HELLO AMERICA!—It seems I’ve been fortunate enough to be asked to return to radio, having my own show at WLMR RADIO based in Atlanta, GA; it’s an international station advancing all aspects of the arts. I felt extremely lucky to join such a group because during my nearly 25 years working with partner Barry Pope at KDIA in San Francisco.
I learned much about people who genuinely make beautiful things happen in music, theater, films, as well as those creative people who create and develop thousands of small businesses which keep communities alive and interesting. However, no matter what I did or discussed daily on the air, especially about those who are in the motion picture industry, people still want to know more about the late iconic actor and my friend, JAMES DEAN.
Of course, when I see his few films over and over again through the years, I clearly understand his attraction. He was different that’s for sure! When it was announced that I would be returning to radio dealing with entertainment news, I immediately was inundated with messages and requests to talk about James Dean and my relationship with him. On my first show, I talked about what he and I had in common that drew us close. First of all he came from a small town, and I did too, one that is located about 10 miles outside of Philadelphia. He had a Quaker influence at one point in his young life, as did I having attended Swarthmore High School, a Quaker school.
We both loved writing and enjoyed classical music. We both studied the dance, especially Afro-American and Cuban and we both had fantasies about bull fighting. There was something else that drew us very close together, that was the fact that he was raped at eleven years old and I was raped when I was six years old and two weeks later watched the man who attacked me get killed in the middle of the street. Often, after a serious talk about our growing up experiences, Jimmy would simply drive me back to U.S.C. in complete silence.
We had a genuine relationship with tons of deep understanding which we both hungered for and needed. When he lost the love of Pier Angeli, a beautiful Italian young actress who was on her way up in making quite a film career for herself, he seemed happiest than I had ever seen him. He was skipping about like a young kid who just discovered something quite extraordinary, he seemed finally alive! However, the joy darkened very quickly when he found that he never would be allowed to marry Pier because he wasn’t Catholic. It took a lot of talks to make him realize that losing was just as important as winning and each one is a test as to how we handle it, determining what kind of human being one becomes.
During our last weeks together, I was seriously involved in rehearsals for a short play being presented at the STOP GAP THEATRE on the U.S.C. campus. Jimmy snuck in the back of the theater and watched everything I did. When it ended, he came up to me with tears in his eyes and said, “You’re somethin’ else, you know?” I was quite taken with his reaction and simply smiled and responded with, “Thanks, Jimmy, maybe I’ll be as good as you.”
It was quite a moment. However, on another occasion he let me know that he really believed he would live a short life and that’s why he wanted to take advantage of every moment that he had to enjoy people he liked as well as drive a real fast car. To him that was the most thrilling way to move forward in life. Sadly, that’s exactly what he did. JAMES DEAN LIVED A FULL AND LOVING LIFE, AND IT ENDED IN A VERY FAST CAR!