Bea Franco (October 13, 1920 – August 15, 2013)

20 Aug

I learned yesterday via Tim Z. Hernandez that Bea Franco, the woman who inspired Jack Kerouac to write one of his most beautiful passages in On the Road, passed away at the age of 92.

Bea Franco was the real-life woman behind Terry, “the Mexican girl,” in On the Road. Hernandez tracked her down in California when he was doing research for a book on her life and had the great opportunity to interview her and get to know her and her family over time. He wrote a beautiful book entitled Manana Means Heaven (University of Arizona Press) celebrating her relationship with Kerouac and her life afterwards which is due out later this month. I got to read an advance, and I’ll write more on that soon, but what I will say for now is that it’s an inspired work of literature that stands on its own as well as an important book bringing light to one of the women who impacted the Beat Generation. Although the book is not out yet, Hernandez got an advance copy to Franco, which she was able to see a week before she passed away. You can read about that on Hernandez’s blog.

Related links from around the Web:

Beatrice Kozera, known as ‘Terry’ in Kerouac’s ‘On the Road,’ dies at 92 by the Associated Press

On the Road — The Original Scroll — Bea on Retracing Kerouac

On the Road: Columbia Studios, Hollywood, California on Littourati

Evan Karp’s article “Tim Hernandez: Book inspired by Jack Kerouac” for the SFGate

Actress Alice Braga as Terry in the film adaptation

The Daily Beat’s review of Hernandez’s book about Franco, Manana Means Heaven

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11 Responses to “Bea Franco (October 13, 1920 – August 15, 2013)”

  1. Orlando August 20, 2013 at 10:55 pm #

    Wow, so sad that she has passed. But so cool she was able to see the book prior to her passing.

    Strange, I was thinking of her just yesterday. Thinking of the passage in the book where she thought Sal Paradise was a pimp. And he was so upset with her he flung her red pumps across the motel room and told her to leave, which of course convinced her he was no pimp and climb into bed with him.

  2. Orlando August 20, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

    Wow, so sad that she has passed. But so cool she was able to see the book prior to her passing.

    Strange, I was thinking of her just yesterday. Thinking of the passage in the book where she thought Sal Paradise was a pimp. And he was so upset with her he flung her red pumps across the motel room and told her to leave, which of course convinced her he was no pimp and climb into bed with him.

    • Stephanie Nikolopoulos August 21, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

      Haha, yeah, they both thought they were hustling each other!

      • Orlando August 21, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

        Yes, it was a very funny situation. They each thought the other was on the prowl. That situation ended sweetly however.

  3. Orlando August 20, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

    Sorry I double posted.

  4. Orlando August 20, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

    Forgive the misspelled words, I’m out of my skull on brandy.

    • Stephanie Nikolopoulos August 21, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

      Kerouac was a brilliant author but also a notorious alcoholic. Because of his drinking, he alienated people and his life was cut short. It’s a shame, really.

      • Orlando August 21, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

        It’s very sad how Jack died.I wasn’t even around to have ever met him but I wish I’d known him

  5. loraine french August 28, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

    i am still trying to absorb all of the notariety my grandmother ,bea franco/kozera, has gotten from the press ,and countless others in regards to her pior association with jack kerouac so many years ago. my grandmother and i were very close when i was growing up , being her first grandchild, and she never spoke much about her life to me ,other than waitressing in a small cafe in chicago.picking cotton/grapes, out in the fields.she may have talked about more but i was very young then,and probably can’t remember or maybe its because i’m much older now and the memory is going ! lol !anyway, i am very proud to have had the priviledge of knowing such a beautiful woman. she was , is , and will always be my whole world in this life and the next. can’t wait till we are together again.. i love her more than life itself.

    • Stephanie Nikolopoulos August 28, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

      Thanks for sharing, Loraine! I imagine it must be surreal for her family to read so much about her in the media. I think it’s proof what an inspiration she was—not just as Kerouac’s “muse” as so many other reports have written but as a strong, family-oriented woman with a voice and a story of her own.

      I was very close with my grandmother as well and miss her terribly. She too was a very private person and never shared much, and I wish now that I knew more about her life. Even so, she was always so caring and supportive of me and taught me a lot about being an independent, strong woman. Grandmothers are truly special people.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. I’m Talking with Tim Z. Hernandez; Join Us! | Stephanie Nikolopoulos - September 16, 2013

    […] Tim tracked her down and interviewed her for the book, and she got to see it right before she passed away last […]

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