Rocky Mountain News 18.06.1986
Heart attack suspected in death of Dean Reed
Dean Reed, the Wheat Ridge High School track star who became a musical force and film personality in the Soviet bloc, died yesterday in East Germany, possibly of a heart attack, friends in this country said. He was 47.
Dixie Schnebly, Reed's U.S. manager, said Reed died while swimming in a lake behind his Berlin home. She said a heart attack is probably the cause, but an autopsy had not been performed.
The tall, handsome Reed was treated with suspicion in Colorado for his decision to live in the Soviet Union and, later, East Germany. But friends described Reed as a man who wanted to promote peace between the superpowers and said he could influence the East bloc.
"He felt he could promote peace there on an American scale," said Schnebly, who grew up down the block from Reed in Wheat Ridge. "He spoke out against the system just as he spoke out here. He felt change was his forte."
"So many people are threatened by 'communist' as a word," but people who met Reed thought of him as "Dean the peacemaker," Schnebly said.
ARRIVING IN Denver last October for the first time in 25 years, Reed told reporters, "I'm with my people, and the skies are as blue as I remember, and the people are as friendly as I remember."
But a few days later, he was thrown off a Denver talk show after an angry exchange over the causes of poverty in Ethiopa. At the height of the argument, Reed said KNUS host Peter Boyles sounded "just like the neo-Nazis that killed Berg."
KOA radio talk show host Alan Berg, one of Boyles' closest friends, was gunned down in front of his Denver townhome 2 years ago today.
Boyles later said he should have slugged Reed.
REED WAS born Sept. 22, 1938, in Lakewood. A high school track star, he made news at age 17 when he won a 110-mile race over mountainous terrain against a man on a mule. Reed collapsed at the finish line, but won the prize - a shiny quarter.
Reed studied meteorolgy at the University of Colorado, but dropped out after 2 years to seek fame as a singer.
The "Rocky Mountain News" described him in 1959 as "the brightest new singing star in the recording industry" after an appearance on The Dick Clark Show.
But while his records poked along in this country during the early 1960s, he quickly achieved star status in Latin America, where he was idolized by teen-age fans. He also achieved fame on tours of the East bloc. "Newsweek" in 1972 described him as the "Frank Sinatra of the Soviet Union."
His repertoire was heavily weighted with protest songs, but included Sinatra's "I Did It My Way." He helped bring American rock music to Eastern Europe with renditions of such hits as "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Tutti Frutti."
Reed lived in Latin America and Italy after 1962, but was declared persona non grata by Argentina in 1970.
Reed lived in East Germany since 1972, but said during his Colorado visit that he hoped to live in America again because he had a "great fear" of dying in another country.
Reed retained his U.S. citizenship. He was the only American ever to win the Lenin prize for art. He won peace prizes from several East European nations.
A brief dispatch by the East German news agency ADN yesterday said the death was caused by an accident, but didn't describe the type of accident or when it occurred.
Reed's mother, Ruth Anna Brown of Honolulu, planned to fly to Berlin late yesterday.
Surviving in addition to his mother, are his wife, actress Renate Blume of East Germany, and her son, Sacha Alexander, whom Reed adopted; two daughters by previous marriages, Ramona and Natalie; and two brothers, Dale Reed of Washington and Vernon Reed of Alaska.