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James Dean

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James Dean

James Dean
Dean in Rebel Without a Cause
Born James Byron Dean
(1931-02-08)February 8, 1931
Marion, Indiana, U.S.
Died September 30, 1955(1955-09-30) (aged 24)
Cholame, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Vehicular accident
Resting place
Park Cemetery, Fairmount, Indiana, U.S.
Other names Jimmy Dean
Alma mater
Occupation Actor
Years active 1950–1955
Notable work(s)
Home town Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Fairmount, Indiana, U.S.
Religion Quaker

James Byron Dean (February 8, 1931 – September 30, 1955) was an American actor.[1] He is a cultural icon of the United States and a cultural icon of teenage disillusionment, as expressed in the title of his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause (1955), in which he starred as troubled teenager Jim Stark. The other two roles that defined his stardom were loner Cal Trask in East of Eden (1955) and surly ranch hand Jett Rink in Giant (1956). Dean's enduring fame and popularity rest on his performances in only these three films, in two of which he is in the leading role.

Dean's premature death in a car crash cemented his legendary status.[2] He became the first actor to receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, and remains the only actor to have had two posthumous acting nominations.[3] In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked him the 18th best male movie star on their AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars list.[4]

Early life

James Dean was born at the Seven Gables apartment house at the corner of 4th Street and McClure Street in Marion, Indiana,[5] the son of Winton Dean (January 17, 1907 – February 21, 1995) and Mildred Wilson (September 15, 1910 – July 14, 1940). Six years after his father had left farming to become a dental technician, Dean and his family moved to Santa Monica, California. He was enrolled at Brentwood Public School in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, but transferred soon afterward to the McKinley Elementary school.[6] The family spent several years there, and by all accounts, young Dean was very close to his mother. According to Michael DeAngelis, she was "the only person capable of understanding him".[7] In 1938, she was suddenly struck with acute stomach pains and began to lose weight quickly. She died of uterine cancer when Dean was nine years old.[6]

Unable to care for his son, Dean's father sent him to live with his sister Ortense and her husband Marcus Winslow on a farm in Fairmount, Indiana,[8] where he was raised in a Quaker household.[9] Winton served in World War II and later remarried. In his adolescence, Dean sought the counsel and friendship of a local Methodist pastor, the Rev. James DeWeerd. DeWeerd seemed to have had a formative influence upon Dean, especially upon his future interests in bullfighting, car racing, and theater.[10] According to Billy J. Harbin, Dean had "an intimate relationship with his pastor, which began in his senior year of high school and endured for many years".[11][12] Their alleged sexual relationship was earlier suggested in the 1994 book Boulevard of Broken Dreams: The Life, Times, and Legend of James Dean by Paul Alexander.[13] In 2011, it was reported that he once confided in Elizabeth Taylor that he was sexually abused by a minister approximately two years after his mother's death.[14] Other reports on Dean's life also suggest that he was either sexually abused by DeWeerd as a child or had a sexual relationship with him as a late teenager.[12][13]

In high school, Dean's overall performance was mediocre. However, he was considered to be a popular student, having played on the baseball and varsity basketball teams, studied drama, and competed in public speaking through the Indiana High School Forensic Association. After graduating from Fairmount High School in May 1949,[15] Dean moved back to California with his dog, Max, to live with his father and stepmother. He enrolled in Santa Monica College (SMC) and majored in pre-law. He transferred to UCLA for one semester,[16] and changed his major to drama,[17] which resulted in estrangement from his father. He pledged the Sigma Nu fraternity but was never initiated.[18] While at UCLA, Dean was picked from a group of 350 actors to portray Malcolm in Macbeth.[19] At that time, he also began acting in James Whitmore's workshop. In January 1951, he dropped out of UCLA to pursue a full-time career as an actor.[20][21]

Acting career

Dean in East of Eden (1955)

Dean's first television appearance was in a Pepsi Cola television commercial.[22] He quit college to act full-time and was cast in his first speaking part, as John the Beloved Disciple in Hill Number One, an Easter television special dramatizing the resurrection of Jesus. Dean worked at the widely filmed Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif during production of the program, for which a replica of the tomb of Jesus was built on location at the ranch.

