TIME People

What Price Fame: James Dean Was “Barely a Celebrity” Before He Died

James Dean advice
From the Sept. 3, 1956, issue of TIME TIME

Sept. 30, 1955: James Dean is killed in a California car crash

James Dean’s career picked up considerably after he died.

The budding film star was killed on this day, Sept. 30, in 1955 after crashing his Porsche Spyder en route to a road race in Salinas, Calif., in which he was scheduled to compete. Just 24, he was “barely a celebrity” at the time, according to a 1956 story in TIME, which went on to report that within a year of his death he had gained more popularity than most living actors. Magazine and book publishers looking to memorialize the enigmatic icon were preparing “to jump aboard the bandwagon that looks disconcertingly like a hearse,” the piece proclaimed.

When he died, Dean had acted in only three movies: East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant, only one of which had yet been released. He had worked his way up from smaller to larger roles: from appearing in a Pepsi commercial to working as a “test pilot” for stunts on a TV game show called Beat the Clock — a sort of precursor to Minute to Win It in which contestants competed in absurd timed challenges — to a well-reviewed role as a young gigolo in a Broadway adaptation of Andre Gide’s The Immoralist.

After he died, though, his fame reached new heights. By September of 1956, TIME noted Deans’ bewildering ascent to Hollywood superstardom:

Today he ranks No. 1 in Photoplay’s actor popularity poll, draws 1,000 fan letters a week (“Dear Jimmy: I know you are not dead”) at Warner’s — more than any live actor on the lot. Marveled one West Coast cynic: “This is really something new in Hollywood — boy meets ghoul.” Hollywood’s explanation: Dean not only appeals to a “mother complex” among teenage girls, but his roles as a troubled insecure youth prompted many young movie fans to identify with him.

Business types were eager to cash in on his posthumous popularity. In 1956, the story continued, Dean was still “haunting” newsstands with “four fast-selling magazines devoted wholly to him.”

He hasn’t stopped earning since. Forbes reported that in 2000, Dean’s estate raked in $3 million, very little of which took the form of royalties from his three films. Most came instead from licensing and merchandizing: “The rebellious heartthrob currently hawks everything from Hamilton watches, Lee Jeans, and Franklin Mint collectibles to cards by American Greetings, funneling funds to James Dean Inc., which is run by cousin Marcus Winslow.”

One of the many teenage girls pining for the departed heartthrob wrote to the advice columnist Dorothy Dix in the year after Dean’s death, lamenting, “I am 15 and in love. The problem is that I love the late James Dean. I don’t know what to do.” Dix advised her that time would lessen the sting of love and loss. In this case, however, the platitude’s been proved not entirely true: more than half a century on, society’s love for the late James Dean is still going strong.

Read about James Dean’s legacy here, in TIME’s archives: Dean of the One-Shotters

TIME Media

Read a Stunningly Frank 1948 TIME Letter On Truman Capote and Sexuality

Truman Capote With His Dog
Truman Capote with his dog in 1950 Mondadori / Getty Images

The author was unafraid of being frank about his homosexuality, but it made TIME uncomfortable

When Breakfast at Tiffany’s author Truman Capote died in 1984, TIME’s obituary remarked that he was famous “for his lyrical, funny and gothic” writing, and for being “as much a member of the glitterati as the literati.” When his posthumously published Answered Prayers came out in 1987, the magazine wrote that he had been “on his way to a spectacular best seller, an irresistible piece of malicious mischief.”

But this magazine wasn’t always so kind to Capote, who would have celebrated his 90th birthday this Sept. 30.

When Other Voices Other Rooms, the novel that made his name, was published in 1948, the review was skeptical of the publishing-world brouhaha that had surrounded its release, and somewhat harsh to its author. He was probably “safe from smothering in laurels,” wrote TIME’s critic, because the book was merely “a literary contrivance of unusual polish.” And the critic didn’t stop at that. The following letter, which shines a light on the magazine’s practices of the era, appeared in the Feb. 16, 1948, issue in response to that review:

Sir:

You seem to advocate tolerance for the customary things discriminated against: race, color, creed, religion, etc. However, I do not believe you have ever made a reference to homosexuality (a perfectly legitimate psychological condition) without going specially out of your way to make a vicious insinuation, caustic remark, or “dirty dig.”

Your review of Truman Capote‘s Other Voices Other Rooms (TIME, Jan. 26) concludes . . . : “For all his novel’s gifted invention and imagery, the distasteful trappings of its homosexual theme overhang it like Spanish moss.”

