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 dreamsdreams 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 rebellionbut 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 fansand, perhaps, surprise viewers most familiar with Sheridan as the actress who played Jerry Seinfeld's mother on the series Seinfeld
About 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.
Read an Excerpt
Chapter OneIt 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 starswas 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.")
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.