Dead Celebrity Pen Pals, a Top 5 Wish List

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Last week, worlds collided when the famous New York auction house Christie's sold a letter dating back to 1957 for $33,600. Why did it sell for such a hefty sum of money, you ask? Because it was a letter written by Jack Kerouac to Marlon Brando pleading with him to purchase the movie rights to Kerouac's opus, On the Road. Apparently, Kerouac wanted Brando to play the carefree and wild character Dean, and Kerouac would play the role of Sal, who was loosely based on the author. A portion of the letter reads:

I wanted you to play the part because Dean (as you know) is no dopey hotrodder but a real intelligent (in fact Jesuit) Irishman. You play Dean and I'll play Sal (Warner Bros. mentioned I play Sal) and I'll show you how Dean acts in real life.

Brando declined to buy the film and for 54 years the world never knew of this potential collaboration. This apex of missed connections made us wonder how many other such situations existed throughout history? Are there more letters out there, waiting to be auctioned off for tons of cash, which pair up two unlikely souls?

We certainly hope so, and here is our top five wish list of dead celebrity pen pals.

5. Abe Lincoln Writes John Wilkes Booth

Why Would He Do That? Booth was an actor and a popular one in Virginia. Who is to say that Honest Abe wasn't a fan?

What Would the Letter Say? Just some regular old "I saw you in Hamlet and totally wanted to tell you how awesome you were" fan mail.

What Would the Reaction Be? We're thinking he never got it. We don't know whether actors in those days got a lot of fan mail, but we do know that the mail system was shoddy at best. If Booth had received such a letter... who knows where the world would be now!

4. Kurt Cobain Writes J.D. Salinger

Why Would He Do That? Because like every good depressed, apathetic Gen Xer, Salinger's book A Catcher in the Rye made a big impact on Cobain's life (remember, we are taking wild guesses here).

What Would the Letter Say? How everyone in the whole world is really just a bunch of phonies and "...what really knocks him out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it." What Would the Reaction Be? Salinger would have absolutely no idea who Cobain was nor what was supposed to be meant by the phrase "With the lights out, it's less dangerous," so he never responds. 3. Andy Rooney Writes Amy Winehouse

Why Would He Do That? He needed something new to complain about and thought that Winehouse needed some good, long, drawn-out advice about life.

What Would the Letter Say? "There are a lot of things I can tolerate, but I don't like your attitude. Firstly, you wear too much makeup and what is going on with your hair? Now, I enjoy your style of music, I'll admit, but I do not like the influence you are having on young girls."

What Would the Reaction Be? Sadly, Winehouse would probably have been in no state to receive such a letter or in a place in her life where it would have done her any good.

2. Albert Einstein Writes Colonel Sanders

Why Would He Do That? Because he cannot for the life of him figure out the Colonel's secret recipe! What Would the Letter Say? Good Colonel, I am the father of modern physics, a Nobel Prize winner and considered a genius, and for the life of me I cannot figure out the 11 secret herbs and spices that make your fried chicken so delicious.

What Would the Reaction Be? No way in hell would the Colonel give that out, even to Einstein.

1. Jeffrey Dahmer Writes Bea Arthur

Why Would He Do That? We have no idea, but wouldn't that be totally crazy if he did?

What Would the Letter Say? Probably something about The Golden Girls and a warning that getting back together with Stan would be a terrible idea. What Would the Reaction Be? Total and utter shock.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.