Dean subsequently obtained three walk-on roles in movies: as a soldier in Fixed Bayonets!, as a boxing trainer in Sailor Beware, a Paramount comedy starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.,[23] and as a youth in Has Anybody Seen My Gal?[24] While struggling to get jobs in Hollywood, Dean also worked as a parking lot attendant at CBS Studios, during which time he met Rogers Brackett,[25] a radio director for an advertising agency, who offered him professional help and guidance in his chosen career, as well as a place to stay.[26][27]

In October 1951, following the encouragement of actor James Whitmore's and his mentor Rogers Brackett's advice, Dean moved to New York City. There he worked as a stunt tester for the game show Beat the Clock. He also appeared in episodes of several CBS television series, The Web, Studio One, and Lux Video Theatre, before gaining admission to the legendary Actors Studio to study method acting under Lee Strasberg.[28] Proud of this accomplishment, Dean referred to the Studio in a 1952 letter to his family as "The greatest school of the theater. It houses great people like Marlon Brando, Julie Harris, Arthur Kennedy, Mildred Dunnock. ... Very few get into it ... It is the best thing that can happen to an actor. I am one of the youngest to belong."[26]

Dean's career picked up and he performed in further episodes of such early 1950s television shows as Kraft Television Theatre, Robert Montgomery Presents, Danger, and General Electric Theater. One early role, for the CBS series Omnibus in the episode "Glory in the Flower", saw Dean portraying the type of disaffected youth he would later immortalize in Rebel Without a Cause. (This summer 1953 program was also notable for featuring the song "Crazy Man, Crazy", one of the first dramatic TV programs to feature rock and roll.) Positive reviews for Dean's 1954 theatrical role as "Bachir", a pandering North African houseboy, in an adaptation of André Gide's book The Immoralist, led to calls from Hollywood.[29]

East of Eden

In 1953, director Elia Kazan was looking for a substantive actor to play the emotionally complex role of 'Cal Trask', for screenwriter Paul Osborn's adaptation of John Steinbeck's 1952 novel East of Eden. The lengthy novel deals with the story of the Trask and Hamilton families over the course of three generations, focusing especially on the lives of the latter two generations in Salinas Valley, California, from the mid-19th century through the 1910s. In contrast to the book, the film script focused on the last portion of the story, predominantly with the character of Cal. Though he initially seems more aloof and emotionally troubled than his twin brother Aron, Cal is soon seen to be more worldly, business savvy, and even sagacious than their pious and constantly disapproving father (played by Raymond Massey) who seeks to invent a vegetable refrigeration process. Cal is bothered by the mystery of their supposedly dead mother, and discovers she is still alive and a brothel-keeping 'madam'; the part was played by actress Jo Van Fleet.[30]

Before casting Cal, Elia Kazan said that he wanted "a Brando" for the role and Osborn suggested the relatively unknown young actor, James Dean. Dean met with Steinbeck who did not like the moody, complex young man personally, but thought him to be perfect for the part. Dean was cast in the role and on April 8, 1954, left New York City and headed for Los Angeles to begin shooting.[31][32][33]

Much of Dean's performance in the film is unscripted,[34] including his dance in the bean field and his fetal-like posturing while riding on top of a train boxcar (after searching out his mother in nearby Monterey). The most famous improvisation of the film occurs when Cal's father rejects his gift of $5,000, money Cal earned by speculating in beans prior to World War I. Instead of running away from his father as the script called for, Dean instinctively turned to Massey and in a gesture of extreme emotion, lunged forward and grabbed him in a full embrace, crying. Kazan kept this and Massey's shocked reaction in the film. Dean's performance in the film foreshadowed his role as Jim Stark in Rebel Without A Cause. Both characters are angst-ridden protagonists and misunderstood outcasts, desperately craving approval from a father figure.

