Surviving James Dean

by William Bast

June 2006 | $24.95 | Hardcover | ISBN: 978-1-56980-298-4

Bast, a TV writer and journalist, was infatuated with James Dean (1931–1955) from the moment they met at UCLA in 1950. A closeted gay man, Bast had a crush on the brooding, unknown actor and had a brief fling with him. This work records their close friendship, Dean's rise to stardom, and the years following his premature death at age 24. Dean's troubled life is well documented, and Bast isn't interested in repeating his previous James Dean, a Biography, written in 1956. At the time, Bast was loathe to reveal his homosexuality or Dean's affairs with men. The hook is Dean's sexuality, which Bast explores in detail, discounting the actor's relationships with women and focusing on those with men, including a stint with a notorious "chicken hawk," an older man who fancies younger guys. (Bast quotes Dean saying of the union, "I paid my way.") This heartfelt book records Bast's coming out and the long-term impact Dean had on his life. A beautifully written memoir, candid and definitive, that tells the story of Bast's five-year relationship with the charismatic actor and American legend—James Dean.