We’ve written a lot about James Dean over the years, in part a reflection of the still continuing discussion among classic movie fans of just how good an actor he really was — or wasn’t.

A big help in sorting this out is the publication of a superb new book, The Real James Dean: Intimate Memories from Those Who Knew Him Best (Chicago Review Press), crisply edited by Peter L. Winkler. Although the title suggests a Dean hagiography this telling book is anything but.  On both personal and professional levels it authoritatively and honestly covers it all. A must read.

Our Quiz will excerpt from the new book something that someone in the actor’s short life said about him. We’ll then ask you to identify the person. As usual, the questions today and the answers tomorrow.  Here we go:

1) Question:  Which one of the following described Dean thusly: He’s a snotty kid? a) Elia Kazan; b) Novelist John Steinbeck; c) Jim Backus; or d) Tony Perkins.

2) Question: I was totally unprepared for his success…the instant he appeared on the screen hundreds of girls began to scream. Who said this of Dean? a) Nicholas Ray; b) Jack Warner; c) Elia Kazan; or d) Raymond Massey.

3) Question:  Jimmy and Marilyn (Monroe) treated each other like resentful siblings. Whose observation is this? a) Shelley Winters; b) Natalie Wood; c) Hedda Hopper; or d) Louella Parsons. 

4) Question: About Dean and actress Pier Angeli: I could hear them boffing, but more often arguing through the walls. Which of the following reported this? a) Elia Kazan; b) Vampira; c) Burl Ives; or d) studio head Dore Schary.

5) Question:  He was basically a young and highly gifted adolescent in desperate need of help. Who wrote this?  a) director Frank Corsaro; b) columnist Leonard Lyons; c) John Wayne; or d) Humphrey Bogart.

6) Question: That prick. He was so rude, so unprofessional. Who in the world said this of Dean?  a) Tab Hunter; b) Guy Madison; c) Rock Hudson or d) Nick Adams.

7) Question:  We had an extraordinary friendship We would sometimes sit up until three in the morning, and he would tell me about his past…and the next day he would just look straight through me. Who said this? a) Elizabeth Taylor; b) Julie Harris; c) Natalie Wood or d) Pier Angeli.

8) Question: A lot of people in Hollywood thought he was an obnoxious creep, was uttered by: a) Dennis Hopper; b) Ben Gazzara; c) Marlon Brando; or d) Vampira?

9) Question: By his short presence on this earth, my friend Jimmy Dean caused more to transpire socially than many of the great rulers of history….I don’t think all of it is good. This was said by a) film composer Leonard Rosenman; b) columnist Joe Hyams; c) Hume Cronyn; or d) actress Ursula Andress.

10) Question:  Jamie (as I called him) and Marilyn  (Monroe) were remarkably alike in a number of ways. Both were loners and lonely; both were hard-driving and sure of their career goals; and both were frustrated at the…waste of their talent. The person who wrote this is: a) Mercedes McCambridge; b) Nicholas Ray; c) Arthur Miller; or d) Eartha Kitt.



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