I really missed that one. He was a complete asshole. So we spent time talking about that. Ed was a very desperate guy. Johnny Depp played it as this very cool, almost nonchalant, humorous kind of guy. But Ed was extremely neurotic and intense. So intense he would seem to tremor all over while he was talking.
He was a strange man. I just felt so sorry for him when his whole thing went down the tubes. He was a very talented man, yet his talents were never really developed. The things he wrote, they really sucked. The movies he made They just keep eating until they get ahead.
What drew you to writing these books? My dad being a policeman, being raised in LA in a certain time, early detective magazines talking about bathtub murders and such. I was always fascinated by that, by the psychology of the killer. The Manson thing carried me further into that.
I felt there was something very special about her. It was like we were two store window mannequins, waiting for someone to put us in different postures. You tell the story of Barbara Payton, who seemed to leap from starring roles to skid row with frightening quickness. Just being a loudmouth monster half the time. That remained one of her problems. She allowed herself to be manipulated, and then would find herself in situations that were extremely difficult.
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He knew how to work that angle. A meaningless kind of bouncing that took her nowhere finally. I mean, what kind of game are we playing? She was continually in this kind of situation, and that, to me, is extremely self-destrucvtive.
And he rubs her out, and makes this ritual statement by sawing her in two. How long did it take you to research Severed? Years would pass when nothing happened, and then suddenly something connects. When I was living in Louisiana I used to travel to Texas a lot, to see one of the major detectives that worked the case, Finnis Brown.
They wanted Georgette to be this clean, nice girl. Then he came to Hollywood, and from there manipulated his way into everything he ever did. He married Neile Adams, a dancer. How did he seem to you? I disliked McQueen from the first time I met him on 14th Street. It makes more room for me. Diane would tell me how he would stand in front of the mirror trying to imitate Jimmy and doing everything he could to be like him.
I think his face sold it a little, but he was always too macho in a way that made his masculinity seem like a put-on. It was definitely fake. He just kept living that role.
John Gilmore enjoying a nice slice and cup of joe at his local diner in LA. Dennis McNally. Anne Hathaway Unauthorized Biography. From Stage to Screen. Tom Davis.
The way he got reassurance, I guess, was by balling every girl he could find. He bought this Ferrari and would park it right in front of the door. People coming from the parking lot would have to walk around it to get in. Everyone would be forced to notice that Steve McQueen was there.
Including you. I was there once when I was seeing Jean Seberg, and he was a couple of tables away just staring at her. He wants to fuck me or something. When I first interviewed you years ago, you told me that he was the last guy you ever expected to make it. How do you think he succeeded against the odds? Jack did anything [to get ahead].
In the 60s, when New York actors were coming to Hollywood, for them it was like going to the dump or something. Jack was from here. He was part of a little group with Warren Oates; Jack just wormed his way in somehow. He had a strong woman behind him, too. He was married to [actress] Sandra Knight for a long time, and she would help steer him. But it was strange, he never introduced her at all. He was falling-down drunk one time on Melrose, and Wild Bill Elliott and I took him home to her little house by Gardner.
I went and knocked on the door, and she came out. That was the only time I ever had an interaction with her.
Everything is such a secret in Hollywood. I respect you for disregarding that. Jimmy would get really depressed at times. A beautiful Colt Peacemaker. He was practicing because he was right-handed and was going to do a movie called The Left-Handed Gun , about Billy the Kid. I understood what he meant. He had just made East of Eden , which would have been the dream of any young male actor in creation. At that time, Elia Kazan was like the god of directors, and this was a major Steinbeck movie with an incredible cast.
And it was the first picture Jimmy did with a major starring role. Where do you go from there?
Going slowly downhill. Eventually he would have killed himself in some way. I read a few biographies of James Dean before reading yours. But you were his friend, which gives your book the ring of truth. When I got to the section where you describe yourself—a straight young guy—being sexually seduced by him, it was like a lightning bolt.
I knew this guy named Jack Simmons from way back, long before I ever went to New York in the 50s, and he was an intelligent and decent person in a lot of ways, but an oddball guy. Very fruity. I remember we were at a drive-in one night. I stayed there for a while and then finally came back to LA. And I was very surprised that he was with Jack Simmons. James Dean had become everything to Jack Simmons.
Jack had wormed his way into Warner Brothers to meet, attract, and stalk him. And Jimmy really was a very isolated person. He loathed going places and being in public. He was a real loner.
So it was gorgeous. Jack was the perfect friend. Even though I indicated that he was bisexual [in the biography The Real James Dean ], and everybody hated me for it.