Bill Rancic Defends His Wife Giuliana After Fashion Police Controversy: 'I Tried to Get Them to Release the Footage' 41 years, 2,185 covers and 55,435 stories from PEOPLE magazine's history for you to enjoy
- Pregnant Woman Gives Birth in California Wilderness and Fights Off Swarm of Bees After Getting Stranded
- The Best Photos from the Week of June 22- June 29, 2015
- '#LetsGoGirls': Twitter Cheers as USA Advances to the Women's World Cup Finals
- Seventh Black Church Goes Up in Flames Following Charleston Massacre
- Kendra and Hank Reveal the Truth About His Sex Scandal
On Newsstands Now
- Matthew McConaughey: In His Own Words
- Jessa Duggar's Wedding Album
- Brittany Maynard's Final Days
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine
People Top 5
LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- September 14, 1981
- Vol. 16
- No. 11
Alan Bean Posed as An Astronaut for Years; Now He Figures He Has the Right Stuff to Be An Artist
Despite what some NASA observers may have felt, Bean insists his decision had nothing to do with a case of the middle-age crazies. Without telling anyone, he had decided back in 1978 that he would leave the space program after the successful first flight of the space shuttle. Quietly, he prowled galleries, took art classes at night ("doing flowers, that sort of thing") and began saving as much of his NASA salary (about $50,000) as he could. Now, between his nest egg and the pension he draws as a retired Navy captain, he figures he can survive five years "even if I never sell a painting."
Bean plans to hold a show when he has completed 25 works—probably next year. The six acrylics now in progress at his apartment in a fashionable area of Houston deal with a subject he knows well: the moon. "I'm the only person doing moonscapes who has been there," he says, and happily admits he's no Impressionist. Being a "technically oriented" artist, he works from NASA photos and often calls on fellow astronauts for help in getting details correct.
Moonscapes can be tricky. "It all looks the same there," Bean says. "You can't tell how far away things are because there's no atmosphere to bounce the light around. The surface has much more brown to it than photographs show. And the sky is always black." Bean's goal is absolute realism. "The only license I use is to move people around to make a scene artistic." One fan of Bean's work is his Apollo 12 teammate, Pete Conrad, now a McDonnell Douglas VP. He told Bean, "You know, this is the first thing I've seen where the color of the moon is the way I remember it."
Bean has always been artistically inclined. As a boy, he says, "I wanted to be a test pilot, but it was always more important to me that the model airplanes I had looked good rather than flew well." He grew up in Fort Worth, where his father worked for the U.S. Agriculture Department. After majoring in aeronautical engineering at the University of Texas, he joined the Navy in 1955 and indeed became a test pilot. NASA tapped him for the astronaut program in 1963. Divorced four years ago from his schoolteacher wife, Sue (they have two grown children), Bean is now engaged to Leslie Clem, 33, a personnel executive at Houston's Texas Medical Center. She recalls that when they first met, two years ago, "I thought he had a totally scientific mind—in fact, I thought he was a creep." But the real Bean, she later found, "is a very emotional person."
In his NASA days Bean worked hard at cultivating the prescribed image. "They wanted the ultimate in predictability, so you had to actually become that sort of person," he says. "It was a matter of finding the aspects of your personality they were looking for, concentrating on them and putting the others in the background."
Even on the moon, Bean says, he had to squelch his artistic instincts. "I remember once looking back at Earth and starting to think, 'Gee, that's beautiful.' Then I said to myself, 'Quit screwing off and go collect rocks.' We figured reflection wasn't productive."
Today Bean seems happy that there is room for both in his new life-style. "I think I would like to be remembered in the end as an astronaut and an artist," he says. "I think everyone can do more than one thing with his life. After all, we have a former actor who is now the President."
Treat Yourself! 4 Preview Issues
The most buzzed about stars this minute!