For the 1955 Academy Awards, Dean received a posthumous nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in East of Eden, the first official posthumous acting nomination in Academy Awards history. (Jeanne Eagels was unofficially nominated for Best Actress in 1929, when the rules for selection of the winner were different.) East of Eden was the only film starring Dean that he would see released in his lifetime.

Rebel Without a Cause

Dean quickly followed up his role in Eden with a starring role as Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause, a film that would prove to be hugely popular among teenagers. The film has been cited as an accurate representation of teenage angst.[35] It co-starred teen actors Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, and Dennis Hopper and was directed by Nicholas Ray.


Giant, which was posthumously released in 1956, saw Dean play a supporting role to Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson. This was due to his desire to avoid being typecast as Jim Stark and Cal Trask. In the film, he plays Jett Rink, a Texan ranch hand who strikes oil and becomes wealthy. His role was notable in that, in order to portray an older version of his character in the film's later scenes, Dean dyed his hair gray and shaved some of it off to give himself a receding hairline.

Giant would prove to be Dean's last film. At the end of the film, Dean was supposed to make a drunken speech at a banquet; this is nicknamed the 'Last Supper' because it was the last scene before his sudden death. Dean mumbled so much due to his desire to make the scene more realistic by actually being inebriated for the take that director George Stevens decided the scene had to be overdubbed by Nick Adams, who had a small role in the film, because Dean had died before the film was edited.

For the 1956 Academy Awards, Dean received his second posthumous Best Actor Academy Award nomination for his role in Giant.[3]

Personal life

Screenwriter [36] According to Dean's first biographer (1956),[37] Bast was his roommate at UCLA and later in New York, and knew Dean throughout the last five years of his life. Fifty years after Dean's death, he stated that their friendship had included some sexual intimacy.[38]

While at UCLA, Dean dated Beverly Wills, an actress with CBS, and Jeanette Lewis, a classmate. Bast and Dean often double-dated with them. Wills began dating Dean alone, later telling Bast, "Bill, there's something we have to tell you. It's Jimmy and me. I mean, we're in love."[39]:71 Dean also kept in contact with his girlfriend in New York, Barbara Glenn, whom he dated for two years. Their love letters sold at auction in 2011 for $36,000.[40][41]

Dean in 1955

Early in Dean's career, after Dean signed his contract with Warner Brothers, the studio's public relations department began generating stories about Dean's liaisons with a variety of young actresses who were mostly drawn from the clientele of Dean's Hollywood agent, Dick Clayton. Studio press releases also grouped "Dean together with two other actors, Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter, identifying each of the men as an 'eligible bachelor' who has not yet found the time to commit to a single woman: 'They say their film rehearsals are in conflict with their marriage rehearsals.'"[42]

Dean's best-remembered relationship was with young Italian actress Pier Angeli, whom he met while Angeli was shooting The Silver Chalice on an adjoining Warner lot, and with whom he exchanged items of jewelry as love tokens.[43] Angeli, during an interview fourteen years after their relationship ended, described their times together:

We used to go together to the California coast and stay there secretly in a cottage on a beach far away from prying eyes. We'd spend much of our time on the beach, sitting there or fooling around, just like college kids. We would talk about ourselves and our problems, about the movies and acting, about life and life after death. We had a complete understanding of each other. We were like Romeo and Juliet, together and inseparable. Sometimes on the beach we loved each other so much we just wanted to walk together into the sea holding hands because we knew then that we would always be together.[39]:196

In his autobiography East of Eden, director Elia Kazan dismissed the notion that Dean could possibly have had any success with women, although he remembered hearing Dean and Angeli loudly making love in Dean's dressing room. In 1997, the television movie Race with Destiny was produced,[44] a true-story account of the love affair between Dean and Pier Angeli. It was shot on location "where he lived and loved" until his death.[45]

