Jean Stein, the literary editor and author "known for producing engrossing oral histories on topics as disparate as the tumultuous life of an Andy Warhol acolyte and the dastardly intrigues of early Hollywood," died April 30, the Los Angeles Times reported. She was 83. A spokesperson at Random House, which published her most recent book, West of Eden: An American Place, said the publisher "is deeply saddened by the death of Jean Stein."
"She had the respect of the heavy hitters, people who weren't interested in the small talk--people like Joan Didion, Jules Feiffer," said journalist Robert Scheer, who had known Stein since the '60s. "It was a circle of people who were very tough and demanding."
Stein also produced, in collaboration with George Plimpton, her debut oral history American Journey: The Times of Robert Kennedy (1971) and Edie: An American Biography (1982).
She met Plimpton in Paris "and by the mid-1950s was working at the Paris Review, where she interviewed figures such as novelist William Faulkner (with whom she also had a romantic dalliance)," the L.A. Times wrote, adding that by the end of the decade "she had landed back in New York City, where she worked as an assistant to Clay Felker, the legendary magazine editor who was then the features editor at Esquire and who would ultimately go on to found New York magazine." From 1990 until 2004, Stein edited the literary journal Grand Street.
"She didn't suffer fools," Scheer observed. "And when I was a fool, she didn't suffer me."