Author: Paul Alexander
Pages: 97 Pages
James Dean’s death in a car crash at age 24 immortalized him as a cultural icon of youthful rebellion. His few screen performances captured haunting pain with unprecedented intimacy; now, on the 60th anniversary of Dean’s death, celebrated biographer Paul Alexander delves into the sources of that pain in Dean’s life: his mother’s death, his father’s absence, and his own turbulent sexuality.
Dean’s relationships with women were infamous. His relationships with men—first broached publicly in Alexander’s internationally bestselling biography Boulevard of Broken Dreams—remain hotly debated. This portrait uncovers new evidence on Dean’s sexuality, including reports from the people who knew him, and will also detail for the first time in the US the relationship Dean had with legendary actress Geraldine Page.
James Dean’s electric performances played a fundamental role in changing the direction of contemporary acting. Where did that pain, that vulnerability, come from? What was it like for the young man behind the myth?
I didn’t know much about James Dean. I knew he starred in three films and that he died really young but the things that I knew were essentially the legend of James Dean. The surplus information; the information gleaned from Hollywood folktale.
It was due to the above reason that I chose to read Being James Dean by Paul Alexander. With my mountainous piles of books I did not want to have to wade through a thick biography full of every minute detail but I did want to know a bit more about the man rather than the myth. Alexander’s book – at 97 pages – was perfect for my needs.
I believe you get a fairly rounded opinion of James Dean from this book. He cites friends and colleagues of Dean without ignoring other influences in his life such as his mother and her untimely passing and the fractured relationship that he had with his father. He reveals intimate details regarding Dean’s love life without being gossipy and reverting to tittle-tattle. He appears to regard the life and work of James Dean with an awful lot of dignity and reverence.
Being James Dean is a perfect starter for anyone who is interested in the man behind the legend.