Nickname: Jimmy Dean
James Dean was raised on a farm by his aunt and uncle in Fairmount, Indiana. He received rave
reviews for his work as the blackmailing Arab boy in the New York production of Gide's "The Immoralist," good enough to earn him a trip to Hollywood. His early film efforts were strictly bit parts: a sailor in
the Martin & Lewis overly frantic musical comedy Sailor Beware (1951); a GI in the moody Richard Basehart study of a platoon in the Korean War Fixed Bayonets (1951); a youth in the Piper Laurie - Rock Hudson comedy
Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (1952). He had major roles in only three movies. In the Elia Kazan production of John Steinbeck's East of Eden (1955) he played Caleb, the "bad" brother who couldn't force affection
from his stiff-necked father. His true starring role, the one which fixed his image forever in American culture, was that of the brooding red-jacketed teenager Jim Stark in Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without a Cause (1955).
Filming of Edna Ferber's Giant (1956) ( George Stevens ), in which he played the non-conforming cowhand Jett Rink, was just coming to a close when Dean, driving his Porsche Spyder, collided with another car just east of
Paso Robles, California. He had received a speeding ticket just two hours before. His very brief career, violent death and highly publicized funeral transformed James Dean into a cult object of apparently timeless
(1995) Chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#42).
(October 1997) Ranked #33 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list.
JAMES DEAN is a trademark of the James Dean Foundation. Licensed by CMG Worldwide, Inc., Indianapolis,
So many fans have come to see James Dean's grave site and chipped away "mementos" of the head stone that it is difficult to appreciate the inscription as it was originally meant to be.
The famous Failure Analysis Associates, from Menlo Park, California, re-constructed and re-created all details of the accident at the same approximate time on September 30th, and have concluded that James Dean
was travelling 55 to 56 m.p.h. when the fateful accident occured, thereby proving he had not been speeding, as rumor had it.
Middle name, Byron, comes from a friend of Jimmy's dad who worked in their
neighbourhood in Fairmount.
His so called affairs with various starlets were made up by the Warner Brothers PR.
James Dean got his middle name, Byron, from his mothers favorite poet Lord Byron. His
mother always read poetry. This is a known fact.
Dean also worked as a "stunt tester" on the original "Beat The Clock" game show in 1950, testing the safety of the stunts that some of the
studio audience members would later perform.
Interred at Park Cemetery, Fairmount, Indiana, USA.
One of only five actors to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his first screen
Reportedly, Dean was very much in love with Pier Angeli and they planned to marry, but her mother blocked the union because Dean wasn't Catholic, and helped arrange Pier's marriage to Vic Damone.
Before she committed suicide, Pier wrote that Dean was the only man she had ever really loved.
Dean's acting breakthrough came on Broadway in the drama "See the Jaquar, " despite its run of less than a
Briefly studied dance with Katherine Dunham.
Won the Bloom Award as "Best Newcomer" for early Broadway work in "The Immortalist."
"Only the gentle are ever really strong."
"Gratification comes in the doing, not in the results."
"Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today."
"The damaged but beautiful soul of our time." - Andy Warhol
"An actor must interpret life, and in order to do so must be willing to accept all the experiences life has to offer. In fact, he must
seek out more of life than life puts at his feet. In the short span of his lifetime, an actor must learn all there is to know, experience all there is to experience, or approach that state as closely as possible. He
must be superhuman in his efforts to store away in the core of his subconscious everything that he might be called upon to use in the expression of his art."
"It was an accident, although I've been
involved in some kind of theatrical function or other since I was a child - in school, music, athletics. To me, acting is the most logical way for people's neuroses to manifest themselves, in this great need we all have
to express ourselves. To my way of thinking, an actor's course is set even before he's out of the cradle."
"He would be bothered when someone would say he was mean and disrespectful. Because actually,
he wasn't. They took silence to mean he cared little or nothing for them. They didn't have the insight, or didn't care to exercise the insight, in knowing that he was a shy boy that just didn't know how to approach
them. Instead of making an attempt to approach him, they just, well, they just wrote him off." - Lew Bracker
"To grasp the full significance of life is the actor's duty; to interpret it his problem;
and to express it his dedication. Being an actor is the loneliest thing in the world. You are all alone with your concentration and imagination, and that's all you have. Being a good actor isn't easy. Being a man is
even harder. I want to be both before I'm done."
