I got an email from Jeanne Keyes Youngson, who had encountered my first Shepherd book. She described herself as a romantic interest of Jean’s before he took up with Lois Nettleton. Jeanne had known him during his earliest WOR days and was around during the I, Libertine broadcasts. I spent several hours at her penthouse apartment on Washington Square interviewing her. She is a sweet, smart, blond-haired lady in her early eighties. She has more in that apartment than can comfortably fit in it, including two Christmas trees, one of which has exclusively hundred-year-old ornaments. She has a doctorate and her apartment is a clutter full of her wide-ranging interests, including a narrow hallway lined with shelves chock-full of hundreds of books about Dracula and his ilk. Surely the following broadcast fragment about vampires from near the end of Jean’s WOR days is but a mere coincidence:
I turn on this television set. It goes bwaaaawaaad, awaaaaaay—you know how the sets go, and the picture flops over about twenty-eight times and suddenly it stops. I’m lookin’ at it. Oh my god NO! Out of my ancient past—Count Dracula! I’m looking at Dracula! (March 25, 1977)
Jeanne, the Vampire Lady, married film director Robert Youngson, and they sometimes dined with Jean Shepherd and Lois Nettleton. She does not know if Lois was aware of her earlier association with Jean. She commented that Jean kept many different parts of his life in closed “compartments.” (We have encountered that comment previously from Helen Gee, Lois Nettleton, and others.)
Jeanne relates that Jean would sometimes come to the Youngson apartment to watch old movies with them. He gave Robert Youngson “hundreds of seven-and-a-half inch audio tapes” of his programs, which I assume would be of Shepherd’s broadcasts in early 1956, those “overnight” programs, the long-sought holy grail for Shepherd enthusiasts. These would reveal what his early, formative style was all about. When Youngson died in 1974, Jeanne donated his film archives to Kent State University. Upon learning of this possible cache of Shepherd’s “overnight” broadcasts from early 1956, I began my dogged search for them.
What was that about vampires?! Jeanne is the leader of the Vampire Empire and the Bram Stoker Society. You can look it up.
Jeanne Keyes Youngson, “The Vampire Lady,”
in her Washington Square apartment.
She says the Shepherd tapes might have been mistakenly shipped to Kent State or to a Middle-European Dracula Museum that has vanished into thin air. Her airy balcony has a panoramic view of Manhattan, from which I did not see any roosting mammals. Yet, as they might say in the rarefied world of vampire gourmets, the plot races and the blood thickens—or something like that.
My graphic novel about my search for the Shepherd tapes with Joyce Brabner, Harvey Pekar’s wife, got posted quite a while back. See early posts and this sample showing the unfortunate end to our search: