Thursday, December 25, 2008
Rebel Without a Cause
He had the looks to become a model, or, in an earlier or later era, a heartthrob movie star; but Mark Frechette, caught up in the late 1960's counterculture, was ultimately destined to live fast and die young. He was discovered in 1968, screaming "Motherfucker!" at a corner bus stop (wasn't that how Lana Turner got her big break?); director Michaelangelo Antonioni simply explained, "He's 20 and he hates." Apparently, that was all Antonioni required of the male lead of his new youthquake film, Zabriskie Point; Frechette was cast, along with fellow commune-dweller, Daria Halprin. The film was a critical and commercial disaster, despite reams of publicity; Halprin eventually left the cult-like clutches of the commune for the real world or, as she married Dennis Hopper, something vaguely akin to it. Frechette remained, giving his entire $60,000 salary from the film back to the commune. In 1973, he was jailed after a botched bank robbery; another commune member was killed in the melee. Two years later, Frechette was dead; weight-lifting in the prison's recreation room, he was killed instantly when the barbell slipped and landed on his neck.