Keeper of the Flame



JAMES DEAN GALLERY 2 X390 (FAIR USE) | ADVOCATE.COMHow did you begin your collection?
I got another book about him and a poster and a button and didn’t realize it would turn into my life. I started collecting and getting more involved with him. When I moved back to New York I worked with David Dalton on another book, James Dean: American Icon. That was my first big Dean project. Since then I’ve worked on most of the books and documentaries.

How did you come to visit Fairmount for the first time?
I was moving from Pasadena back to New York and had a van and went out of my way to stop here. When I got here it was Mother’s Day, 1979. I spent the afternoon in the town, and it was just so old-fashioned. I walked around the town and went to his grave site and out to the farm and then headed to New York. My mind was spinning the whole way there thinking of different things that could be done.

How sensitive is the subject of Dean's sexuality to his family and straight fans?

In Fairmount they don’t talk about it or discuss it, really. People who knew him say he had girlfriends all through high school, and he did. In his book James Dean: The Biography, Val Holley researched that thoroughly for many years and uncovered some male lovers that Dean had, mostly in New York and Hollywood. It goes with his personality. He was so experimental in his life and wanted to learn about everything. He’d get into a subject and work on it until he mastered it and then move on to the next thing. I think it’s fairly well known that he had some gay relationships, but he had girlfriends all through his life too. I don’t know if you can pinpoint him as gay or bisexual. He was just a total free spirit.

Tags: film