Rocky Mountain News 14.12.2001


Hanks plans 'Red Elvis' movie

Tom Hanks reportedly is negotiating to produce and star in a movie based on the life of former Wheat Ridge resident and Soviet superstar Dean Reed.

Titled "Comrade Superstar", the DreamWorks project will tell the tale of the singer who left Colorado for phenomenal success, first in Latin America and then in Eastern Europe, at the height of the Cold War.

Reed, who returned to Denver briefly in 1985, died mysteriously in a lake outside his East Berlin home a year later. He was 47.

"I like Tom Hanks. It sounds great," his older brother Dale Reed said Thursday from Seattle. "I would have thought a younger Robert Redford would be better. But Hanks would be good."

Dale Reed is more concerned that Hanks get the story straight.

"It would be a shame if someone who makes a movie screws something up," he said.

Dean Reed, born on a chicken farm on Wadsworth Boulevard, was a high school track star, a college dropout and a recording artist for Capitol Records by the time he turned 20.

But the singer never found fame in the United States and instead left for South America, where his popularity soared. For one show in Peru, he needed a cadre of 58 police to help him navigate through a throng of 5,000 fans.

Reed kept singing, acting and traveling, and his increasingly socialist views led him to Eastern Europe. There he sold albums by the millions and had female fans who waited all night to buy tickets to his concerts. He was dubbed the "Johnny Cash of Communism" and "Red Elvis."

Reed returned to Colorado for the first time in 25 years to speak at the 1985 Denver International Film Festival, where a documentary on Reed's life called "American Rebel" was shown. His family says he eventually wanted to return to Colorado to live, but he died before he had the chance.

The cause of Reed's 1986 death remains a mystery, East German officials said it was accidental, but relatives and friends claimed he was murdered. Dale Reed said it also could have been suicide.

Dale said his brother would enjoy the idea that his life story could be a movie starring a multiple Oscar winner.

"He'd like that, boy," he said. "As long as they tell the truth. Of course, none of us know what his life was like, what the truth is. He lived a very exciting life."

Michael Mehle

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