Despite their strong love for each other, a number of forces led them apart. Angeli's mother disapproved of Dean's casual dress and what were, for her at least, radical behavior traits: his T-shirt attire, late dates, fast cars, and the fact that he was not a Catholic. Her mother said that such behavior was not acceptable in Italy. In addition, MGM, where he worked, tried to talk him out of marrying and he himself told Angeli that he didn't want to get married.[39]:197

After finishing his role for East of Eden, he took a brief trip to New York in October 1954.[39]:197 While he was away, Angeli unexpectedly announced her engagement to Italian-American singer Vic Damone. The press was shocked and Dean expressed his irritation.[46] Angeli married Damone the following month. Gossip columnists reported that Dean watched the wedding from across the road on his motorcycle, even gunning the engine during the ceremony, although Dean later denied doing anything so "dumb."[39]:197

Some, like Bast and Paul Alexander, believe the relationship was a mere publicity stunt.[47][48] Pier Angeli talked only once about the relationship in her later life in an interview, giving vivid descriptions of romantic meetings at the beach. Dean biographer John Howlett said these read like wishful fantasies,[49] as Bast claims them to be.[26]

Actress Liz Sheridan asserts that she and Dean had a short affair in New York.[50] Again Bast is skeptical as to whether this was a true love affair and says Dean and Sheridan did not spend much time together.[26] Dean also dated Swiss actress Ursula Andress. "She was seen riding around Hollywood on the back of James's motorcycle," writes biographer Darwin Porter. She was also seen with Dean in his sports cars, and was with him on the day he bought the car that he died in.[51] At the time, Andress was also dating Marlon Brando. Andress remembered her courtship with Dean: "He came by my house late. He came in room like wild animal, and smell of everything I don't like," she said. "We go hear jazz music and he leave table. Say he go play drums. He no come back. I don't like to be alone. I go home. He come by my home later and say he sorry."[51] She added that Brando was "particularly interested in finding out from Ursula who the better lover was: James Dean or himself. It drove him crazy."[51]

Rumors that Dean avoided the draft by registering as a homosexual appear to be of doubtful authenticity. Not only was he extremely near-sighted and required glasses, he was also a Quaker, either of which was sufficient cause for him to be excused from service.[52]


Auto racing career

Dean and his Porsche Speedster 23F at Palm Springs Races March 1955

In April 1954, after securing the co-starring role of Cal Trask in East of Eden, Dean purchased a 1955 Triumph Tiger T110, 650 cc motorcycle and later, a used red, 1953 MG TD sports car.[53] In March 1955, Dean traded the MG for a new 1955 Porsche Super Speedster purchased from Competition Motors in Hollywood. He traded the Triumph T110 for a 1955 Triumph TR5 Trophy three days after filming wrapped on East of Eden.

Just before filming began on Rebel Without a Cause, Dean entered the Palm Springs Road Races with the Speedster on March 26–27. He finished first overall in Saturday's novice class and second overall in the Sunday main event. Dean also raced the Speedster at Bakersfield on May 1–2, finishing first in class and third overall. His final race with the Speedster was at Santa Barbara on Memorial Day, May 30, where he started in the eighteenth position, worked his way up to fourth, before over-revving his engine and blowing a piston. He did not finish the race.[54] His racing career was put on hold when Warner Brothers barred him from all racing during the production of Giant.[55]

Accident and aftermath

Longing to return to the "liberating prospects" of motor racing, James Dean was scheduled to compete at a racing event in Salinas, California on October 1, 1955. On September 30, 1955, Dean and his Porsche factory-trained mechanic, Rolf Wütherich, were at Competition Motors in Hollywood preparing Dean's new Porsche 550 Spyder for the weekend sports car races at Salinas. Dean originally intended to trailer the Porsche to Salinas behind his 1955 Ford Country Squire station wagon, driven by friend and movie stuntman Bill Hickman, and accompanied by professional photographer Sanford H. Roth, who was planning a photo story of Dean at the races for Colliers Magazine. Because the Porsche did not have enough "break-in" miles prior to the race, Wütherich recommended that Dean drive the Spyder to Salinas to get more "seat time" behind the wheel, and subsequently accompanied Dean on the journey.

