody.

Like, I'd go to the bank,

and I would give them some acid.

And I kid you not,

they were not at the bank
the following week.

One day, Franklin asked me if
I'd take an acid trip with him.

And then he took me out to this

house on the beach.

All that was
in the living room

was a king-sized bed...

with a huge American flag on it.

When the time came
to take the acid...

I put it on my tongue.

He did the same thing,
put it on my tongue.

He licked my tongue,

I licked his tongue.

I lay down on
that American flag.

I was very, very,
very freaked out.

Franklin was meditating.

He wasn't really
into having sex,

which surprised me a lot.

But then I went out
on the beach.

There was this bell...

[bell ringing]

...going back and forth,

and a voice came on.

It was the voice of my mother.

She was telling me something
that was really important.

She was saying,

"You're playing, you're acting,
you're exaggerating."

In that moment
I realized she was right,

that I was playing a role

'cause I was afraid.

After the trip,

I said to Franklin,

"Is there anything
that you need?"

"Well, I really need
seven pounds

of ergotamine

for my next LSD batch."

My diabolical mind went
into action immediately--

"Dr. Schwitzhund

definitely has ergotamine."

How did you know this?

Well, I didn't know this.
I was lying.

I was lying!

He said, "Well,
how much would it cost?"

"$10,000 a pound."

He said,
"Fine, get it for me."

the sorcerer's apprentice,

told me that
the dope dealer trick is

to get two adjoining rooms,

and then you get a room
three floors up.

You give them the key,

and then you tell them
to go upstairs

and get the merchandise.

They'll come back to the room,

but you're already
in the adjoining room.

I loved Franklin,

but I desperately needed
the money to free Timothy.

I got a beautiful
little Halliburton suitcase.

Timothy had given me
this exquisite

gold tantric ring.

I put all those things
in the suitcase.

One fine day,

I made an appointment with him
at this hotel on the wharf.

In the elevator I said to him,

"Shall we just go
to that room and make love?"

[Errol] Was this
just to trick him or--

No! It was the opposite
of tricking him.

If we'd made love, I probably
wouldn't have tricked him.

[Errol] And who was waiting
in the room next door?


Machiavellian Dennis.

[Errol] And you would
have made love to Franklin
with Dennis listening?

Franklin was more important
to me than Dennis.

So we went to the room,

and he gave me
this little accordion folder

with $10,000

in each space.

And then after a while,

my lookout told me

that he had left the building.

It was late at night by then.

And I had somebody drive me

to Mill Valley

to this lawyer,

and I knocked like crazy.

When he opened up,
he was in his robe and...

I sat at the kitchen table
with him.

And I threw the money
on the table.

"Can you get him out now?"

And he said to me, "No,

it's not a question of money.

He's a political prisoner."

[Leary] Most of the men
that I model myself after

have been lucky
if they got away with, uh,

just being in prison

for their ideas.





[Errol] Dennis is
insinuating himself more

and more
into all of this, no?

I have pain about it, but...

may that be present
with us as well.

I was taking a lot of cocaine.

Dennis was providing it.

I was smoking
a lot of cannabis.

I was drinking
a lot of alcohol.

On some days I would just

lie in my--
in my studio,

watch the Watergate hearings,

and hope that
something might change.

But as the case progressed,
it became obvious

that there were higher-ups,

men who ordered
the bugging operations

and who paid for it.

And now it takes a scorecard

to keep track
of those connected with it

in one way or another.

Timothy always said that

his imprisonment

would be harder for me
than for him.

Needless for me to say
to you that, um,

I was very sensual.

I was 27 years old.

I had shared with Timothy

that I was going to have sex.

It was the time of free love,

and he was the bishop
of free love.

I imagined myself
as Scheherazade.

I wouldn't tell him
who it was,

but I'd describe

how I'd made love
with another person.

One time it might be a woman,

one time it was a hermaphrodite.

Dennis was one of the people
I had sex with.

