Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsDeception

Death of Author James Baldwin

December 12, 1987

Thank you very much for giving front-page space as well as an editorial tribute ("Loss to the World," Dec. 2) to author James Baldwin, who died on Dec. 1 in France.

I met Baldwin in 1964, and from then until 1970, we spent a great deal of time together, both as professionals in the entertainment arts field and as volunteers in support of peace and civil rights projects. Since he did not drive, it was my happy task to pick him up and accompany him to business meetings, private parties, fund-raisers and many other social events. We laughed and cried together, and we became good friends. My deepest regret is that when I last vacationed in France in 1973, he was out of the country on business, and I never saw him again.

It's odd that you mentioned his physical characteristics in your editorial and again on Dec. 5, you accompanied the excerpt from his stunning book, "The Fire Next Time," with a most graphic illustration of his unusual appearance. I must tell you that through all the years, I never once thought of Baldwin as "small, unattractive, homosexual and black." Certainly he was little and somewhat frail, but truly he was a giant among his many talented peers during that exciting decade of what was world recognition and fame for him, and sometimes turmoil and infamy for our beloved country.

Jimmy Baldwin was one of the bravest men I have ever known. In spite of everything he had going against him, he stood up to life as he found it and used his considerable gifts to fight the bullyboys of prejudice and hate. I can't remember ever hearing him express any personal venom or bitterness, only fury and anger at cruelty and venality, and he never failed to raise that beautiful voice of his against ignorance, and waste and deception.

I will always remember him as a warm and witty, deeply compassionate and generous human being who shared his visions of a safer and more fulfilling life for each of us in spite of the threats he felt from a sometimes chilly and hostile world.

TONI BROWN KIMMEL

North Hollywood

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|