Westword 04.01.2006


Red Elvis Alert

Dean Reed's legacy lives on.

Patricia Calhoun

Westword 04.01.2006

At the same time a mop-haired folksinger with the marquee-unfriendly name of Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. was changing his name to John Denver and adopting Colorado as his home state, a real country boy - Dean Reed - was searching for stardom. But he didn't find it in his home town of Denver, or even in Hollywood. Reed moved on to South America, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, where the singer/actor/director - known as "Red Elvis" - became an international superstar.

The last time Reed was in this country was in 1985 as a guest at the Denver International Film Festival; the following April, he rated a profile on Sixty Minutes. "Seven weeks later, his body was found in a lake in East Germany," says filmmaker Will Roberts, who profiled Reed in his 1985 cult classic, American Rebel. Reed's death - a suicide, according to East German authorities - remains a mystery.

Tom Hanks and DreamWorks are currently working on a project that will bring Reed back to life on the big screen. (Hanks has "signed all three wives," says Roberts, who negotiated with DreamWorks for three years before deciding not to sign on.) In the meantime, United Documentary Films just released a DVD of American Rebel. "It's the first time it's been available," says Roberts, who's now based in Denver; he filmed many of Reed's relatives and friends here. "It had never been available on VHS, either." The movie's a little shorter and the titles are better, but otherwise, the work is the same film he made twenty years ago - one that captures American rebel Reed at his most charismatic. The Dean Reed story, American Rebel, is available through United Documentary Films.
Wed., Jan. 4.


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Letzte Änderung: 2007-12-07