Friday, 26 December 2008

Behind the Songs: Jim Dean of Indiana

"His mother died when he was a boy, his father was a stranger
Marcus Winslow took him in, nobody seemed to want him"
--Phil Ochs, "Jim Dean of Indiana" (1970)

James Dean: A Biography

James Dean died in 1955 at the age of 24, blazing out his position as the 'first American teenager' and destined forever to exemplify the spirit of rebellion and defiance. His film career lasted only sixteen months, but it produced three cinematic greats: East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant. The titles alone evoke epic visions and even now all three films retain their timeless appeal, constituting a three-part heroic poem on atomic age youth, its beauties and its frustrations.

So much has been written about James Dean that today the myth has become hazy, and he is both revered and puzzled over by generations who never knew him. Yet who really was James Dean, the original 'live fast, die young' icon of the twentieth century? This definitive and balanced study, now fully updated, cuts through all the different legends around James Dean and shows the man behind the myth. John Howlett interviewed many actors, friends and lovers who knew Dean in New York and Hollywood, and for this edition has incorporated fascinating new material about James Dean's sexuality and significant information that has come to light from the opening of the Warner Brothers archives on Dean.

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