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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Friends, Family and Co-Stars Remember Actor James Dean

Aired January 1, 2004 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(VIDEO CLIP - "REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE")
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, James Dean. He lived only 24 years. He made only three major films before his tragic death in a mysterious 1955 car crash that still inspires debate, as the "Rebel Without a Cause" himself continues to fascinate us, all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

On September 30, 1955, James Dean, age 24, was killed in a car accident. He'd made only one movie that had been released at the time, "East of Eden." "Rebel Without a Cause" and "Giant" would be released after his death. He still lives on with incredible, almost unbelievable authenticity. People still talk about him, revere his name. And we're going to talk about him tonight. A look at the life and times of James Dean.

Joining us here in Los Angeles is Liz Sheridan, James Dean's one- time girlfriend. These days, she's best known as Jerry Seinfeld's mom on the smash hit comedy "Seinfeld." She's author of the book, "Dizzy and Jimmy: My Life with James Dean." In Fairmount (ph), Indiana, is Joan Winslow, James Dean's cousin. Also in Fairmount, Indiana, is Marcus Winslow. He's Joan's brother, obviously also James Dean's cousin. Joan and Marcus are Dean's only living relatives.

Back in Los Angeles with Martin Landau, the Academy Award-winning actor and close friend of Dean's; Frank Mazola, who appeared opposite Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause," was also a technical adviser on that same film; Jane Withers, one of Dean's co-stars in the 1956 film hit "Giant," the last time Dean was seen on screen; and finally, Mark Rydell, director, actor and friend of Dean's, who starred with Jimmy in a dramatic television production in the '50s, and back two years ago, directed and co-starred in a special TNT television movie about James Dean's life.

Joan Winslow, you're in the house that James Dean grew up in. Is that right?

JOAN WINSLOW, DEAN'S COUSIN: Yes.

KING: Would you tell me the circumstances of how he came to live with his cousins?

JOAN WINSLOW: Well, my folks had told Uncle Wenton (ph) that they'd be glad to have him come and stay at our house until the Uncle Wenton could take care of him. At that time, his mother had passed away.

KING: So Marcus, James came to live with you at a very young age because he had no mother and the father couldn't take care of him?

MARCUS WINSLOW, DEAN'S COUSIN: Yes. But Larry, I was born three years after Jimmy come to live here. He come to live here with Mom and Dad and Joan in 1940, and I was born in 1943. So my memories of Jimmy are just kind of like an older brother that was always here and, you know, always going in and out of the house and doing things around here.

KING: Joan, what -- and you were -- you were -- you were already there, right, when Jimmy arrived?

JOAN WINSLOW: Yes. I was 14 and Jimmy was 9. And we were both only children, and we had a lot of adjusting to do when he come.

KING: Did you get along?

JOAN WINSLOW: Oh, yes. Like brothers and sisters.

KING: So occasionally, you fought?

JOAN WINSLOW: I didn't always agree with him and he certainly didn't agree with me, but we got along fine.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Were you happy about his career?

JOAN WINSLOW: Oh, sure. However, I didn't know what went on with him after he left the farm here. I just could tell you about when he was living -- we were all living here.

KING: Did he want to be an actor when he was young?

JOAN WINSLOW: I didn't know that he did, but he evidently did.

KING: Was he always that handsome?

JOAN WINSLOW: Yes, he was always a cute little boy. From the time I can remember him, he was cute, and he was always the center of attention wherever he went. It just seemed like that he could make whatever -- where he was, that -- he made himself the center of attention.

KING: We're going to be coming back to you. You stay right with us there in Fairmount, Indiana. Joan Winslow is James's cousin, and Marcus is also the cousin. Both lived in the house with James, and Joan has, of course, very good memories because she was five years older.

Liz, you went with James Dean?

LIZ SHERIDAN, DEAN'S EX-GIRLFRIEND: We hitchhiked. Oh, I thought you meant to Indiana!

(LAUGHTER)

KING: You went to Indiana with him, too?

SHERIDAN: We hitchhiked in the middle of the night.

KING: You mean, he went back home?

SHERIDAN: Yes.

KING: For what -- just to visit?

SHERIDAN: Yes. He wanted to show me the farm.

KING: Was yours a very serious relationship?

SHERIDAN: Yes, but it was the first...

KING: Were you contemplating marriage?

SHERIDAN: Huh?

KING: Were you thinking about getting married?

SHERIDAN: Well, in the middle of the night, he went around the corner and made a phone call and asked me if I would marry him. And I said, I don't know. Isn't it strange?

KING: Why didn't you know?

SHERIDAN: Because we were very young and we were having a good time, and just something inside said, Sure, but I don't know. You know.

KING: What was he like?

SHERIDAN: He was very playful. He was serious. He was sad. He was...

KING: Difficult?

