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James Dean’s legend lives on

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Review by Sebastian Garcia

“That guy’s got to stop. He’ll see us.” Those were the last words spoken by 1950s actor James Dean, before his Porsche Spyder racecar collided with an oncoming car, killing him instantly. 

Throughout the years, Dean has acquired a large fan base due to his rebellious persona and carefree life, even though he starred in only three major films, in a professional acting career that lasted only four years. 

If nothing else can be learned form Dean’s short life, let it be that the man may die, but the legend will live on.

“James Dean,” a book assembled by George Perry and David Loehr and published in 2005, offers an intimate look into the film icon’s life. 

Drawing on the many pictures of Dean, including some rare ones hardly seen before, this book tries to chip away at the myths of the man and offer a tender side of the boy from Indiana, who lost his mother at age six. In school, Dean excelled in academics and sports. 

He also participated in many theatrical school productions, including “Macbeth,” during his stay at the University of California-Los Angeles. In 1955, Dean got his first big break in the film, “East Of Eden.”

Throughout his life, Dean always had a fascination with cars and motorcycles. This fascination later led to the purchase of his treasured 1955 silver Porsche Spyder racecar.  Before his death, he began participating in many races, where he frequently won first place. 

One of the myths surrounding Dean is that someone told him a week before his death that he would die soon, with the new Porsche he bought. 

In addition to the plethora of knowledge and pictures of Dean, the book also offers many quotes from him and the people that knew him. In one section of the book, a quote mentions that Dean had a fascination with death. 

When asked about the subject of a fatal crash on the circuit Dean raced in, he responded, “What better way to die? It’s fast and clean and you go out in a blaze of glory.” 

 “James Dean” is a well-written account of the actor’s life and is assembled in such a way that only a true Dean fan would appreciate. Loehr, the archivist of the book, is a Dean enthusiast nicknamed “Dean of Deanabilia.” 

 Many pictures of Dean from Loehr’s private collection are in this book and have not been seen before. This is definitely a good book to acquire for any Dean fan, or even a person who wants to know a little more about the iconic film star.