The Death of James Dean

Warren Newton Beath, Author Grove Press $7.95 (201p) ISBN 978-0-394-55758-8
Dean, a handsome young actor, seemed headed for Hollywood idoldom when he died in an auto accident in California on September 30, 1955. Almost immediately thereafter he became a cult figure, and that situation has continued, shows the author. Since Dean made only three films, the focus of the cultists has been as much, perhaps more, on his death than on his life. The first half of this book, relating the accident, the inquest, the anniversary gatherings at Dean's burial site and similar topics, will strike the general reader as inconsequential. But in the second half, Beath profiles some of the odd, obsessed fans who keep the Dean legend alive; this section is brilliant, recalling Nathanael West. There is one disquieting note, however: Beath himself is a collector of Dean memorabilia. Photos not seen by PW. 10,000 first printing; author tour. (September 30)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-8021-3143-0
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