When I learned of Jim Brown‘s death a couple of days ago, I immediately thought of James Toback‘s “Jim: The Author’s Self-Centered Memoir on the Great Jim Brown.” I realize I’m not allowed to mention Toback these days, but this ribald…okay, hedonistic and affectionate memoir is what sold me on Brown’s settled, come-what-may coolness.
Not to mention his appearances on The Dick Cavett Show in the late ’60s and early ’70s (particularly the Lester Maddox walk-out episode). And I’ve always loved Brown’s ringside commentary during the Muhammud Ali-George Foreman “Rumble in the Jungle”, and particularly his prediction that “I don’t think George is gonna make it.”
Before his directing and screenwriting career took off, Toback was allegedly assigned to write a negative magazine piece on Brown. But after getting to know his subject Toback decided that Brown didn’t deserve this, and was so taken with the ex-football player’s laid-back, cool-cat attitude that he decided to write “Jim” as a makeup. Brown was a bit of a Zen libertine back then, and the book relates how he and Toback embarked on an erotic adventure or two, or so I recall.