PEOPLE Universal truth: You may be a big shot now, but to your high-school buddies, you’ll always be the guy who threw up on Mr. Fletcher in shop class or flunked business math four times.
That rule applies even if you’re TERRY SOUTHERN, a 1941 graduate of Dallas’ Sunset High School. Southern (R.O.T.C., Stamp Club, Biology Club) went on to become the world-renowned author of novels such as Candy and The Magic Christian, as well as screenplays such as Easy Rider and his modern classic Dr. Strangelove, or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. The 1964 film starred Peter Sellers, George C. Scott and Slim Pickens as the unforgettable rider on the bomb.
Sunset is holding its 50th reunion November 8-10, and naturally Southern’s classmates are hoping he’ll make it-even those who might not approve of the X-rated language of Candy, a satirical sendup of porno movies, or the apocalyptic politics of Strangclove.
Will he show up for the festivities? That’s anybody’s guess. As of early October there had been no word from Southern’s last known address in Connecticut. LOUIS B. GILLMOUR, Sunset class of ’42 and a Southern running buddy, tried to lure the author to an earlier reunion, but Southern was off to Europe. He responded with a chatty letter and a copy of a recent story he’d written for Hustler, a graphic account of his farewell to virginity. To spare his old pals from embarrassment, Southern had changed the name of his alma mater-to Woodrow Wilson High School.
In a note to classmates, Gillmour jokingly praised Southern as a “true genius of smut” and showed some literary flair of his own in defending the writer: “…to characterize his work as the perverted purveyance of putrid porn…would be a great disservice.” If that doesn’t bring Dr. Strangelove to the reunion, nothing will.