SHERIDAN: Well, we used to play with his -- he had a bloody (ph) cape belonged to Sidney Franklin (ph), and we used to play with it in Central Park, and I always got to be the bull and I never got to be the matador, and...

KING: He played bullfighter?

SHERIDAN: ... and that was our biggest fight.

KING: He liked bullfights?

SHERIDAN: Yes. And I did, too.

KING: What was it like working with him, Jane?

JANE WITHERS, DEAN'S CO-STAR IN "GIANT": Oh, I loved it. We didn't get to snow each other right off the bat. I guess I just don't kowtow to anybody, Larry, and I sort of stayed in the background. And one of these days he walked up to me and said, You don't like me, do you. I said, Now, Jimmy, that's not fair. We've never even had a chance to share thoughts about anything. I'd love to get to know you better. Why don't you come over to the house after we finish work, and I've got lots of books and records over there that I brought to share with the whole crew. And I'd just love to have you come.

Well, that night, when I was cleaning up after everybody else left, I went to naturally check all the rooms, and I opened a door and there was Jimmy in the back bedroom, on the bed, all sprawled out with his hat pulled down over his eyes and his boots up like this. And dear Gussy (ph). I said, How in the world did you get in here? And he said, Through the window. I said, Next time, Sonny, you come through the front door just like everybody else.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Mark, how did you come to know James Dean?

MARK RYDELL, DIRECTOR, FRIEND OF DEAN: Jimmy and I used the pound the pavements in New York. We were competitors for jobs, you know?

KING: Both actors.

RYDELL: Yes, both actors. And we acted together on -- there was a show in New York called "Omnibus," which was...

KING: Remember it well. Sundays.

RYDELL: Yes, a very distinguished kind of show. They'd have a ballet company and then...

KING: Live television, right?

RYDELL: Right. And Jimmy and I and Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy did a -- William Inge's first teleplay, called "Glory in the Flower (ph)" together. As a matter of fact, we were walking home after that show, and he was talking about bullfighting, you know, walking down Madison Avenue. And suddenly, a bus -- you know, buses used to hurtle down Madison Avenue.

KING: Oh, yes.

RYDELL: He took -- whipped off his jacket, jumped in front of the bus, did a pass with his jacket. The bus absolutely practically scraped his shirt. I leapt back 20 feet, like any sensible Jewish boy, and he hysterically laughed. And I remember thinking at that moment that he was -- his future was going to be a short one.

KING: Going to hold Martin for the last in our first go-round. But Frank, you not only appeared opposite him in "Rebel Without a Cause," but were technical adviser on the film.

FRANK MAZOLA, CO-STARRED WITH DEAN IN "REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE": Yes, I...

KING: Were you a rebel?

MAZOLA: Well, in Hollywood, there was a club called the Opinions, and it was all the guys who were kind of, in those days, beatniks. But there were student body presidents. There were football players. We had a kid named Jack Hollywood, who was middleweight Golden Gloves champ out here for Golden Gloves. And in those days, Hollywood -- if you were from Hollywood, you were like a mark. So when you'd walk the street, guys from the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) would come in or whatever...

KING: Oh, really?

MAZOLA: Oh, yes, and try to -- you know, elbow you off the sidewalk.

KING: No kidding. What was Jimmy like?

MAZOLA: The first time I saw Jimmy was on "East of Eden." And my reaction was -- to him was that he looked like a wild man that had been let out of a cage -- I mean, that -- in this specific sequence that I was involved with. But then when I met him on "Rebel Without a Cause," at first, he was kind of a little aloof. And then there was a situation where Nick (ph) knew that I had this club that I was a leader of called the Athenians -- Carl Bacon (ph) and those guys. And he was curious about if Jimmy could hang out with me to see what it was like to be around teenagers because I think Jimmy felt he was a little old.

KING: He was older than you?

MAZOLA: He was 24 at the time.

KING: And you were?

MAZOLA: Nineteen. And...

KING: How'd that work out? I got to take a break. How'd that work out?

MAZOLA: It worked out great. I mean, I set up a whole fight that was supposed to happen that Nick and Jimmy became a part of.

KING: Got to like him?

MAZOLA: Did I get to like Jimmy? Yes. He was a very giving guy.

KING: We'll ask our Academy Award winner, Mr. Landau, his thoughts and then continue with our whole panel. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - "REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE")

MAZZOLA: Well, what are you waiting on, Toreador? I thought you wanted a little action.

(CROSSTALK) MAZZOLA: ... crying chicken now! You...

JAMES DEAN: Don't call me that!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - "GIANT")

DEAN: Me, I'm going to have more money than you ever thought you could have, you and all the rest of you stinking sons of Benedicts!

ROCK HUDSON: Leslie, you go on in the house. Take the women with you.

ELIZABETH TAYLOR: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we're real glad you struck it. Now you go on along home.