After a while,
he said to me that

he was working as an informant
for the government.

Timothy should get out that way

because he won't get out
any other way.

I passed on that information
to him a couple of times.

I had no idea
of the implications.

[Errol] Really?


You have to understand
how incredibly naive I was.

I always wondered why

one Thursday I went
to see him at Vacaville

and he said,

"Send a telegram to the FBI

and tell them
I'm ready to cooperate."

People have accused me

of being the one
who made him do it.

That's impossible.

That's the story
of The Blue Angel,

the sexy singer

who perverts the professor.


That's ridiculous!

I was like
Alice in Wonderland.

I didn't have
any point of reference.

I didn't realize

how alien I was.

To Allen Ginsberg,

I was not fit

to be the next acid queen.

By then I was living
in Mill Valley.

I sent this telegram

to the FBI:

"Timothy ready
to cooperate with government."

Couple of days after that,

FBI agents came from Chicago

because that's where they were
searching for the Weathermen.

[Errol] And they knew
that Timothy was connected
to the Weathermen.

[Joanna] They had helped him
escape from prison.

They brought me in.

He asked me if I'd be willing

to work for his release.

There was no limits
to my stand-by-your-man.

No limits.

By then we had been
talking of having a baby.

We had named the baby.

What was the name?

It was going to be a girl,

and her name was going
to be Chrysalis.

No abbreviation to Chrys.


You have to know that after

visiting your man in prison

and seeing how
all appeals were refused.

Lawyers didn't know
how to get him out.

I would do anything,
anything at all.

The DEA had me

completely at their mercy.

They used me as Mata Hari.

They used me to go after

the counterculture lawyers.

Call being made by SR14X037
to George Chula's office.


[George Chula]



So, I had dinner with him.

I asked him if the next time
we got together

he could bring me
a gram of cocaine.

And when we had dinner,
I was wired.

They put a box on my leg,

chose very sexy clothes for me,

and they recorded
the conversation.

I behaved very femme fatale,

extremely flirtatious,


and dangerous.

You can have me,
but you can't keep me.












[hangs up]

And it was kind of the same
thing as with Franklin.

They got two rooms
at the Disneyland Hotel.

In one room, they had
all their machines

and setups and all of that.

I was supposed to receive
Chula in the other room.

He said to me on the phone

he stopped somewhere,

and a lifeguard on the beach

said to him that
he had a walkie-talkie...

and there were federal agents,

and they were having
an incredible conversation

about how they
were going to bust him.

And this
lifeguard on the beach

had picked up the signal,

and they were overjubilant

that they were going to arrest
Timothy Leary's lawyer.

So in the end, he never came.

But on the night that
we were at the restaurant,

he had given me
a little cocaine,

and I turned that over
to the agents.

The main agent's name was

Donald E. Strange.

This is Dr. Timothy Leary.

How are you?

Hello, Don.

We're going to talk
a little bit about, uh,

Dr. Leary and the things
he's been doing, uh,

since 1960.

And just how he--

he came to the Drug
Enforcement Administration.

[Leary] Well, I had been away
from the United States

for about
two-and-a-half years.

And when the plane landed

on the Los Angeles runway,

the first person
I met was Don Strange,

who welcomed me
with handcuffs.

I felt basically relieved

uh, to be back.

I felt that the work
I had to do

and the process
of reconciliation

and of dialogue of
constructive activity

that had to be done

was going
to take place here.

[birds chirping]

[Joanna] They moved Timothy

to the rural prison

near Sacramento.

I wasn't allowed to go
out of my apartment,

except with a federal agent.

They said that
it was dangerous for me.

They decided they
should change my name.

So one day,

this big,
tall U.S. Marshal said,

"Now your name
from now on will be

Virginia Church."

What was Leary's name?

[Joanna] Charlie Thrush.

And they published in Newsweek

that Timothy
had became a snitch,

a government informant.

I thought--

I was trying to get
Timothy out of prison,

but they used me
to discredit him.

