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The Trial of the Chicago 7: What Happened to Abbie Hoffman and Co. Next?

A Hollywood romance, barbecue, and years spent underground—here’s where the Chicago Seven wound up after the events of Aaron Sorkin’s Netflix film.

As Eddie Redmayne defiantly reads the names of fallen American servicemen into the court record over harrumphing calls for “order!” the camera pulls back and the music swells. Aaron Sorkin found a great button—albeit a fictitious one—with which to end The Trial of the Chicago 7, his invigorating courtroom drama, which premiered on Netflix Friday.

It must have been tough to know exactly where to end the story. Most of the people involved in this case continued to live fascinating lives well after the judge’s hammer fell. And while Sorkin does wind down his film by deploying some “today we call them computers”-esque epilogue cards, they only scratch the surface of what happened next to the Chicago Seven, Bobby Seale, and the rest of this historical moment’s colorful characters. Here is some additional punctuation to these real-life stories—some exclamation points, others question marks.

Abbie Hoffman

When the 1960s ended, Abbie Hoffman (played in the film by Sacha Baron Cohen) was a star—possibly the star—of, as he put it in his testimony, the “Woodstock Nation.” (For the curious: here is a 20-minute art film of him making gefilte fish.) But Hoffman was unable to ride that wave of popularity for too much longer. In 1973, he was arrested on charges of selling cocaine, though he claimed to be the victim of entrapment. Hoffman skipped bail, got some cosmetic surgery, and lived underground away from his family along the St. Lawrence River under the name Barry Freed. At this point, his activism turned toward environmental issues.

Hoffman eventually turned himself in in 1980, served a year in jail and on work release, then got back together with his old chum Jerry Rubin—albeit in an unexpected way. (More on that in a bit.) He was arrested again in 1986 during a demonstration against the CIA on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Hoffman continued to write, and followed his blockbuster Steal This Book with Steal This Urine Test, which included a step-by-step guide for outmaneuvering a drug test.

He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1980, and as the radicalism of the 1960s diminished, he reportedly fell into depression. Hoffman would die of an overdose in April of 1989, an apparent suicide—and though fellow Chicago Seven defendant David Dellinger was suspicious of the ruling, the coroner’s report was conclusive. Jerry Rubin, at that point his rival, attended the funeral.

Jerry Rubin

Jerry Rubin’s story is perhaps even stranger than Hoffman’s. We learn in the end credits of Chicago 7 that Jeremy Strong’s character became a stockbroker, and was hit by a car and killed in 1994.

These are true facts, though they lack a little nuance. Rubin did, indeed, make a killing on Wall Street (he was an early investor in Apple Computer), but it wasn’t like he transformed from a freedom fighter into Gordon Gekko.

After the trial, Rubin continued his work as an anti-war leader, protesting the 1972 presidential conventions. As the petals of flower power began to wither and die, Rubin found himself, as many did, looking within, man, and getting involved in self-help groups. He maintained that his new age-y lifestyle (which, sure, may have meant simply eating granola and jogging) was for the purposes of an inner revolution that must take place before an outer one. 

Rubin wrote the book Growing (Up) at 37, and looked for investment opportunities for rich people with a conscience. He rode the tail end of the Carter–era solar power wave for a bit. He also organized entrepreneurial meetups outside of the typical yacht club setting; he favored places like Studio 54 and the Palladium, and he made an effort to include women and minorities.

Rubin’s old comrade Abbie Hoffman certainly had mixed feelings about Rubin’s apparent embrace of capitalism—but Hoffman needed bread too. As such, the pair went on a high-profile, barnstorming debate tour—Yippie vs. Yuppie—and got a lot of attention. (This reconciling of ’60s radicalism was part of a mini trend at the time: another hit of the era was Liddy vs. Leary, in which the busted Nixon fixer G. Gordon Liddy crossed verbal swords with acid guru Timothy Leary.)

At the end of his life, Rubin was teaching entrepreneurship to inner-city kids—but he was also hawking health-food drinks made from kelp and bee pollen called Wow! and Omni-4, and selling them through some curious marketing schemes. He was then hit by a car and died in the hospital two weeks later, at the age of 56.

Bobby Seale

After the Chicago Seven trial, Black Panther Party cofounder Bobby Seale, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, was acquitted of the murder of a party member suspected of being a police informant. One of the few central figures in the film still alive today, Seale continues to write and speak about social justice and the Black Panthers. In the late 1980s, Seale also achieved a level of mainstream success with the publication of Barbeque’n With Bobby.

Tom Hayden

Redmayne’s former Students for a Democratic Society president, Tom Hayden, fulfilled the prediction Judge Julius Hoffman (Frank Langella) made of him. He did, indeed, join the system, and served in the California State Legislature for nearly two decades. But Sorkin’s film makes no mention of the cinematic direction Hayden’s life took. After the trial, Hayden took highly publicized trips to North Vietnam and Cambodia. It was at that time he met someone else very involved in the anti-war movement: Jane Fonda. In 1973 they were married, and later that year, the happy couple gave birth to future actor Troy Garity (conceived in a motor home en route to Buffalo, according to Fonda). Garity played his father in the Abbie Hoffman biopic Steal This Movie.

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