"Every time I go to Europe, I remember that James Dean never saw Europe, but yet I see his face everywhere. There's James Dean, Humphrey Bogart and
Marilyn Monroe - windows of the Champs Elysees, discos in the south of Spain, restaurants in Sweden, t-shirts in Moscow. My life was confused and disoriented for years by his passing. My sense of destiny destroyed - the
great films he would have directed, the great performances he would have given, the great humanitarian he would have become, and yet, he's the greatest actor and star I have ever known." - Dennis Hopper
"Studying cows, pigs and chickens can help an actor develop his character. There are a lot of things I learned from animals. One was that they couldn't hiss or boo me. I also became close to nature, and am now able
to appreciate the beauty with which this world is endowed."
When told he was too short to be an actor: "How can you measure acting in inches?"
"I didn't know what to do. How do you
tell an eight-year-old boy his mother's going to die? I tried. In my own stumbling way I tried to prepare Jim for it. Nowadays, he lives in a world we don't understand too well, the actor's world. We don't see too much
of him. But he's a good boy, my Jim. A good boy, and I"m very proud of him. Not easy to understand, no sir. He's not easy to understand. But he's all man, and he'll make his mark. Mind you, my boy will make his
mark." - James Dean's brother Winton in Modern Screen, August 1955
"Trust and belief are two prime considerations. You must not allow yourself to be opinionated. You must say, 'Wait. Let me see.'And
above all, you must be honest with yourself." - James Dean to Hedda Hopper
"When an actor plays a scene exactly the way a director orders, it isn't acting. It's following instructions. Anyone with the
physical qualifications can do that. So the director's task is just that ^Ö to direct, to point the way. Then the actor takes over. And he must be allowed the space, the freedom to express himself in the role. Without
that space, an actor is no more than an unthinking robot with a chest-full of push-buttons."
"He was very afraid of being hurt. He was afraid of opening up in case it was turned around and used against
him." - Elizabeth Taylor
"He could look in a delicatessen window and suddenly start waving at a bowl of prunes, like they were alive. He was childish in a charming way." - Christine White
"He had the greatest power of concentration I have ever encountered. He prepared himself so well in advance for any scene he was playing, that the lines were not simply something he had memorized - they were
actually a very real part of him." - Jim Backus
"Jim Dean and Elvis were the spokesmen for an entire generation. When I was in acting school in New York, years ago, there was a saying that if Marlon
Brando changed the way people acted, then James Dean changed the way people lived. He was the greatest actor who ever lived. He was simply a genius." - Martin Sheen
"He didn't show you very much. He'd
challenge you to find him. Then when you'd found him, he'd still make you guess. It was an endless game with him. The thing people missed about Jimmy was his mischievousness. He was the most constantly mischievous
person I think I've ever met. Full of tricks, full of magic, full of outrageousness." - Stewart Stern
"All of us were touched by Jimmy, and he was touched by greatness." - Natalie Wood
Biography from Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia:
Actor. (b. Feb. 8, 1931, Marion, Ind.; d. Sept. 30, 1955.) A fallen American icon in the tradition of Elvis, Marilyn, and fewer than a handful of others, Dean's
enormous cultural resonance exists in inverse proportion to his actual body of work. He had starring roles in only three films. His appeal combined a reticent ruggedness with an air of painful introspection; his
outburst of "You're tearin' me apart!" in Rebel Without a Cause (1955) was the closest he came to explicitly stating an emotional dilemma. How much of Dean's character was an expression of his "true
self" as opposed to a creation of Method acting will never really be known, and to a certain extent it's the blurring of such boundaries that makes Dean such an enduring figure-fans from every generation can easily
believe the actor was the thing he embodied.
Dean worked in theater and had a couple of movie bits (including one in Samuel Fuller's 1951 Korean war drama Fixed Bayonets before moving to New York where he did
stage and TV work. A Broadway appearance in an adaptation of André Gide's "The Immoralist" attracted the attention of Hollywood producers; he tested for Warner Bros. and was subsequently cast as one of the
rival brothers in Elia Kazan's 1955 film of John Steinbeck's novel, East of Eden His performance in that film created a sensation; without consciously trying, he became a symbol of the increasingly alienated youth of
the post-WW2 era. His next role, as a confused teen in Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without a Cause had an even more explicit appeal to young moviegoers.
Dean had completed work on George Stevens' Giant (1956) when he
was killed in a crash while speeding his Porsche Spider to Salinas, California, to participate in an auto race. His cult was such that Stevens received letters from Dean fans threatening to kill the director should he
cut a single frame of Dean's performance. He received a posthumous Best Actor Oscar nomination for Giant just as he did the year before for East of Eden Dean's short life and career has been dissected and chronicled in
a large number of books, documentaries, and reminiscences, and legions of fans still flock to his Indiana grave each year.