[man] This is a press
conference that I wish

was not taking place.

It is a symptom
of the credibility crisis

in America
symbolized by Watergate

and President Ford's
pardoning of Richard Nixon.

There's a straight line
between Watergate

and Timothy Leary.

The very same
Justice Department

has both forced and persuaded

Timothy Leary
to lie and fabricate

elaborate stories
to get out of jail.

Leary's new girlfriend,
Joanna Harcourt-Smith,

declared that Leary
would not remain in prison.

Harcourt-Smith said
that Leary was willing

to make a deal
with the government.

[Joanna] When Timothy
was in this rural prison,

they moved me from the apartment

into the home

of the U.S. Marshal--

Art Van Court
and his wife Marcia.

Although they're keeping me
in protective custody,

it felt kind of good
to have home-cooked meals

and be with a regular family.

One day, I went to see
Timothy at the small jail,

and as we were embracing,
he whispered,


Because what if
they read his lips?

I said to Dennis,

"Where can I find a gun?"

He took me to this garage...

just like in the movies.

Greasy man with his jumpsuit.

I thought I had
to play the game,

and I sat on his lap.

I gave him $100,

and he gave me a little gun.

I couldn't take it anymore--

the snitching

and the setting people up.

I was ready to kill everybody.

In the beginning,
when Timothy escaped,

the Weathermen took him
to a safe house

in Oregon.

The FBI wanted
Timothy to show them

where the safe house was.

And we had to drive
through San Francisco,

I don't know why.

And all of a sudden,

this huge .357 Magnum

comes floating under the seat,

right to Timothy's foot.

And I thought,
"This is meant to be."

Now we have two guns,

and we're going to be free.

And he was reading
the San Francisco Chronicle.

And he wrapped the gun up,

and he handed it
back over to the agent.

Somehow I realized that

this was just a dream,

a crazy, maniac,

insane dream.

So we proceeded
through the forests of Oregon.

We got out of the car

and Timothy said to me,

"Do you realize
that if we kill them,

we'll have to kill
everybody we meet

until they kill us."

And at that moment,
I lifted my head

and the FBI agent
was right in front of us.

And he said,

"Do you mind if I shoot you?"


[Errol] Did you ever find
the Weathermen house?

I don't remember.

At some point,

Dennis became so annoying

about the fact that
I should be only with him,

he wrote a letter

to the U.S. Marshal saying

that I'd been
having sex with him.

My love for Timothy
was untrue.

It was like
my world collapsed.

I went back to Marbella,

to my mother's house,

and one day Dennis
showed up at the door.

He asked my mother
if he could marry me.

My mother said,
"Who do you think you are?

The son of a hairdresser?

Never in the world!"

A couple of days later,

I was going to a fabulous party.

Adnan Khashoggi
gave me a couple of Quaaludes.

From then on,

I'm not quite sure
what I did. [laughs]

But the next morning,
I called my mother.

She said, "Dennis is dead."

I felt he was killed.

You know, don't ask me
for any proof.

I went to his room.

There were pills,

but they were half full.

And that really set off
a bug in my ear.

Then there was his diary.

The last words were,


["Just Like a Woman"
by Bob Dylan playing]

Please don't let on

That you knew me when

I was hungry

And it was your world

Ah, you fake

Just like a woman

Yes, you do

You make love

Just like a woman

Yes, you do

Then you ache
just like a woman

But you break just
like a little girl

[Joanna] One day,

after a little over
three and a half years,

he got out of prison.

Neurology lives!

How you feel, Tim?

-I feel beautiful.

I want to thank Joanna
and Mr. Milano

and all my friends
who helped me get out.

And to those who didn't help,

I want to be reassuring,

it's all going
to work out all right.

And in particular,

I want to send
a message of support

to Andrei Sakharov, who's doing
the same thing in Russia.

Have a good time!

- [clapping]
- Bless you, Tim.

I had reserved a room
at the Valencia Hotel

in La Jolla.

