Enigmatic, reserved, rebellious, and a real Renaissance man, James Dean was taken away from his friends, family, and fans far too young. While he only starred in three films – East of EdenRebel Without a Cause, and Giant – along with several smaller film appearances, TV appearances, commercials, and plays, Dean’s swagger and look became legendary in the annals of Hollywood history.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Real James Dean. The stories presented come from friends, family, and colleagues and deliver a dimensional portrait of the actor, from his Midwest upbringing to his final moments.  

The editor’s commentary helps bridge gaps and continuity issues that appear between stories. There was a genuine effort to ensure the facts about Dean were 100% correct, leaving the mythologizing to those who knew and loved him most.

The Real James Dean paints a real portrait of a real man, flaws and all. It’s interesting to read about similar situations from multiple perspectives. Many felt he was a skilled genius, while others thought he was a rude, self-centered young man with no respect for authority.

If you are a fan of Hollywood history or actor biographies or want to learn about a man who was taken far too early, I highly recommend this book.