Elizabeth Taylor: James Dean Sexually Molested by Minister - Fact or BS?

Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, Giant, George Stevens
Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean in George Stevens' Giant

Elizabeth Taylor died two days ago, her remains were laid to rest yesterday, and a revelation about Taylor's past was made public today. Well, in all truth, the revelation is actually about James Dean's past. Taylor is the alleged vehicle for a story published in The Daily Beast by actor-writer Kevin Sessums, among whose credits are an autobiographical book named Mississippi Sissy and, as an actor, the television miniseries Tales of the City.

Sessums says he learned the following from Taylor during during an interview at her Bel Air home in 1997:

“I loved Jimmy. I'm going to tell you something, but it's off the record until I die. OK? When Jimmy was 11 and his mother passed away, he began to be molested by his minister. I think that haunted him the rest of his life. In fact, I know it did. We talked about it a lot. During Giant we'd stay up nights and talk and talk, and that was one of the things he confessed to me.”

Of course, all the Taylor stories found in The Daily Beast may be true. They've certainly made the rounds online as if they're absolute, indisputable fact. But in the case of James Dean, has anyone else said anything about this matter before? If not, I'd have to wonder why Taylor would have been the only person in the last 55 years to have known about the sexual molestation issue.

Sessums says he has recordings of the Taylor interview, including the off-the-record “outtake” about Dean. Shouldn't those recordings be made public as well so the outtake can be verified as factual?

While doing research on Ramon Novarro for my book Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramon Novarro, one thing that I learned rather quickly is that unless you have some kind of evidence or strong corroboration for a story, the story in question should never be bandied about as fact. I had to be extra careful, as Novarro himself had been a victim of absurd tall tales following his “scandalous” death in 1968.

Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo, George Cukor, Cary Grant, Rock Hudson and others have had books written about them featuring “conversations” and “interviews” that never actually took place. But since they were dead, there was nothing that could be done about it.

Recordings or no recordings, expect more Elizabeth Taylor “revelations” to be announced in the future.

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