I have seen a great deal of Spanish moss in a lot of places . . . and I must confess that some of it is quite beautiful. . . .

R. E. BERG

San Francisco, Calif.

The editor’s response? “It gives TIME the creeps. — ED.”

The tone of that snarky retort, and of the review itself, has faded into history, as has that attitude toward homosexuality. TIME’s Letters section is now generally snark-free, the magazine’s review of a 1988 biography of Capote called Other Voices Other Rooms “well written and convincingly atmospheric, with no word out of place” — and recent TIME covers have featured prominent LGBTQ activists and issues.

Truman Capote is still noted as having been ahead of his time in his openness about his own sexuality. R.E. Berg, in his or her willingness to speak up for that openness, remains noteworthy too.

Read TIME’s original review of Breakfast at Tiffany’s here, in the archives: Bad Little Good Girl

TIME People

See the First Pictures of Chelsea Clinton’s New Baby

Chelsea Clinton gave birth to a newborn baby girl, she announced Saturday morning. Here, see tiny Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky, the world’s newest Clinton, meet her parents and grandparents for the first time.

TIME People

Bruce Jenner Was ‘The World’s Greatest Athlete’

Bruce Jenner
From the Aug. 9, 1976, issue of TIME TIME

Kris Jenner has filed for divorce, but her future ex-husband has something no one can take away

Kris Jenner, matriarch of the Kardashian clan, has officially filed for divorce from husband Bruce Jenner, after decades of marriage and about a year of separation.

But don’t be too sad for the Keeping Up with the Kardashians stars: she’s got her momager empire to keep her busy, and he’s got his Olympic memories. Though she’s a much bigger presence in the reality-television world for which they’re best known these days, we would like to take this opportunity to remind readers that he was a celebrity first — and not just a celebrity. In the Aug. 9, 1976, issue of TIME, the Olympic athlete was lauded as the greatest sportsman on Earth:

Cheered on by a wildly whooping and whistling crowd of 70,000, the United States’ Bruce Jenner grimaced his way across the finish line late last Friday afternoon to claim the one Olympic honor more precious than gold: the title of “the world’s greatest athlete.”

With the waning light shining on his flapping chestnut hair, the beautifully sculpted Jenner had powered his way through the 1,500 meters, the last of the ten labors that make up the taxing, two-day decathlon competition. Too uproariously happy to notice that he had left several contestants crumpled about him in pain on the track, Jenner jogged, danced and leaped through his victory lap. Then embracing his tearfully grinning wife Chrystie, he exulted: “It’s all over. We did it!” With the single-minded ambition that distinguishes Olympic champions—a characteristic that the two-week extravaganza in Montreal brought vividly to an audience of a billion people—the 26-year-old Jenner had achieved a goal set four years ago at Munich: that he would beat Soviet Champion Nikolai Avilov in 1976.

A fierce beating it was. By the end of the first day, the only question that remained was by how much Jenner would break Avilov’s world record of 8,454. The powerfully built (6 ft. 2 in., 195 lb.) Jenner had run faster, thrown farther and jumped higher and longer than ever in his life. “I’m sitting pretty,” he said, with typical elan. “All I have to do is show up tomorrow.”

Jenner and his wife Chrystie separated in 1979.

Read more about Bruce Jenner’s Olympic glory here, in TIME’s archives: The Decathlon: Ten Tests for Two

TIME People

Bill Clinton Drops a Hint About Chelsea’s Due Date

Clinton Global Citizen Awards at 2014 Clinton Global Initiative
Chelsea Clinton, US Vice Chairman of the Clinton Foundation, walks onto the stage to make a presentation during the Clinton Global Citizen Awards presentations at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City on Sept. 21, 2014. Ray Stubblebine—EPA

The baby should be arriving in early October

President Bill Clinton is really looking forward to next week. Because by that time, he told CNN, he may be welcoming his first grandchild into the world.

“I hope by the first of October, I’ll be a grandfather,” Clinton said in an interview that aired Sunday. “I can’t wait.”

Chelsea Clinton announced her pregnancy in April, which should make her about eight months along if she followed the typical rule of waiting three months before sharing her pregnancy. Both the former President and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said they are on “baby watch” over the weekend, in anticipation of their first grandchild. During a speech at the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Forum on Friday, Clinton said she had been “thinking a lot about family because you know I’m on grandbaby watch.”

