With the new film The Trial of the Chicago 7, writer and director Aaron Sorkin tells many of us might not know about at all — but a select group remember all too well. At the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, anti-Vietnam War protesters and police clashed in the streets, and eight men ended up in a lengthy trial for charges including conspiracy to incite a riot. Since the movie — on Netflix now — focuses on the trial itself, it leaves viewers wondering what happened to the Chicago 7 in the years afterward.
Well, to start, they all went in very different directions with their lives. The Trial of the Chicago 7 makes a point about how the men differed in their views and backgrounds even though they were all anti-war, and they continued to follow their own separate paths after the trial. One became a politician. One continued his career as a chemist. One ended up changing his tune on capitalism entirely. That said, some of the men did stay in touch. Lee Weiner, for instance, stayed in touch with Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. John Froines became friends with Tom Hayden.
Read on to find out where each of the Chicago 7 — and eighth member, Bobby Seale — ended up after their infamous trial.
Following the trial, Rennie Davis’ (Alex Sharp) life went in some pretty interesting directions. The first notable thing is that he became friends with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and joined forces with them when it came to speaking out against the Vietnam War, according to an interview with the Guardian. He also became a follower of the Indian guru Maharaj Ji, who led the Divine Light Mission, as reported by the New York Times in 1973. Then, he became a venture capitalist and also founded the Foundation for a New Humanity. His thoughts on money aren’t typical. As he wrote in Forbes, “To me money… is a psychological construct.” Davis, who is now 80, told the Guardian of The Trial of the Chicago 7, “There are some things that I wouldn’t agree with how Sorkin has characterized certain figures in the trial, myself included. But the impact of the movie is there and I certainly endorse and support it.”
Tom Hayden (played by Eddie Redmayne), the founder of the Students for a Democratic Society, became a lawyer, author, professor, and politician. He continued the fight against the Vietnam War, and in 1974 produced the documentary Introduction to the Enemy with his then-wife Jane Fonda. (He married the actor in 1973). Hayden ran for various political offices over the years, as noted in his New York Times obituary, including for governor of California and U.S. Senator from California. He was elected to the California State Assembly in 1982, serving 10 years until he was elected to the California Senate in 1992. He also taught university classes and wrote articles. Hayden died in 2016 following heart issues.
David Dellinger (John Carroll Lynch) was known as a “radical pacifist” and had been protesting longer than the other members of the Chicago 7, including refusing to register for the military during World War II and serving prison time for it. According to the Guardian, he once described his time protesting the Vietnam War as "the older brother siding with the rebellious younger child against his parents.” Following the trial, he became a teacher and writer, and wrote his autobiography, From Yale to Jail. He died in 2004 at age 88.
Co-founder of the Youth International Party Abbie Hoffman (played by Sacha Baron Cohen) spent several of the years following the trial in hiding, according to the New York Times, because he was worried about facing cocaine charges. This included time in which he “masqueraded through Europe as a food reviewer” and got plastic surgery. In 1980, he surrendered on lesser charges. Hoffman continued speaking out in support of leftist politics during his life, doing standup comedy and public speaking, including many appearances at universities. He published several books, including Steal This Book, Steal This Urine Test: Fighting Drug Hysteria in America, and his autobiography, Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture. Hoffman died by suicide in 1989 at age 52.
Youth International Party co-founder Jerry Rubin (played by Jeremy Strong) took a far different path in life from Hoffman. By the 1980s, he was working on Wall Street and holding networking parties, according to his New York Times obituary. He changed his stance on capitalism, and, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, one of his jobs included advertising “nutritional drinks." The NYT reports that Rubin did not change his stance on being against the Vietnam War. Rubin died in 1994 at age 56 after being hit by a car.
In the film, the character of Lee Weiner (played by Noah Robbins) is much more reserved than the real Weiner, who was put on trial in part because of teaching others how to make Molotov cocktails. He also doesn’t look like him. Weiner, 81, recently told the Chicago Tribune that he looked “like a maniac” at the time with long hair and a long beard. In his life following the trial, Weiner worked for the Anti-Defamation League and recently wrote the book Conspiracy to Riot: The Life and Times of One of the Chicago 7. “There have been a lot of movies (about the trial), but this is the best,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “I watched it straight the first time because I figured people would ask me about the movie. You know, no drugs. The second time, I watched it with a lot of weed. So I have multiple perceptions of it.”
At the time of the trial, John Froines (played by Daniel Flaherty) was a chemist and he worked in that field for the remainder of his career. He worked primarily in occupational health, including as the Deputy Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Director of the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health. He taught at the University of Oregon and at UCLA, where he was also the head of the Occupational Health Center. Froines is now 81 years old.
“No one is the same now as then [in the ‘60s],” Froines told the Los Angeles Times in 1990. “I think it’s more valuable to look at a person’s history — to see if they have been consistent within the context of their values. We still need student protesters because many of the problems of the ‘60s continue and new issues have emerged. But nobody’s a student activist at 50. You’d have to have your head examined.”
Lastly, there’s Bobby Seale (played by Watchmen's Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), who was not part of the Chicago 7, but, as shown in the movie, was part of the group when they were known as the Chicago 8 or Conspiracy 8, before he was removed from the trial. Following the events in the film, the co-founder of the Black Panther Party ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Oakland in 1973 and left the Black Panthers in 1974, according to AARP. He then worked as a community liaison for Temple University’s Department of African American Studies. He wrote the books Seize the Time, A Lonely Rage, and Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers, as well as the cookbook Barbeque’n with Bobby. Now 83 years old, he continues to give talks at universities around the country.