JAMES DEAN, American actor, died in a car crash (b. 1931); Today, Dean is often considered an icon because of his “experimental” take on life, which included his ambivalent and fluid sexuality.
There have been several accounts of Dean’s sexual relationships with both men and women. William Bast was one of Dean’s closest friends, a fact acknowledged by Dean’s family. Dean’s first biographer (1956), Bast was his roommate at UCLA and later in New York, and knew Dean throughout the last five years of his life. Bast has recently published a revealing update of his first book, in which, after years of successfully dodging the question as to whether he and Dean were sexually involved, he has finally admitted that they were.
In this second book Bast describes the difficult circumstances of their involvement and deals frankly with some of Dean’s other Gay relationships, notably the actor’s friendship with Rogers Brackett, the influential producer of radio dramas who encouraged Dean in his career and provided him with useful professional contacts. Journalist Joe Hyams suggested that any homosexual acts Dean might have involved himself in appear to have been strictly “for trade,” as a means of advancing his career.