We went to the restaurant
in the hotel,

and I think he must
have ordered everything
that was on the menu.

He was a very elegant man,

but I'll tell you, that night,
he was eating like a pig.

It was a joy to see him
taste real life again.

We went to bed,

and in the morning,
there was a big...

-...loud knock on the door.

It was the U.S. Marshals again.

"We need to put you in
the Witness Protection Program

because otherwise

you're going to end up
on a slab."

They said to Timothy,
"We're going to relocate you
in Salt Lake City."

And he didn't miss a beat:

"Do you think you could change
that for Santa Fe?"

And they started making calls.

Santa Fe it was.

We were in an "A"-frame cabin
out in the wilderness.

No electricity, no gas.

That was very unfamiliar to me.

I mean, to this day
I've never camped.

I'm a Parisian.


All I knew was,
lie in the forest naked

and get brown under the sun.

I'm fond of saying that
I became a better Timothy Leary

than Timothy Leary himself.

I had traveled to colleges...

given lectures,

shown the Folsom film,

pleaded for his release.

I wonder if there was
room for two Timothy Learys.

One night,

we had a terrible fight.

And in the morning
he was gone.

To this day,
I don't understand it.

We never got back together.

I thought

he would protect me

for the rest of my life.

I thought I was safe.

And I don't know
why he went away.

Every year that goes by,

I love my mother more.

My mother smoked these
Winstons endlessly.

She had a big tumor

between her lungs.

It was inoperable.

I made her go
to Mercy Hospital.

And she said, "This is
a very, very bad hotel.

I want you to pack
the suitcases,

and we're leaving.

This is the worst hotel
I've been in.

And open everything."

I opened the windows,

I opened the door.

I was holding her hand.

And it was clear
to me the moment

she stopped breathing.

She took a breath,
but there was no exhale.

And then this one tear

came rolling down her cheek.

One question
I have to ask you

which I'm sure everyone
is asking you themselves,

and that is, Why?

Why are you doing this?

Why are you
working with DEA,

the government,
at this point?

I can understand
that there might be

some skepticism
that I'm simply here

talking to you because

I'm under prison sentence.

I want to reassure everyone
that I'm not brainwashed.

No promises
have been made to me

by any law enforcement agency.

The future is much
too important

to be ruled by the past.

The war is over,
and I'm glad,

and I'm ready for
a long period of, uh,

harmonious peace.

I have nothing else.

[agent] That was a--
that was a good ending.

Two years ago,

I received an email

from somebody who said,

"My mother died,

and I have a bunch of boxes

that belonged to you.

Would you like me
to send them to you?"

He wrote me these
divine letters in prison,

and I had lost them.

And I felt really,
really ashamed.

I was rather broke,

but not broken at the time.

And sure enough,
the 130 letters

that he had written
to me were there

in that yellow folder
I put them in.

And there were
four reel-to-reel tapes

that a psychologist in Vacaville

had brought these tapes to me

and said, "Timothy wants you
to have these and keep them."

And at the time I was so busy
with the real Timothy,

I didn't listen to the tapes.

So I spent all last winter

listening to ten hours.

He was very brilliant,
you see.

He actually got himself

moved to Vacaville.

He seduced

two psychologists there,
a man and a woman.

At a certain point...

he says,

"Well, what are they going
to do with me?"

Wesley Hiler says,

"We're going to drug
you more and more,

put you in a special section
in San Quentin...

where we keep people

who've lost their mind."

And I firmly believe
that the next Thursday,

he said, "Call the FBI,
tell them I'm ready."

What a life would it be for him
to live without his mind?

So after 40 years,

for me the mystery is solved.

My ego was pulverized

by this adventure.

I was insane, I knew it.

But I wasn't going to let
anybody lock me up.

And I was smart enough

to go down to the Caribbean,

buy a sailboat,

and sail for a long time.

The ocean rebuilt me.

There was something
bigger than me.

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