KINO German Film & International Reports Nr. 90, (Oct.) 2007



Our paths crossed for the first time at the 1975 Moscow film festival. Dean was promoting a DEFA "western" titled Blutsbrüder (Blood Brothers) (GDR, 1975). The story of a cavalryman (Dean Reed) siding with the Plain Indians after a bloody massacre by American troops, the reference is to the infamous Sand Creek Massacre of the Cheyennes that had taken place in eastern Colorado in November of 1864. When I asked Dean why he had left Rome, where he had acted in a dozen Italo-Westerns, to work in East Berlin, he only hinted that Blood Brothers wasn't much different than what he had been doing before. Since he was already an immensely popular rockstar in the Soviet Union and throughout Socialist Europe, why keep milking a faltering movie career when thousands will turn out for a concert by "Comrade Rockstar"? Our paths crossed again in the spring of 1978 in Iraq - at the Baghdad Festival of Paestinian Films. At the opening night gala, Dean Reed was singing revolutionary ballads and voicing the praises of of Yasser Arafat. After his show, we joked that we were probably the only Americans within a thousand miles of Baghdad. We met for a third time in October of 1985 in his hometown - at the Denver film festival. Festival director Ron Henderson had invited Will Roberts to present his documentary American Rebel: The Dean Reed Story. It proved to be one of the main attractions of the festival, just as Leopold Grün's documentary Der Rote Elvis (The Red Elvis) (Germany, 2006) and Icestorm's DVD release of his DEFA films are addressing a faithful fan club today (

While at Denver, Dean talked about his popularity as a rockstar in Argentina, about how his "Our Summer Romance" had passed Elvis Presley on the charts, and about the popularity of his talkshow in Buenos Aires. He spoke his mind on Chile, particularly about his friendship with Salvador Allende and Victor Jara, and how in 1966 his political activism had gotten him expelled from Argentina shortly after accepting an invitation to perform in Russia while attending the 1965 World Peace Conference in Helsinki. But he had little to say about Italy, where at Cinecittà he was featured in a dozen "spaghetti westerns" before leaving Rome for East Berlin in 1973. Meanwhile, Dean was getting hammered from all sides by the press and media with the only visible support coming from his Denver family. When a local radio show questioned his American patriotism, and a national publication ridiculed his singing and acting talent, he staunchly defended his loyalty to the United States. Our last meeting was in West Berlin - in late May of 1986, just a few weeks before his myterious death. Dorothea and I were attending a premiere at the Theater des Westens when we bumped into Dean Reed and his wife, actress Renate Blume, in the foyer. After the show, we spent an hour together chatting about his next film project. The occupation of Wounded Knee by the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the subsequent FBI siege. Titled Bloody Heart, it was to be produced by the DEFA-Studio in East Germany and shot on the steppes of Kirghizstan in Central Asia. Twenty years later, in August of this year, Günter Reisch stopped by and handed me a copy of the script for the Bloody Heart project. He said that approval from DEFA had come too late, so the film has never made. Unfortunately.

- Ronald Holloway

Just in time for the DOKfestival Leipzig has appeared the publication of F.-B. Habel's Dean Reed, Die wahre Geschichte (Berlin: Verlag Neues Leben, 2007).

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Letzte Änderung: 2008-09-13