The American Teenager: Natalie Wood

“Rebel Without a Cause” defined both popular and youth culture upon its release in 1955, giving voice to the American teenager of the 1950’s. Even though Wood has starred in 20 films before turning 16, she is desperate to transition to adult roles. She sees the part of Judy as her ticket into adulthood. Complicating matters is that every actress from Debbie Reynolds to Jayne Mansfield is being considered for the role. Wood's mother pushes her into "dating" the 44-year-old "Rebel" director, Nicholas Ray - her mother waits in the car during Wood and Ray's romps at the Chateau Marmont. Sleeping with the director doesn't even work! It's not until a drunken car crash on Laurel Canyon with Dennis Hopper that Ray to cast considers Wood for the role. Ray visits Wood at the hospital, where the doctor calls Wood a "goddamn juvenile delinquent." Wood yells: "Did you hear what he called me, Nick? He called me a goddamn juvenile delinquent! Now do I get the part?" Wood deserves the credit for transforming Ray’s vision of Wood’s character Judy from a trashy teen to a confused, hurt kid like Wood herself.

Screen Shot 2018-10-17 at 8.07.27 PM.png

Deathiversary: The Gene Krupa Story

Gene Krupa is a famous jazz drummer, bandleader, actor, and composer. Krupa is known for his energetic style and showmanship. His drum solo on "Sing, Sing, Sing" elevated the role of the drummer as a frequently used solo voice in the band. He is also known for defining the standard drum kit used today. Sal Mineo stars as Krupa in the 1959 biopic "The Gene Krupa Story." Krupa himself plays the drums on the soundtrack for the film, and for the sequences in which Mineo, as Gene, plays the drums. In 1943, Krupa is arrested for possession of two marijuana cigarettes. He is charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and is given a 90-day jail. He serves 84 days of the sentence. In the early 1970s, Krupa's house in Yonkers, New York, is damaged by fire, but he continues to live in the parts of the house that were habitable. On October 16, 1973, Krupa dies in Yonkers at the age 64 from heart failure, though he also had leukemia and emphysema. In 1978, Krupa becomes the first drummer inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame. Sal Mineo dies in 1976 when he is stabbed to death in the alley behind his apartment building near the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, CA. Mineo is stabbed just once, but the knife blade strikes his heart, leading to immediate and fatal internal bleeding. Before the New Beverly closed for remodeling, my husband and I got a chance to watch "The Gene Krupa Story" on the big screen. It was less than a week after I had finished my first zine: Dead in Hollywood: Sal Mineo (Issue 1). The manager was nice enough to let me leave a stack of my zines in the lobby next to postcards of Sal.

Sal Mineo: The First Gay Teenager

Sal Mineo's character in the 1955 teensploitation flick, "Rebel Without a Cause," is considered by many to be the first gay teenager in a motion picture. In a 1972 interview, Sal Mineo is one of the first actors to discuss his sexuality publicly, coming out as bisexual. In 1976, with Sal's career starting to turn around - thanks in part to the role of a bisexual burglar in the play "P.S. Your Cat is Dead" - he is murdered returning home from play rehearsals. Instead of finding Sal's killer, the police focus instead on Mineo's sex life. For all these reasons and more, I am working on "Sal Mineo: The First Gay Teenager" zine. It will focus on the largely forgotten contributions Sal Mineo made to the LGBTQ cause and I will cover the homophobia surrounding his death. I will be releasing this issue at the San Fernando Valley zine fest on September 29. 

Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 8.29.53 PM.png