DEAN: My, you sure do look pretty, Miss (UNINTELLIGIBLE) You always do look pretty. Just pretty nigh good enough to eat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Again, James Dean was killed September 30, 1955. I guess he'd be what...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: ... 73, 74. All right, Martin, how -- you didn't act with him, did you?

LANDAU: No. Well, yes. We did, actually. We did scenes together. But I met him at an open casting call. CBS was kind of letting people who weren't discovered in on, you know -- we'd parade 10 at a time. We'd get a number. And it was a rainy day, and Jimmy and I happened to be sitting next to each other. And both of us went up and were rejected. And we walked out, and it had been raining and it was -- the sun was shining. And we walked down the street and we passed a little construction site, where it said "Sidewalk superintendents." And we took it seriously and we started screaming down at the workers. Hey, move that thing! And so on. And he -- the two of us.

(CROSSTALK)

LANDAU: And the guys with the hard hats were looking up at us, you know? We hit it off, literally did improvisations on the street. We went to Cramwell's (ph), had a cup of coffee and became very close friends.

KING: How good was he?

LANDAU: He was very talented. I mean, obviously. He...

KING: How talented? Could have been great. LANDAU: He was, as a young actor, as good as you can get.

KING: Potentially...

LANDAU: Potentially...

KING: Brando?

LANDAU: Monty Clift, Brando, no question.

KING: In that league?

LANDAU: Oh, absolutely.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - ``SOMETHING FOR AN EMPTY BRIEFCASE'')

DEAN: Well, that's enough for me today, Lou.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the matter, Joey? You quitting? Don't you want to try to break me? I still got $34 left.

DEAN: No, no. I'm 18 bucks ahead. That's the trouble with you guys. You want everything all at once. But you got to work for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LANDAU: Well, he already, you know, had made a mark. I mean, doing a -- the lead role in Kazan movie, "East of Eden," kind of launched him...

KING: Yes.

LANDAU: ... very quickly.

KING: Joan, what did you think when you saw him in a movie?

JOAN WINSLOW: Well, I thought he was a great -- he did a great job. I thought he was -- he looked a lot like my uncle at that time. And I have a hard time concentrating on his movies because I look at him, all I can think about is why was he driving so fast that evening, or he looks like somebody else. And I can't really concentrate on the movie.

KING: Marcus, what do you think when you look at his films?

JOAN WINSLOW: It's sad.

KING: Yes. Obviously. Marcus, what do you think?

MARCUS WINSLOW: I really enjoyed "East of Eden." Jimmy was still living, of course, when "East of Eden" was released.

KING: Yes.

MARCUS WINSLOW: And he had been visiting us here in Fairmount about a month before "East of Eden" was released. And the operator of the Indiana theater in Marion had a special showing for the family and some friends. And we went over in the morning and watched "East of Eden," and then it was released to the public in Marion that night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - ``EAST OF EDEN'' TRAILER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Warner Brothers had to seek out vibrant new personalities, tap new sources of talent, create new stars. James Dean is Cal (ph), the wildest boy you've ever met!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARCUS WINSLOW: And it was really exciting to see him up on the screen. And you know, when the first shot showed him, you know, you were really looking for him, and right away...

KING: There he was.

MARCUS WINSLOW: Yes. He was the very first part of the show. And it just -- to me, it didn't even seem like he was acting, just seemed like Jimmy walking around and talking. And of course, I like all three of his movies, but "East of Eden" has always been my favorite of the three and...

KING: Was he a natural, Liz?

SHERIDAN: Yes.

KING: Natural?

SHERIDAN: I think so.

KING: Although he was trained, right?

SHERIDAN: Well, yes, but he wasn't really that trained when I knew him and...

KING: Were you dating him when he died?

SHERIDAN: I was in the islands, the West Indies. And that's when he died, and I didn't know until...

KING: You had broken up?

SHERIDAN: No. We kept in touch. He wrote some letters. I was on a horse on the beach, and there was a little radio on the bar which was on the beach in St. Thomas, and they started...

KING: That's where you heard it?

SHERIDAN: That's where I heard it.

KING: Obviously, disbelief.

SHERIDAN: Disbelief.

KING: How did you hear about it, Mark? RYDELL: I was assisting Bob Mulligan, learning how to direct. Let's see. Who was -- Sidney Poirtier (ph) and Don Murray were doing a television show that he was directing, and I was learning the camera. And they announced it that he had died, and it was absolutely paralytic. I mean, everybody stopped and -- because he meant so much to so many people, and we all kind of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) so close to him. The shock was overwhelming. I didn't get over it for a while.

KING: Jane?

WITHERS: I was on the set at first, and then when the news came, Mr. Stevens (ph) made an announcement to everyone...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: This was "Giant"? They were still shooting?

