David Loehr grew up on a farm in Western Massachusetts, studied graphic design at Parson’s School of Design in New York, and attended the Lester Polokov School for Stage Design.
In 1974 a friend gave him the book, James Dean: The Mutant King by David Dalton. David read the book while travelling from New York to California, where he lived for five years in Pasadena. While in California, he saw all three of Dean’s major films on the big screen for the first time, and was knocked out by Dean’s performances.
He picked up another book, a poster, a magazine, and before he knew it, he was collecting James Dean memorabilia. This has now become the world’s largest collection of Dean memorabilia; and what was a small hobby has turned into a full time job and career.
In 1982, David conducted the First Annual Walking Tour of James Dean’s New York Hangouts, which lasted 6 hours and visited over 30 points of interest from Dean’s early days in the city. He continued the annual tours for the next ten years.
In 1988, after dozens of trips to Fairmount spanning 14 years, David opened the James Dean Gallery to the public for the first time. Since then, it has continued to grow in popularity, and now attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year and is one of Grant County’s most popular tourist attractions.
Over the years, David has worked on dozens of James Dean projects including books such as: James Dean: American Icon, James Dean: Shooting Star, James Dean: Tribute to a Rebel, and The Official James Dean Book. He has also contributed to several documentaries, including James Dean: Forever Young, Forever James Dean, James Dean: a Portrait, James Dean and Me, Born Cool, and several foreign documentaries.
David and the James Dean Gallery have been featured on numerous television shows, including: A Current Affair, 20/20, To Tell the Truth, Entertainment Tonight, The Joe Franklin Show, New York Profiles, Across Indiana, Strange Universe, The Good Night Show, many local television news shows, and a live, in studio appearance on a popular Japanese television show.
David currently publishes a quarterly James Dean Gallery Newsletter and continues to operate the Museum Exhibit and Gift Shop in Fairmount.