The Clintons will be in for another surprise when the baby finally arrives: Chelsea and her husband have opted against learning the sex of the baby before it’s born.

“They want to be surprised,” Bill Clinton said.

[CNN]

TIME People

Former IRS Official Says Politics Didn’t Affect Her Work

IRS'S Lerner Invokes Her Constitutional Right To Silence
Lois Lerner, the director of the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) exempt organizations office, listens during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in Washington on May 22, 2013. Bloomberg/Getty Images

Lois Lerner spoke out for the first time since a scandal led to outrage from Tea Party groups

The IRS official at the center of a scandal over alleged targeting of conservative groups says in a new interview that her personal political leanings never impacted her work.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Lois Lerner told Politico in an interview published Monday, her first since the scandal broke more than a year ago. “I’m proud of my career and the job I did for this country.”

Lerner was drummed out of the agency and became a lightning rod for conservative criticism after reports detailed how the tax agency gave extra scrutiny to conservative political groups seeking nonprofit, tax-exempt status. Later reports showed liberal groups were also given extra scrutiny, but the issue quickly became a political headache for the Obama Administration.

Congressional Republicans investigating the matter have accused Lerner of letting her liberal political leanings influence her work, but she was unapologetic in the interview.

“What matters is that my personal opinions have never affected my work,” Lerner said.

She again denied being involved in a cover-up by destroying emails saying, “How would I know two years ahead of time that it would be important for me to destroy emails, and if I did know that, why wouldn’t I have destroyed the other ones they keep releasing?”

[Politico]

TIME People

10 Years Later: Britney Spears and Kevin Federline’s Wedding Planner Reflects

Britney Spears wedding
People

Britney and Kevin were married September 18, 2004, in their wedding planner's Studio City home. For Alyson Fox, that day lives on in memory.

In case you wanted proof of your waning youth, Thursday marks the 10th anniversary of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline’s wedding — a day when a promising young pop star and a dude nicknamed “Meat Pole” decided to throw caution to the wind and say “I do.”

“Ten years — it totally freaks me out,” says wedding planner Alyson Fox, reflecting on the September 18, 2004, nuptials. The day marked Fox’s first (and only) celebrity wedding. While it was originally planned as a big October wedding at the Bacara in Santa Barbara, things rapidly changed after the paparazzi figured out the date and location. Fox was left with about 10 days to organize a completely new, surprise wedding — and, not trusting any other venue to keep the secret, she held it at her own house.

Most Britney fans probably don’t celebrate her short-lived marriage’s anniversary; some even see it as a key moment in a downward spiral from which she has only recently recovered. Still, though Britney filed for divorce in 2006, Fox holds that marriage dear.

TIME spoke to Fox about the whirlwind wedding, young love and the groomsmens’ infamous white Juicy velour “pimp” tracksuits.

TIME: Britney and Kevin Federline’s engagement was huge. Did you think that this would be one of the biggest weddings-
Alyson Fox: —of my career? Yes, I mean, she is Britney Spears. I first interviewed with Felicia, her assistant for years, and I didn’t know who I was meeting with, just that it was a VIP… I met Britney and her mom the next day and they all couldn’t be nicer. The sweetest. I mean they’re from the South. Britney’s so polite, she kept calling me Miss Alyson, and I was like, ‘Oh my God don’t do that; that makes me feel old.’

And then you met Kevin.
They were like any young couple. Very much in love, very touchy feely.

What was the original wedding going to be like?
They came up with a list of 200 to 250 people, and we thought the Bacara would be great. We were designing the most beautiful but not over the top, elegant but shabby chic, gorgeous but fun event… It was a really fun experience. I have not one negative thing to say until we had to move the whole wedding.

So what happened?
A publication printed the location and date of the wedding. I got a call from a very unhappy Kevin. [Unhappy at the situation not her.] Even though I told them that we had the best security team and it could still go on without a hitch, they didn’t want 100 million people standing outside trying to take pictures, ruining the intimacy and privacy of that event. So we had to go to Plan B, and we had to do it fast.

You had a “Plan B”?
Well, we planned it in 10 days or less… Everything was already in the works, Monique Lhuillier was making all the gowns that were basically ready, all the vendors were in place for the big wedding — we just didn’t have a location. In that week we decided we can’t do it at a hotel, we can’t do a venue because people were going to know. We limited the guest list to the two families and the wedding party, and then we talked to Britney and Kevin about doing a surprise wedding. Nobody would know.