WITHERS: This was "Giant." Oh, yes. We were still shooting. Mr. Stevens made an announcement, and he started crying. We all did. I -- but you know, Larry, I wasn't surprised because Jimmy had come to my home the day before and brought me his pink shirt. And that's -- the story of his pink shirt is very special to me because he used to come after work and he'd come to the house, and we'd read to each other from either plays or I'd read to him...

KING: You were friends, right?

WITHERS: Oh, we became kind of special friends, like a bigger sister, I'd say, or something like that. And we had a very special friendship. And anyway, I would read to him from the Bible, which he seemed to love. And later on, I had a wonderful letter from his aunt, and she told me how much that had meant to him.

KING: You saved the shirt?

WITHERS: Did I save it? You bet. I've cared for it ever since. Here it is. And I brought it to share with the world because it's very special. This is Jimmy's pink shirt. And he didn't want it to go to the laundry because he'd lost two other shirts that he just loved. So he was at the house one night, and we had been reading and playing games, Monopoly, with everybody else that -- he finally did come with some of the others there.

And long story short, I said, Jimmy, when was the last time you washed that shirt or sent it to the laundry? He said, They're not getting this one. He said, I love this shirt with a passion. He said -- I said, Well, it doesn't smell very good, Jimmy. Who don't you go in the other room, in the bathroom. There's a nice white terrycloth robe. Bring me your shirt, and I'll wash it. He said, When will I get it back? I said, Well, it'll be, like, maybe 20 minutes because it's 115 in the shade, and I'll just wash it by hand and then put it out to dry.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) beautiful, with those pearl buttons.

WITHERS: Isn't it wonderful? And he would bring it every night, though, in a little brown bag and say, Here's my shirt.

KING: Marty, where were you when he died?

LANDAU: I was home in New York, and I got a call from Willard Sage (ph), who was an actor friend of ours who was under contract to MGM, who's since passed away. And I -- I -- I was in total shock. I mean, I -- you know, people said that he had a death wish. I never felt he did. You know, we always talked about...

KING: Liz is shaking her head no. You don't think he had that?

SHERIDAN: No.

KING: Frank, where were you?

MAZOLA: Sunset and Gardner, and...

KING: In a car?

MAZOLA: In a car. And...

KING: On the radio?

MAZOLA: Heard it on the radio. But the thing is, the first night Jimmy got the Porsche -- the Speedster (ph), not the Spyder (ph) -- we were at the Chateau Marmont, and he wanted to know if I wanted to take a ride in it. And we went up Laurel Canyon. And he was wide open on that. And he would go around blind curves. And I was kind of...

KING: Worried?

MAZOLA: No. I was -- I wanted to say something, but I thought I'd throw him off. And I basically grabbed onto a little steel bar on the dash. And there was something weird that came in my mind. We got to the top of Mulholland Drive, and he hit some dirt and we slid. And you know, the -- it was right there at the edge of the mountain. And in my mind, this thing -- it said, This guy's immortal. Nothing's going to stop him. He can do anything. And then...

KING: He's not going to die.

MAZOLA: He's not going to die. But I mean, then, in a sense, he becomes immortal, you know?

LANDAU: But the accident -- you know, he was only going 70 miles an hour in a Porsche, and the fact that there were very few of those Spyders in the country...

KING: They're very low to the ground, right?

LANDAU: Very low to the ground. The guy didn't see him.

KING: What happened?

(CROSSTALK) LANDAU: Well, the fellow was going to turn left...

KING: Guy made a left turn into him?

LANDAU: Into his lane.

KING: He -- the mechanic lived, right? The mechanic...

(CROSSTALK)

LANDAU: The mechanic lived. He passed away a few years, but he did live.

KING: Right back with more of the life and times of James Dean after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jimmy, we probably have a great many young people watching our show tonight, and for their benefit, I'd like your opinion about fast driving on the highway. Do you think it's a good idea?

DEAN: It's good point. I used to fly around quite a bit you know? I took a lot of unnecessary chances on the highways. And I started racing, and now I drive on the highways, I'm extra cautious because no one knows what they're doing half the time. You don't know what this guy is going to do or that one. On a track, there are a lot of men who spend a lot of time developing rules and ways of safety. And I find myself being very cautious on the highways.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(CLIP FROM "REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE")

KING: Jimmy Dean once tested stunts on the TV show "Beat the Clock." It was hosted by Bud Collier (ph), and they would have guests often do stunts and try to beat the time. Jimmy was one of those testing the stunts.

This is for all of you. We'll start with Mr. Rydell. Why did -- only three movies, 24 years old. Why does that myth live?

RYDELL: Well, he was -- he was not just a normal person. This kid was special. You knew it the minute you set eyes on him and really talked to you. You knew you were in the presence of something very unusual, very special. His acting was impeccable. His sensitivity was overwhelming. You know, he's -- those guys come along once every 10, 15 years.

KING: But they generally have longer careers.

