Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

James Dean and Ronald Reagan Together?

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The ultimate teen rebel. The actor-turned-conservative icon. On screen in the same teleplay?

“The Dark, Dark Hours” (yes, this is the actual title, melodrama and all) casts Ronald Reagan and James Dean as a staunch father and his black sheep of a son. The television play was broadcast live on December 12, 1954 as part of the General Electric Theater. Originally 23 minutes, the clip has been edited to six minutes. There’s still much to admire, to cajole, to shake your head in bafflement. Not only the fact that these very different actors graced the same television screen, but that the clip has been lost for so long.

One of my favorite parts is the quintessential James Dean moment when he seems to jump the cliff, losing it, expressing his anger in a wild sweep of the bottles on the table. Glimmers of the classic teen pain and angst Dean would later put on full display, of course, in Rebel Without a Cause. Good stuff.

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Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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