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140                                     Jack Fritscher, Ph.D.
               Speeding forward at 125 mph in his silver Porsche convertible,
            James Dean hovered in the back of the heads of Drummer readers in the

            II.  The feature article as published in Preview: The Family Enter-
               tainment Guide, June 1962

            In a short, tragic career,
            brooding James Dean unknowingly toyed
            with the emotions of a generation and
            even after death held their misguided loyalty.
            Fortunately, the years have erased
            this adulation for one who was,
            in truth, no more than a . . .

                         Magnificent Failure
                  by Jack Fritscher writing as John J. Fritscher

            Near seven years his name has lived on three short years of limelit life.
            Valentino could not die and Byron will be seen forever at Missolonghi. Yet
            in the ruins of abrupt tragedy, when his searching was not ended, there
            was frozen in last season’s generation the memory of the sweet lost pains
            of adolescence and the old times that are forever gone.
               In September, 1955, when James Dean sped to his death in Califor-
            nia’s fertile Salinas Valley, Warner Bros. calculated and shook its collective
            head at the loss. The first crush of mail was indignant, almost hysteri-
            cally resentful, piqued with premature death. Then the letters slowed to a
            trickle and Hollywood recognized the chilling calm that leads to obscu-
            rity. Yet in December there was a surprising increase; January delivered
            3,000 letters; and by summer, 1956, the studio was averaging 7,000 letters
            a month with payment enclosed for photographs of James Byron Dean.
               The for-once-amazed press agentry was stymied by the gratuitous
            flood of mail. From mouth to mouth spread the personal commitment
            to his memory, the adulation, the rumors. Through the high schools and
            junior colleges of the nation the secret whispered that Jimmy Dean was
            not dead, that he was horribly disfigured, temporarily insane, hidden
            away. The public demanded the whole truth about the young actor who
            lived and died almost between the blinks of a weary world’s eye.

          ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 05-05-2017
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