RYDELL: Well, you know, Jimmy was a troubled -- very troubled guy. KING: Did two Broadway plays, right?

RYDELL: Yes.

LANDAU: Yes, but he also -- that was a time of Elvis's emergence and a time of teenage rebellion, and Jimmy personified that. All the movies he did were...

KING: In fact, "Rebel Without a Cause" just boosted it...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEAN: You're not tearing me loose again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, this is news to me! Just why are we moving?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, do I have to spell it out?

DEAN: You are not going to use me as an excuse again!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't.

DEAN: Every time you can't face yourself, you blame it on me!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LANDAU: He played a rebellious kid in "East of Eden," "Rebel" and also in "Giant."

KING: In "Giant."

LANDAU: So it was a time. He was the physicalization of what was going on in this country, in terms of young teenage people.

KING: Liz, why do you think the myth lives?

SHERIDAN: Well, he wanted to see -- he wanted people to see who he was. He wanted to be heard. He wanted to raise his hand and have somebody pick him and say, What do you think? So he wanted to be recognized. So he was willing to turn himself inside out to show people who he was, do you know what I mean?

KING: Uh-huh.

SHERIDAN: And I think that's one of the reasons that the world fell in love with him so, because he was so vulnerable and easy to see. And he's young. He will always be young.

KING: Always be young, like John Kennedy will always be young.

SHERIDAN: So -- you know?

KING: Marcus, and what is that picture behind you?

MARCUS WINSLOW: That's a painting by a friend of mine. He was a fan of Jimmy's. His name is Dave Dicaro (ph), and he's a painter. And one time, he visited Fairmount, and he said he had a painting of Jimmy that he was going to bring next time. And I said, OK. And when he brought it, why, it was this painting of Jimmy and I, sitting on a chair here in the living room.

And that -- it was copied from a picture that was taken by Dennis Stalk (ph) the last time Jimmy was home. Dennis came home with Jimmy, and Dennis was doing some photo shots for "Life" magazine, and he took a lot of photos of Jimmy here in the house and here on the farm and in Fairmount, and he also did several in New York and some on Warner Brothers' lot in California. And he's since published a book with a lot of those photos, and they've appeared in a lot of magazines and other books. And they're some of the best photos of Jimmy, I believe.

KING: Beautiful. Joan, why do you think that that myth lives on?

JOAN WINSLOW: Well, he did such -- he was such a good actor. He was young, and he was so energetic and he was interested in everything. And I think that's part of the reason.

KING: Marcus, why do you think so?

MARCUS WINSLOW: I think people relate to him, Larry.

KING: Yes.

MARCUS WINSLOW: A friend of his just yesterday made the comment, he said, Jimmy wasn't rebel, he was just an outstanding actor that, through his character in "Rebel Without a Cause," he was able to bring a little bit of the rebel out of all of us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEAN: Listen now. Boy, this is going to be one terrific day, so you better live it up because tomorrow you'll be nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARCUS WINSLOW: There have been so many people over the years, from all over the world, that have came here and they talk about Jimmy. And it's really amazing how he has influenced their lives. And a lot of them were -- they felt like they were kind of backwards and didn't want to be in the public, and for some reason, Jimmy brought that out of them. And he inspired them to, you know, make theirself a better person and to do better in life.

KING: I want to thank you both for being with us, sharing this first half hour. Joan Winslow and Marcus Winslow, James Dean's cousins, in Fairmount, Indiana, at the home Jimmy spent a lot of his young life in, a home that Liz Sheridan knows. Thank you very much, Winslows. We really appreciate it. Interesting, seeing that house and that extraordinary picture.

And when we come back, I'll reintroduce the rest of our panel and talk about James Dean's career and some of the things that were controversial about him that don't often get mentioned. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - "REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE")

DEAN: Please lock me up! I'm going to hit somebody. I'm going to do something, and I don't...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Try the desk. Go ahead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEAN: I was out driving tonight, and I was speeding. So a state trooper took out after me. And he started shooting at me, and I just didn't want to stop. But he kept on chasing me. Then I heard the car skid off the road.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He got your license number.

DEAN: It doesn't matter. That trooper's dead. Broke his neck when he went off the side...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chet (ph), no.

DEAN: So I'm going to give myself up. They don't yet know it was me. But I've got to do it. I keep thinking about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will they believe you? Will they believe it was just an accident?

DEAN: I don't know. I think I'll take my chances.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE with the life and times of James Dean.

Liz Sheridan is with us, one-time girlfriend, author of "Dizzy and Jimmy," and best known as Jerry's mom on the smash hit sitcom "Seinfeld." Was also on one of my favorite shows, "ALF."

Martin Landau, the Academy Award winning actor and close friend of Dean's.

Frank Mazzola appeared opposite Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause." Also knew him in "East of Eden," was technical adviser on the film.