The location of Dean's death, renamed "James Dean Memorial Junction"

The group had coffee and doughnuts at the Hollywood Ranch Market on Vine Street across from Competition Motors (not the legendary Farmer's Market at W 3rd St & S Fairfax Ave as erroneously reported) before leaving around 1:15pm PST. They stopped at the Mobil station for gasoline on Ventura Blvd. at Beverly Glen Blvd. in Sherman Oaks around 2:00pm The group then headed north on the Golden State Freeway US 99 (today, the route of Interstate 5) and then over the "Grapevine" toward Bakersfield.[56]

At 3:30pm, Dean was stopped and ticketed by California Highway Patrolman O.V. Hunter at Mettler Station on Wheeler Ridge, just south of Bakersfield, for driving 65 mph (105 km/h) in a 55 mph (89 km/h) zone. Hickman, following behind the Spyder in the Ford with the trailer, was also ticketed for driving 20 mph (32 km/h) over the limit, as the speed limit for all vehicles towing a trailer was 45 mph (72 km/h). After receiving the speeding citations, Dean and Hickman turned left onto Route 166/33 to avoid going through Bakersfield's slow 25 miles per hour (40 km/h) downtown district. Route 166/33 was a known shortcut for sports car drivers going to Salinas called "the racer's road", which took them directly to Blackwells Corner at Route 466 (now State Route 46). At Blackwells Corner, Dean stopped briefly for refreshments and met up with fellow racers Lance Reventlow and Bruce Kessler, who were also on their way to the Salinas road races in Reventlow's Mercedes-Benz 300SL coupe. As Reventlow and Kessler were leaving, they agreed to meet for dinner in Paso Robles.[57]

At approximately 5:15pm, Dean and Hickman left Blackwells Corner, driving west on Route 466 (now State Route 46) toward Paso Robles, approximately 60 miles away. Dean accelerated in the Porsche and left the Ford station wagon far behind. Further along on Route 466, the Porsche crested Polonio Pass and headed down the long Antelope Grade, passing cars along the way toward the junction floor at Route 466 and Route 41. At approximately 5:45pm, a black-and-white 1950 Ford Tudor coupe driven at high speed was headed east on Route 466 just west of the junction near Shandon. Its driver, 23-year-old Cal Poly student Donald Turnupseed, made a left turn onto Route 41 headed north, toward Fresno. As Turnupseed's Ford crossed over the center line, Dean, who was driving at a reported speed of 85 mph (137 km/h), apparently tried to steer the Spyder in a "side stepping" racing maneuver, but with insufficient time and space, the two cars crashed almost head-on. The Spyder flipped up into the air and landed back on its wheels in a gully, northwest of the junction. The sheer velocity of the impact sent the much-heavier Ford broad-sliding 39 feet (12 m) down Route 466 in the westbound lane.[58]

According to a story in the October 1, 2005, edition of the Los Angeles Times,[59] California Highway Patrol Captain Ernest Tripke and his partner, Corporal Ronald Nelson, were finishing a coffee break in Paso Robles when they were called to the scene of the accident at the Route 466/41 junction. Before Officers Tripke and Nelson arrived, James Dean had been extricated from the Spyder's mangled cockpit, his left foot having been crushed between the clutch and brake pedal. Dean was severely injured from the crash with a broken neck and several internal and external injuries. Nelson witnessed an unconscious and dying Dean placed into an ambulance, and a barely conscious Wütherich, who had been thrown from the Spyder, lying on the shoulder of the road next to the wrecked Porsche. Dean and Wütherich were taken in the same ambulance to the Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital, 28 miles (45 km) away. Dean was pronounced dead on arrival at the Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital at 6:20pm.[60]

Though initially slow to reach newspapers in the eastern United States, details of Dean's death rapidly spread via radio and television. By October 2, his death had received significant coverage from domestic and foreign media outlets.[61] Dean's funeral was held on October 8, 1955 at the Fairmount Friends Church in Fairmount, Indiana. An estimated 600 mourners were in attendance, while another 2400 fans gathered outside the building during the procession.[61]

An inquest into Dean's death occurred on October 11, 1955 at the Paso Robles City Hall, where a verdict determined that he was at fault due to reckless speeding, thus absolving Turnupseed of any blame.[62][63]

Ironically, Dean had appeared in an episode of Warner Brothers Presents a few weeks prior to his death. The segment concerned the subject of driver safety and Dean's experience on the road. At the end of the segment, instead of saying the catch phrase "The life you save may be your own", Dean ad-libbed the line "The life you might save might be mine". After his fatal car accident, the segment was never aired.

