Dizzy and Jimmy: My Life with James Dean: A Love Story

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A long time ago, when I was a young dancer in New York City, I fell in love with Jimmy Dean and he fell in love with me.
So begins the beguiling memoir of Liz "Dizzy" Sheridan's passionate yet ill-fated affair with the young, magnetic, soon-to-be supernova James Dean. Dean had recently arrived seeking Broadway stardom. Sheridan was a beautiful aspiring dancer. They met one rainy afternoon and soon were inseparable, living together in the colorful atmosphere of early-50's ...
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A long time ago, when I was a young dancer in New York City, I fell in love with Jimmy Dean and he fell in love with me.
So begins the beguiling memoir of Liz "Dizzy" Sheridan's passionate yet ill-fated affair with the young, magnetic, soon-to-be supernova James Dean. Dean had recently arrived seeking Broadway stardom. Sheridan was a beautiful aspiring dancer. They met one rainy afternoon and soon were inseparable, living together in the colorful atmosphere of early-50's bohemian New York. They were even engaged. But when Dean found success, he was lured to Hollywood, and the lovers parted amid tears and broken dreams—dreams that would be dashed forever when Dean died in a car crash in 1955, shortly after seeing Dizzy for the last time.

Dizzy & Jimmy marks the first time Liz Sheridan has written about this poignant romance. She captures not only the unforgettable charisma of the vibrant young actor who would soon become an icon of American teenage rebellion—but also the magic of a different, more idealistic age. Filled with never-before-told stories and intimate insights into the star of East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause, Dizzy & Jimmy promises to captivate fans—and, perhaps, surprise viewers most familiar with Sheridan as the actress who played Jerry Seinfeld's mother on the series Seinfeld

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Editorial Reviews

Chicago Tribune
A precious clue for anyone who has wondered at the staying power of the Dean myth.
Buffalo News
Details lovingly rendered, keep ‘Dizzy & Jimmy' from being just another celebrity tell-all.
Washington Post
Charming...told with bittersweet affection.
New York Post
Genuinely rendered. Should appeal...to the most incurable romantic.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Sheridan, best known as Jerry Seinfeld's TV mother, reveals her love affair with James Dean in a brief book replete with moony dialogue, prescient remarks about Dean's driving habits and a 1950s New York setting. The effervescent Sheridan, known as Dizzy, was a dancer living in a theater district residence hall for aspiring actresses when she met the 21-year-old Dean, an Indiana farm boy who had come to New York via Hollywood. Their instant attraction was soon consummated. Sheridan portrays Dean as a sometimes corny romantic, who immediately began talking about being "together forever" and who needed "always to touch and be touched." While Dizzy managed to work, dancing in nightclubs all over New York or in summer stock musicals, Jimmy was either more unlucky or more choosy, and brooded over his disappointments. Though she touches on Dean's moody episodes and regular, unexplained disappearances, as well as his disclosure of a homosexual liaison with a California producer helpful to his career, Sheridan doesn't claim that her memoir is a complete account of Dean's New York years. (For example, there's no mention of his acceptance into the Actors Studio in November 1951.) When Dean was cast in a bound-for-Broadway production, he moved easily away from Sheridan. Dean got enthusiastic notices in See the Jaguar, although the play closed in a few days, and the affair never rekindled. Sheridan's feelings for Dean, her pain upon their separation and on his untimely death a few years later, are sweetly rendered and seem genuine, although the details are filtered though a romanticized lens. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Two love stories. One funny and sweet. One curious but poignant. Both authors linked by a coincidence: they were both characters on the TV sitcom Seinfeld. Before Stiller played George Costanza's father on Seinfeld, he was one half of the comedy team Stiller and Meara, a successful collaboration, in part because Anne Meara was his wife. This is not only the story of Stiller's rise from poverty to become a successful actor and comedian but also the story of a "showbiz" marriage, the unlikely pairing of a Jewish boy and an Irish girl who struggled to stay together for over 30 years. It's a very straightforward memoir with lots of insider, "showbizzy" anecdotes. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780783893655
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 4/28/2001
  • Series: G. K. Hall Nonfiction Series
  • Pages: 341
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.48 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Liz Sheridan is perhaps best known today for her role as Jerry Seinfeld's mother, Helen, on the landmark television series Seinfeld, and as the eccentric neighbor Mrs. Ochmonek on Alf. She is a veteran stage actress with featured roles in eight Broadway shows. Married to jazz musician Dale Wales, Sheridan lives in Studio City, California.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

It was the fall of 1951. I awoke on one of those iron gray mornings when the blues tugged at me like a bad memory rolling around in my thoughts, refusing to fade. It had been raining off and on since the night before. I never wake up singing, but on this morning I was positively glum and a little frayed around the edges. I felt like staying in bed all day.