Jane Withers, boy, that face is precious, isn't it? One of Dean's costars in the 1956 film "Giant."

And Mark Rydell, director, actor, friend of Dean, starred with him on a dramatic television production in the '50s. Directed and costarred in the special TNT television movie in 2001 about James Dean's life. I didn't Jane and Mark. I didn't ask Jane and Frank, rather, why they think he lives on. Jane?

JANE WITHERS, CO-STARRED WITH DEAN IN "GIANT": He was special. He was very special to young people, and I think he will always be in their hearts and in their minds as long as they live and think about him.

KING: His movies always playing somewhere, right.

WITHERS: I'm sorry.

KING: The movies. The movies are always playing.

WITHERS: Oh, yes. Forever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEAN: I guess you're about the best-looking gal we've seen around here in a long time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FRANK MAZZOLA, CO-STARRED WITH DEAN IN "REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE": I met Elvis over at paramount. And a friend of ours, mutual friend put us together. All he wanted to know is about Jimmy. He was doing Jimmy's dialogue from "Rebel Without a Cause."

KING: Really?

MAZZOLA: And even, in fact, in Nick Ray's book, he talks about when Nick met him that he, again, seemed like he knew the whole script. He knew my dialogue.

But I got the sense that Elvis wanted to be Jimmy in a strange kind of a way, you know, because he was like a kid. You know?

KING: Maybe a lot of people did.

MAZZOLA: But when they were talking about how he influenced everybody, I mean, obviously influenced Presley. I think he influenced the Beatles, Mick Jagger in performances is a picture of Jimmy from "Rebel Without a Cause." I think he turned the country on, as far as youth was concerned.

KING: Did he influence acting?

MARTIN LANDAU, ACTOR AND FRIEND OF JAMES DEAN: Oh, yes.

KING: Yes?

LANDAU: Yes. After Jimmy died, there were a lot of actors looking like Jimmy came to New York. It was an amazing influx of guys who were sitting and behaving as they had seen him on do on -- another person, incidentally, Bob Dylan. When I met Bob Dylan, all he wanted to talk about was Jimmy, knowing that I was a good friend of his. KING: Were you in love with him, Liz?

LIZ SHERIDAN, "DIZZY AND JIMMY" AUTHOR: Yes. Those first loves are a killer, they really are.

KING: Do you think you would have married him?

SHERIDAN: I have no idea. We had -- things were going parallel. They weren't meshing.

It's -- I had the strangest feeling even though I was just 21 that when the -- first we went to Sardi's, the first play I remember we went to that he was in, "See the Jaguar."

And I was sitting at Sardi's with some friends in the back, and Jimmy kept popping up and people kept calling him, you know, opening night. And everybody wanted him and everybody was clawing at him and all kinds of things. And I had a strangest sinking feeling then.

KING: Uh-oh?

SHERIDAN: Well, yes. I also came from an artistic family, and my father went through the door. We never saw him again sort of thing when he became, you know, well known.

KING: Let's discuss something that has to be discussed. Was he also gay?

MARK RYDELL, DIRECTOR, ACTOR, FRIEND OF DEAN: Jimmy was -- I mean, he did everything. I don't think he lived -- he didn't let anything go by. I think that -- I don't think he was essentially homosexual. I think that he had very big appetites, and I think he exercised them.

KING: Drink and drugs, too?

RYDELL: Yes, I'd have to say that, too.

KING: Martin?

LANDAU: I don't think he was gay. I mean...

KING: Bisexual?

LANDAU: Well, I think he was -- as Mark said, experimental. No. He went with Liz. I know Barbara Glen, who he went with, as well. I mean, he was very close to her. I introduced them. And they had a, you know -- I mean, I never saw -- I personally never saw any indication of it. When we were together, we were two guys together, looking at girls, hitting on girls.

KING: Liz?

SHERIDAN: OK. We had met. We fell in love almost immediately. We were on the phone all the time, and said this is stupid. So we got a place to live together in New York, which you didn't do in the '50s, and we didn't care. We did. I mean, I didn't care.

And, one night he was very upset and very quiet, and we spent a lot of time in bed. Not because we just were passionate, which we were. But because it was a nest. It was a comfortable place to be.

And one night he was very upset and said that he had met this guy in Los Angeles who picked him up in a parking lot. He was a big producer. They had met. They had gotten on a train together to go to Chicago.

Jimmy had -- and the word he used was "succumbed," and he knew that he wanted a lot from him. And he was upset about that. So when they were in Chicago, he ran away from him in Chicago, came to New York, lived at the Y, and that's when I first met him. When he had run away from...

KING: How did you take hearing that?

SHERIDAN: I -- I ...

KING: It was the '50s now, right?

SHERIDAN: I know. I didn't know what the hell he was talking about at first. And I asked him to explain, because I just was not -- I'm still not very worldly.