Legacy and iconic status

Impact on culture and media

American teenagers of the mid-1950s, when James Dean's major films were made, identified with Dean and the roles he played, especially that of Jim Stark in Rebel Without A Cause. This film depicts the dilemma of a typical teenager of the time, who feels that no one, not even his peers, can understand him. Joe Hyams says that Dean was "one of the rare stars, like Rock Hudson and Montgomery Clift, whom both men and women find sexy".[64] According to Marjorie Garber, this quality is "the undefinable extra something that makes a star."[65] Dean's iconic appeal has been attributed to the public's need for someone to stand up for the disenfranchised young of the era,[66] and to the air of androgyny[67] that he projected onscreen. Dean's "loving tenderness towards the besotted Sal Mineo in Rebel Without a Cause continues to touch and excite gay audiences by its honesty. The Gay Times Readers' Awards cited him as the male gay icon of all time."[68]

Dean is mentioned or featured in various songs. The American band Skid Row mentioned him in their song "Forever": "While lightin' cigarettes, like James Dean." [69]The chorus of David Essex's original "Rock On" includes the refrain "Jimmy Dean. James Dean." Dean is mentioned in Rob Zarro's song Infamous Route 66: "I'm seeing really cool things, pictures of Marilyn and James Dean." The Eagles song named after Dean explores his fast and dangerous lifestyle. John Mellencamp mentions James Dean in the lyrics of "Jack & Diane". Lana del Rey repeatedly stated that she was into "James Dean kind of guys" and devoted one of her most acclaimed songs "Blue Jeans" to a former boyfriend who reminded her of the actor. Phil Ochs has a song titled Jim Dean of Indiana.[70] In Hunter Hayes's song Storyline, a line in the first verse says "we got a fast car, a James Dean spirit, and a Norma Jean heart". In addition, James Dean is often noted within television shows, films, books and novels. In an episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation, the character Liberty likens the rebellious, antisocial Sean Cameron to James Dean. On the sitcom Happy Days, Fonzie has a picture of Dean in his closet next to his mirror. A picture of Dean also appears on Rizzo's wall in the film Grease. On the American version of the TV series Queer as Folk, the main character Brian Kinney mentions James Dean together with Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix, saying, "They're all legends. They'll always be young, and they will always be beautiful". In the alternative history book Homeward Bound by Harry Turtledove, Dean is stated to have not died in a car crash and to have made several more films, including Rescuing Private Ranfall, based on Saving Private Ryan. Dean is referenced in Lady Gaga's 2009 song "Speechless", off her album The Fame Monster, in the first verse: "I can't believe how you looked at me with your James Dean glossy eyes". In Taylor Swift's song "Style" on her album 1989, the first line of the chorus references Dean: "You got that James Dean daydream look in your eye." Sleeping with Sirens has a song "If I'm James Dean, You're Audrey Hepburn"

Dean's estate still earns about $5,000,000 per year, according to Forbes Magazine.[71]

On April 20, 2010, a long "lost" live episode of the General Electric Theater called "The Dark, Dark Hours" featuring James Dean in a performance with Ronald Reagan was uncovered by NBC writer Wayne Federman while working on a Ronald Reagan television retrospective.[72] The episode, originally broadcast December 12, 1954,[73] drew international attention and highlights were featured on numerous national media outlets including: CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, and Good Morning America. It was later revealed that some footage from the episode was first featured in the 2005 documentary, James Dean: Forever Young.[74]