I thought I heard someone at the door. I was still a little groggy with sleep, trying to pull myself awake. What's that noise? I finally realized that what I heard wasn't at the door but at the window. Across the room rain was splattering against the glass panes. A torrent of rain. Hard and heavy. Crawling out from under the covers, I padded over to take a look, only to stub my toe on the foot of the bed.

"Ouch. Son of — God damn it!"

I grabbed my foot and began hopping around, trying to get my balance. The noise woke up Larri, who was trying to sleep in after a late night.

"SHUT UP, DIZZY!" she yelled.

That woke up Ann, who always slept late. She made a noise — some sort of mumblelogue — rolled over and went back to sleep.

Larri Thomas and Ann Chisholm were my roommates. All of us were dancers, which I suppose is why Miss Carleton placed us together. Larri was blond, stunning, a lot of fun-a true gypsy. She got jobs on Broadway all the time. Ann was very tall, with heavy lips and a strong body. An extreme narcissist. She loved to look into the mirror, pouting and stroking herself slowly. Slowness was her whole style. She chewed slowly, exercised slowly, and spoke slowly. She claimed a slow metabolism, though as far as I could tell she was just an hourand a half behind the rest of us. But she was a hell of a dancer. We all got along well enough to be roommates.

When my toe stopped throbbing, I tiptoed quickly across the room and put my hand up to the window. The pane was cold. As the rain sluiced down just beyond my fingertips, I could feel the dampness go through my entire body. I shivered. Then I threw a coat over my T-shirt and went down the hall to the bathroom, where I stood at the sink, bleary-eyed, staring at myself in the mirror. I pushed back a limp lock of hair, then picked it up and let it fall. No question about it, my hair really needed washing. It was so thick and long that it was always a major deal, and I really didn't feel like bothering, so I tied it in a knot, went back to my room, threw on some clothes, and headed down the huge staircase leading to the main hall of the Club.

The Rehearsal Club — a chaperoned boardinghouse for aspiring actresses, singers, and dancers who dreamed of becoming stars—was located in a double brownstone on Fifty-third Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. My father, a classical pianist who felt I'd be much safer here than out on my own, had made it possible for me to buck the long waiting list to get in by playing a benefit concert for the Theatre Guild. The Club was overseen by the sharp eyes of Miss Kay Carleton, a middle-aged lady of pale demeanor who was firm but understanding, and quite nice under all the reserve. She saw the Club as a little paradise for her girls. To us, it seemed more like a finishing school, with all the advantages of a convent. When I moved in she sat me down, looked into my eyes, and said:

"I want to instill in you the proper behavior for a young lady of virtue." Are you kidding? No, she wasn't.

"Gentlemen are not allowed above the first floor;" she warned me. Okay by me. I don't have a gentleman. I'll never forget clutching my suitcase, focusing on Miss Carleton's rigid back, and following her dutifully upstairs. The higher we got, the lonelier I felt.

Now, as I pushed open the heavy front door of the club, the rain had stopped, but the sky was still gloomy and I could tell the lull wouldn't last. I hit Fifty-third Street and turned toward Sixth Avenue.

I loved my neighborhood. The Museum of Modern Art was just up the street, with its tranquil sculpture garden where I could sit and drink coffee all afternoon and think about beauty and art and life and all the other things that filled me with wonder.

In the other direction, on the corner was Baden's drugstore with its friendly counter, its steaming coffee and fresh doughnuts. A block up the avenue on Fifty-fourth Street was Jerry's, our neighborhood bar. It was warm, dark, and cozy, a place where actors could exchange theater news and gossip, trade information on auditions, and find out who was doing what all over town. Between the drugstore and the saloon was a little French restaurant called Faisan d'Or, where the food was first-rate and cheap and you could get a whiff of Paris from the kitchen.

The wind was blowing along Sixth Avenue that day, making ripples across the puddles; people on the sidewalks were pulling their overcoats tighter as they toughed their way around town through the gusts. I doubled my scarf around my neck but still felt my shoulders hunching up in the cold. I was getting chilled through, though I wasn't ready to go find warmth. Not just yet. I'd started to think about my friend Tony and his teeth.

Tony Marcello and Fabio Diaz were my dancing partners. We called ourselves "The Sheridan Trio" — not very catchy, I suppose, but I thought it had a touch of class. (What the hell-it was a lot better than "The Three Troubadours" or "Two Guys and a Gal.")

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2004

    Fascinating Love Story

    I never knew of Dizzy and Jimmy's love story until I read this book. It was a quick and easy read and once your start, you can't stop. Liz lets us enter her life and love with James Dean with out hesitation. I felt this book was written in a novel sort of way. I had to keep reminding me self these were real people in real times. I just loved it and you will too!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2003

    A Great Book

    This was truly a great book that I would recommend to anyone interested in James Dean, Liz Sheridan, or life in New York in the fifties. I couldn't put this book down. It's very straight forward, and she doesn't make it out to be a mushy romance...she tells it like it is.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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