And so, he did explain, and I was angry and called him names. And he called me names, and we slammed doors and ran away from each other.

KING: In retrospect, what was it?

SHERIDAN: Got back together again.

KING: In retrospect, what was it? A fling?

SHERIDAN: No. He had -- he was...

KING: Like Mark says, was he ...

SHERIDAN: Like Mark said, he was curious.

KING: About everything?

SHERIDAN: But he didn't have a huge appetite. He had an interesting appetite to try everything, and he was dared to do a lot of things that he didn't do.

As far as the drugs were concerned, we smoked and we drank. And I don't -- I don't know anything about that.

KING: Jane, what do you think about this?

WITHERS: Oh, pooh. I don't know much about any of that area of Jimmy's life.

KING: Oh, pooh?

WITHERS: Oh, pooh. Yes. Double phooey. No, but we just had a wonderful time sharing together wonderful books that I had read that he hadn't that I thought he should read.

KING: So hearing those kinds of things don't bother you? Or threaten you?

WITHERS: No. I just don't think about them, and it's none of my beeswax anyway. That's the way I look at it.

MAZZOLA: Well, I know...

SHERIDAN: He was a good lover, excuse me.

KING: Oh really? That's good. Thank you.

That's important.

MAZZOLA: He was involved with Gia Angelli (ph), you know.

KING: He was?

SHERIDAN: Oh, yes.

MAZZOLA: And at that time, they had broken up, and I come from a big Italian family. And Jimmy used to like to come over to the house and hang with the family and speak with my grandmother and my mother. But his -- everything I saw, his interests were definitely with women.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more of the fascinating look at an incredible person. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEAN: Oh, yes. Your royal highness, Queen Arlene.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, hello. I don't like to do things like that. Say things like that to me.

DEAN: OK. Everything I do annoys you. I guess you'll be glad to get back to that big city pretty soon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh. You know I'll miss you.

DEAN: I hope so, honey.

I'm going to be there before long anyway.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEAN: Nothing in there at all. Look! It's empty! Look! UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't understand. Why do you carry a briefcase when there's nothing in it?

DEAN: I want to put something inside of it, something I made or something that's mine. You know? I could carry it around, and no one would have to know what was in it, just me and that would -- oh, make me feel so good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: "Forbes" magazine recently listed James Dean among the wealthiest dead celebrities. He still brings in millions of dollars a year. From what?

LANDAU: T-shirts.

SHERIDAN: His talent.

KING: Posters, photographs?

LANDAU: Photographs.

SHERIDAN: Stamps.

LANDAU: Marcus Winslow...

SHERIDAN: The Jimmy Dean stamp.

WITHERS: Marcus is his...

LANDAU: Marcus Winslow is his...

KING: So there's still a growing...

LANDAU: Well, yes.

KING: There's a foundation, right?

LANDAU: There's a foundation, and I think Marcus heads it. Little Marky, who's now big Marky. Yes.

You know, I can't go anywhere in the world. If I'm in Prague, or I mean, there's a T-shirt approaching me and, you know, there's Jimmy frozen in a window, a life-size replica of him, frozen in time. I mean, everywhere in the world.

RYDELL: In Japan, I'm going to tell you, the most popular poster is the poster of Jimmy Dean. And this is 50 years after he died.

KING: Made three movies.

RYDELL: Three movies. Eighteen...

KING: His retrospective takes one day, and you've seen it.

RYDELL: It's astonishing. Isn't it? LANDAU: He did 21 plus television shows. Live TV shows. Lots of interesting stuff. In fact, George Stevens saw him on a show and had him in mind for "Giant" at that point, when hardly anyone knew who he was.

KING: Was he one of the first, Frank, of the Method actors?

MAZZOLA: Yes. I mean, he came out of the same school that Mark did.

KING: Mark, you too?

RYDELL: Yes.

KING: Is that called Method acting?

RYDELL: I would say so. We -- Marty and I ran the actors' studio on the West Coast, and we trained at the actors' studio in New York in that period. That's where I spent a lot of my time.

KING: Was Brando emerging then, too?

RYDELL: Yes. That's right. Brando was on -- He was on Broadway in "Streetcar" at that time.

MAZZOLA: There's one thing. I was with Jimmy. We were up at Villa Du Pris (ph) at the time, and they were previewing "East of Eden." And we were having dinner, and he says, "Let's go down and see what the audience's reaction is."

And kind of pulled his hat down over, you know, had his glasses. Turned his back to the audience as they were coming out. But I saw the audience's reaction, which is the first time he saw an audience on a feature film react to his acting, and it was like when I first saw a Fellini film. I had that kind of stunned look.

But he was like a kid, and I remember we started walking down Hollywood Boulevard. And he said, "It worked."

And I said, "What worked?"

He says, "Back there." He says, "It worked." You know?

