James Dean: live fast, die young, sleep with everything that moves in between.

Author:Rosner, Leah Hochbaum
Position:Book review
 
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After slogging through the entirety of James Dean: Tomorrow Never Comes (Blood Moon Productions, Ltd., 2016, 744 pgs., $17.78)--the new 700-plus-page doorstop of a biography on the doomed star from authors Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince--I've come to the conclusion that the book is quite possibly a complete work of fiction.

Sure, there are elements of truth to it--Dean was in fact born in 1931 in Marion, Indiana, he did die in a car crash in California in 1955, and he did appear in a few films in between. Otherwise there's simply no way of knowing if even half of the stuff the duo allege actually happened.

Instead of direct quotes from trusted sources, Porter and Prince opt for a method they call Phraseologies. "Since we...weren't privy to long-ago conversations as they were unfolding," they write, "we have relied on the memories of our sources for the conversational tone and phraseologies of what we've recorded within the pages of this book. This writing technique, as it applies to modern biography, has been defined as 'conversational storytelling' by the New York Times, which labeled it as an acceptable device for 'engaging reading.'"

OK, so it's an "acceptable device," but is it reliable? Not really. It seems that since Dean is long gone, they're mostly reliant on the hearsay of folks who may just want their own 15 minutes of fame. The pair claims that before he was famous (and even after he gained some small degree of notoriety) that the young, opportunistic Dean slept with or sexually serviced nearly every person--man or woman--that he came into contact with in Hollywood in the hopes of meeting someone, anyone, who could get him a role in a movie and make him a star.

They contend that he accepted money for many of these interactions, effectively making him a prostitute, not a stretch really since they also insist that he actually did work as a gay hustler, picking up nameless, faceless men for quickies all over Los Angeles.

Among those A-, B- and C-listers he supposedly bedded are: Walt Disney, Judy Garland, Joan Crawford, Montgomery Clift, Spencer Tracy (who supposedly was fascinated by Dean's foreskin; how Porter and Prince gleaned that tidbit I'll never know), Steve McQueen, Jack Benny, Merv Griffin, Elizabeth "Dizzy" Sheridan (who'd go on to a kind of fame playing Jerry Seinfeld's mom on Seinfeld), former child star Roddy McDowall and many, many, more.

It's quite a who's who of Hollywood. And it's a little hard to believe that...

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