He became focused on the Vietnam War in the late ‘60s, but was never afraid of a good stunt, such as when he rained fake and real dollar bills down on the New York Stock Exchange in 1968. Some investors booed, others began filling their pockets with the green on the floor. Additionally, he had the notoriety of being chased off stage at Woodstock by Pete Townshend after he interrupted The Who’s set to demand the release of John Sinclair, co-founder of the anti-racist White Panther Party. This occurred about one month before the trial started.
After the trial, he built his fame with Steal This Book in 1971, which encouraged readers to find ways to live for free without paying for possessions. However, Hoffman soon disappeared from public life, becoming a fugitive after he was charged with intent to sell and distribute cocaine in 1973 (he claimed it was entrapment). In 1974, he had plastic surgery and began living by the name Barry Freed, until he turned himself into authorities in 1980—the same day his interview with Barbara Walters aired. He’d go on to stage civil disobedience to protest the CIA and Iran-Contra affair in 1986, and write Steal This Urine Test to protest the War on Drugs in 1987. He even appeared in Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July.
But suffering from Bipolar disorder, and depressed both by his mother’s cancer diagnosis and at the lack of protest in youth culture of the ‘80s, he eventually died by suicide when he swallowed 150 phenobarbital tablets with liquor in 1989. He was 52, and the FBI had a file on him that was over 13,000 pages long.
Prior to the Trial of the Chicago Seven, Tom Hayden became a national figure on the left for authoring the first draft of the Students for a Democratic Society’s political manifesto, the Port Huron Statement. In it Hayden advocated for, among other things, a “New Left” that pursued participatory democracy in the spirit of nonviolent civil disobedience, allowing citizens to directly vote on social issues. He also toured North Vietnam in 1965, later co-writing The Other Side with Staughton Lynd. The pair also disavowed the anti-Communism of their parents’ generation.
After the trial, Hayden returned to tour the conditions of North Vietnam multiple times, as well as in Cambodia and Laos as the Richard Nixon administration began bombing those regions. While Hayden did not meet movie star and future second wife Jane Fonda during her own infamous trip to Hanoi in 1972, the pair shared a drive to be politically active and motivate social change, including urgently ending the Vietnam War. Hayden and Fonda married in 1973, and collaborated on the 1974 documentary Introduction to the Enemy. During this time, he also founded the Indochina Peace Campaign, which Fonda would name her production company, IPC Films, after.