So what my -- in working with Jimmy, and I'm sure everybody that's worked with him is aware of this. I always felt like you were in his orbit. You know, there was this energy about him that you couldn't deny. And you know, he controlled the energy, when you're working with him.

KING: Did you like acting with him?

WITHERS: I didn't get to do a scene. He was in the background in the funeral sequence with me. That's the only thing we ever had together. But I'd love to share this with all of you. Because I thought it was so nifty. I -- he would visit the set every time I worked. He just never took his eyes off of me, and he said, "I've got to know, who did you study with?"

I said, "Me? I never had an acting lesson in my life. I started working at 2 1/2 years old, and I just did what came naturally, you know? I just had never studied with anybody." I said, "But I watched you and before you do a scene, you go and you -- like I can see the wheels turning in your mind and you're trying to prepare for your scene."

He said, "You don't do anything."

I said, "Not a cotton picking thing." I just say, "Please God, be with me. I want to do the best job I can, because I love what I'm doing. I'm grateful for the opportunity and I hope they like me."

KING: Did he get along with Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson?

WITHERS: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. He had a good friendship Elizabeth. But who couldn't? She's a nifty, nifty lady. I wish I knew her better. I do.

And Rock was -- oh, I loved him. And he was a -- He was a marvelous human being. I was so grateful for that opportunity.

I had the best year of my life when I did "Giant." And I've got to tell you, at the end of the picture. This is why I still have it today. He asked me to go with him on his fateful trip, the end of his life.

And I said, you know, "I can't do that, Jimmy. I've got three good reasons, Wendy, Bill and Randy." That was my three kids. I said, "You drive too fast, and you scare me to death. I don't take chances that are, to get me..."

KING: Why did you save the shirt?

WITHERS: Well, he brought me the shirt the day before he left.

KING: Before he left?

WITHERS: Yes, sir. Still in a little brown bag. And he gave it to me, said, "Will you keep this for me, please, until I get back?"

And I said, "Oh, you know I will with all my heart. And my prayers and my thoughts will be with you."

KING: We'll take a break. Back with our remaining moments. David Dalton will join us, author of "James Dean, Mutant King." Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELIZABETH TAYLOR, AS LESLIE LYNNTON BENEDICT: When are you going to get married, Jimmy? Don't you need somebody to help you with this kind of responsibility?

DEAN: I don't know. When I get some time to look around. I'll go back East and Maryland, place like that. Say, got any good looking sisters back there might be interested in some poor people?

TAYLOR: Money isn't all, you know, Jimmy.

DEAN: Not when you got it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROCK HUDSON, AS JORDAN 'BICK' BENEDICT: There he is. There's the emperor's son.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We've asked David Dalton to join us in our remaining moments. He's author of "James Dean, Mutant King," which one critic referred to as a spellbinding portrait of James Dean, had a lot of sources and new facts.

From what you've heard tonight, anything surprise you, David?

DAVID DALTON, "JAMES DEAN, MUTANT KING" AUTHOR: Not really. I think that, you know, he's sort of the first pop star. And, if -- you know, in the same way that the Beatles came -- became a huge pop group after JFK's death, I think that James Dean's death brought on rock 'n' roll, really.

He died in September 1955. And in January 1956, Elvis came out with "Heartbreak Hotel," which is really the beginning of rock 'n' roll.

He was the rising star, the heir to Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift. And, you know, he was the first of those actors to totally embrace the movies. He was kind of a pop kid. The first pop idol.

KING: That's a good -- that's a well-defined explanation. David, are you amazed at how the myth continues?

DALTON: Not really. I think, you know, he's sort of like the Abraham Lincoln of adolescence. He's the -- he freed the teens. He portrayed a teenager so realistically that he became the model for all of the pop culture that followed, for Elvis, for the Beatles, for Bob Dylan.

So I think that, you know, he's really at the very beginning of the kind of culture we're still in. It's a sort of a time warp. He seems as timeless, you know, as Elvis or the Beatles, you know, 40 years later.

He's the model for everybody from Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen. Amy Fisher was called the James Dean of Long Island. Bill Clinton.

KING: I guess you could parade them all down. Thank you, David.

David Dalton, who wrote "James Dean, Mutant King."

And I want to thank Liz Sheridan.

By the way, we also want to thank Warner Home Video for allowing us to use clips from those James Dean movies.

Martin Landau, the great actor; Frank Mazzola, Jane Withers and Mark Rydell, the wonderful actor himself and director. And of course, Frank Mazzola, man of many hats. We thank them all for being with us.

Again, James Dean died September 30, 1955, at the age -- he was 24.

I'll be back in a couple of minutes to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Thanks for joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE, a tribute to the life and times of James Dean with an outstanding panel.

We'll be back tomorrow night. Stay tuned for CNN's news coverage, the most trusted name in news. Good night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com




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