Not even Britney’s mom?
No. Nobody knew… We told everyone and our vendors we were having an engagement party. We tried to use every vendor we could who was going to help at the wedding.

And you would throw it at your house in Studio City?
Well, their place wasn’t ready yet… The vendors made the house look stunning. It was so beautiful. I only wish they could have had more people… Every person who walked in that night, we handed then an invitation, they opened it up and it said “surprise!” you are here for the wedding and not the engagement party. And we would direct them to the room where they would change into their gowns and tuxedos…

Tuxedos? I thought the men were wearing those white Juicy velour jumpsuits…
No! That’s what they left the house in. They were in tuxedos and gowns. Everybody made such a big deal about that, but that’s what Juicy did for every celebrity who got married. They’d send them the cute little tracksuits. I asked Britney and Kevin what they wanted printed on the back, and Britney said, “Maids! Maids will be cute!” And it was. It was cute! And he said “Pimps” which was adorable… People are closed-minded. It was a joke, it was for fun. It was Juicy tracksuits! 10 years ago people would have given anything for a Juicy tracksuit.

You must not have gotten a lot of sleep that week.
Oh I didn’t sleep that week. And I didn’t sleep the week after, because there were all these stories going on [at the time] that they weren’t really married, and all this B.S. People are going to think what they’re going to think, but I know the truth. They were wonderful people and I’ll say that until the day I die. To this day I don’t talk to a lot of people about it because I still feel protective over them. Unfortunately it didn’t work out — but what is it, 60% of marriages that don’t?

Read TIME’s 1999 profile of Britney Spears here, in the archives: A Sweet Sensation

TIME Education

The MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grants: How They Started

MacArthur Grant
From the June 1, 1981, issue of TIME TIME

Early recipients thought it was a practical joke

The Wednesday announcement of this year’s recipients of the MacArthur Foundation “genius grants” was big news for cartoonist Alison Bechdel, activist Ai-jen Poo, filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer and the 18 other men and women the Foundation had selected. Each will receive a stipend of $625,000 over five years, with no strings attached.

To be named a MacArthur fellow is, these days, to receive one of the most prestigious honors out there. The rules are both vague and broad—all residents or citizens of the U.S. who don’t hold government offices are in the running, and the nomination process is hush-hush—but any artist, scholar or otherwise talented or creative person would be overjoyed to receive the fateful call from the foundation.

In 1981, however, the situation was a little different. For the first round of recipients, who included physicist Stephen Wolfram and author Robert Penn Warren, being told they’d get hundreds of thousands of dollars was a little harder to believe. (The prize amount was around $250,000 at the time, with the exact amount given each year determined by the age of the recipient.) Giving away such a huge amount of money, with no application process and expecting nothing in return, was unheard-of in the grant-giving world.

So where did such a wacky idea—and the money to make it happen—come from?

Here’s how TIME explained it in a June 1, 1981, article about the “new talent search begun by Chicago’s John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation” that aimed to find “creative people and [help] them to make ‘discoveries or other significant contributions to society'”:

The 2½-year-old MacArthur Foundation is the creation of the late John D. MacArthur, an eccentric who became a billionaire in the insurance business. With assets estimated at $862 million, the foundation is the nation’s fourth largest, surpassing Rockefeller, Carnegie and Sloan, trailing only the Ford, Robert Wood Johnson and Andrew W. Mellon foundations. The rationale for the no-string fellowships is the argument that important breakthroughs in the past have been the work of lone geniuses devoid of grantsmanship. Said Foundation Director J. Roderick MacArthur, 60, John’s son, in accepting the proposal: “My father believed in the individual as opposed to the institution. This captures that spirit—the risky betting on individual explorers while everybody else is playing it safe on another track.”

And what did the Foundation expect to come of it? For the majority of recipients, merely to honor their talent—on the off chance that a minority would do something more with it, explained Roderick MacArthur: “If only a handful produce something of importance—whether it be a work of art or a major breakthrough in the sciences—it will have been worth the risk.”

Read the full 1981 article here, in TIME’s archive: Prizes With No Strings Attached

TIME People

Prince Harry and the Press: A Brief History

Prince Harry Announcement
From the Oct. 1, 1984, issue of TIME TIME

Sept. 15, 1984: Prince Harry is born

Born the spare to the British monarchy’s heir, Prince Harry has always faced less pressure to be proper than his older brother has. But when Harry — more formally, Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales — was born on this day in 1984, no one could have predicted the extent to which he would become the royal family’s wild child.

On his 30th birthday, Harry can celebrate the many hijinks that have garnered him headlines over the years, including:

Jan. 2002: Quick Trip to Rehab

The royal family reveals that Harry spent a day at a London rehab center after admitting to his father that he had been smoking pot and drinking to excess. Police were even called to a bar where Harry was drinking with friends after he became belligerent and called a French employee a “f***ing frog.” Charles picked a clinic that caters to heroin addicts for an impromptu “scared straight” program, hoping to shock the 17-year-old prince into cleaning up his act.

Jan. 2005: Nazi Garb

Harry is photographed wearing a swastika armband while dressed as a member of Hitler’s Afrika Korps at a colonial-themed costume party, prompting a public outcry and calls for him to be stripped of his position at the Royal Military Academy. Prince William also attends the party, although photos of his costume fail to make a splash: He’s dressed as a lion.

Jan. 2009: Racist Remarks

A video is leaked of the prince making off-color comments about fellow military academy cadets. Another segment shows the prince in combat gear and camo face paint holding a cellphone in one hand and a cigarette in the other, pretending to end a phone call with the Queen. “Send my love to the corgis and grandpa,” he says. “God save you.”

Aug. 2011: Pool Party

On break from training as an Apache helicopter pilot, Harry lets off steam at a Croatian nightclub, where he jumps into a pool fully clothed, pulls himself out and continues to dance, barefoot and soaked, to house music.

Aug. 2012: Naked Billiards

The prince loses a game of “strip billiards” in Las Vegas — and TMZ publishes the pictures to prove it.

May 2014: Look-alike Drama

The reality show I Wanna Marry “Harry” premieres in the U.S. Although technically not in any way the prince’s fault, the show, in which twelve women compete for a proposal from a Harry impersonator, is terrible. It’s canceled after only four episodes; a reviewer for The Telegraph calls it “fodder for the braindead.” The fake Prince Harry, the reviewer complains, “wasn’t a wild or weird enough character to carry the show.”

The real Harry, one imagines, wouldn’t have had any trouble at all.

Read more about Prince Harry here, in TIME’s archives: Once Upon a Time, There Was a Pot-Smoking Prince

TIME Style

Jackie Kennedy’s Wedding Dress Almost Didn’t Make It to the Ceremony

JFK Wedding Announcement
The Kennedy wedding announcement in the Sept. 21, 1953, issue of TIME TIME

Sept. 12, 1953: John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier wed in Newport

Before feeling the glare of the spotlight as First Lady, Jacqueline Bouvier shone in the society pages as the beautiful debutante daughter of an elite New England family. She was already a tastemaker with a reputation for “devil-may-care chic,” although it would be a few years before her every fashion statement was scrutinized on a national level, and before she would feel stung by a housewife’s comment in the New York Times Magazine that she looked “too damn snappy.”

But when the 24-year-old left behind a job as a photographer for the Washington Post and Times-Herald to marry the 36-year-old freshman Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, she wore a wedding dress she found neither chic nor snappy, according to the book What Jackie Taught Us. The ball gown, with a portrait neckline and a wide bouffant skirt adorned with wax flowers, bundled Jackie’s thin frame in 50 yards of ivory silk taffeta. She had wanted a simple dress with sleek, straight lines, but bowed to family pressure to wear something more traditional, despite thinking it looked like a lampshade.

When she wed John F. Kennedy on this day in 1953, she almost didn’t get to wear the dress after all. A week before the ceremony — at a Newport, R.I., Catholic church where the Archbishop of Boston led Mass and delivered a personal blessing from the Pope — Jackie’s dress and her bridesmaids’ pink taffeta gowns were drenched when a pipe burst in the designer’s New York studio. Designer Ann Lowe and her team worked around the clock to reproduce the wedding dress, which had originally taken eight weeks to cut and sew. They finished just in time, and the gown had its intended effect, stunning crowds at the ceremony and the reception, as well as readers of LIFE Magazine, which ran three pages of photos from the event.

According to the magazine’s 1953 story, “The Senator Weds: Young John F. Kennedy takes pretty photographer for bride,” the couple radiated an air of royalty:

Outside (the church), 2,000 society fans, some come to Newport by chartered bus, cheered the guests and the newlyweds as they left the church. There were 900 guests at the reception and it took Senator and Mrs. Kennedy two hours to shake their hands. The whole affair, said one enthusiastic guest, was “just like a coronation.”

Read a 1961 profile of the First Lady here, in TIME’s archives: Jackie

 

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