Debated sexual orientation

Today, Dean is often considered an icon because of his "experimental" take on life, which included his ambivalent sexuality.[68] There have been several claims that Dean had sexual relationships with both men and women. When questioned about his sexual orientation, he is reported to have said, "No, I am not a homosexual. But I'm also not going to go through life with one hand tied behind my back."[75]

[36] was Dean's first biographer (1956).[76] He published a revealing update of his first book, in which, after years of successfully dodging the question as to whether he and Dean were sexually involved,[77][78] he finally stated that they experimented.[38] In this second book, Bast describes the difficult circumstances of their involvement and also deals frankly with some of Dean's other reported gay relationships, notably the actor's friendship with Rogers Brackett, the influential producer of radio dramas who encouraged Dean in his career and provided him with useful professional contacts.[79]

Robert Aldrich and Garry Wotherspoon include an entry on James Dean in their book on gay and lesbian history,[68] while journalist Joe Hyams suggests that any gay activity Dean might have been involved in appears to have been strictly "for trade", as a means of advancing his career. Val Holley notes that, according to Hollywood biographer Lawrence J. Quirk, gay Hollywood columnist Mike Connolly "would put the make on the most prominent young actors, including Robert Francis, Guy Madison, Anthony Perkins, Nick Adams and James Dean."[80] However, the "trade only" notion is debated by Bast[38] and other Dean biographers.[81] Aside from Bast's account of his own relationship with Dean, Dean's fellow biker and "Night Watch" member John Gilmore claims he and Dean "experimented" with gay acts on one occasion in New York, and it is difficult to see how Dean, then already in his twenties, would have viewed this as a "trade" means of advancing his career.[82]

Screenwriter [84] Bast also shows that Dean had knowledge of gay bars and customs.[85] However, he concludes: "Jimmy was a dabbler, he was learning through experiment… But to say he was gay? That's ridiculous."[86]






Year Title Role Notes
1951 Fixed Bayonets! Doggie Uncredited
1952 Sailor Beware Boxing Trainer Uncredited
1952 Has Anybody Seen My Gal? Youth at Soda Fountain Uncredited
1953 Trouble Along the Way Extra Uncredited
1955 East of Eden Cal Trask Golden Globe Special Achievement Award for Best Dramatic Actor
Jussi Award for Best Foreign Actor
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actor
1955 Rebel Without a Cause Jim Stark Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actor
1956 Giant Jett Rink Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actor


Year Title Role Notes
1951 Family Theater John Episode: "Hill Number One: A Story of Faith and Inspiration"
1951 The Bigelow Theatre Hank Episode: "T.K.O."
1951 The Stu Erwin Show Randy Episode: "Jackie Knows All"
1952 CBS Television Workshop G.I. Segment: "Into the Valley"
1952 Hallmark Hall of Fame Bradford Episode: "Forgotten Children"
1952 The Web Himself Episode: "Sleeping Dogs"
1952–1953 Kraft Television Theatre Various Characters 3 episodes
1952–1955 Lux Video Theatre Various Characters 2 episodes
1953 The Kate Smith Hour The Messenger Episode: "The Hound of Heaven"
1953 You Are There Bob Ford Episode: "The Capture of Jesse James"
1953 Treasury Men in Action Various Characters 2 episodes
1953 Tales of Tomorrow Ralph Episode: "The Evil Within"
1953 Westinghouse Studio One Various Characters 3 episodes
1953 The Big Story Rex Newman Episode: "Rex Newman, Reporter for the Globe and News"
1953 Omnibus Bronco Evans Episode: "Glory in the Flower"
1953 Campbell Summer Soundstage Various Characters 2 episodes
1953 Armstrong Circle Theatre Joey Frasier Episode: "The Bells of Cockaigne"
1953 Robert Montgomery Presents Paul Zalinka Episode: "Harvest"
1953–1954 Danger Various Characters 4 episodes
1954 The Philco Television Playhouse Rob Episode: "Run Like a Thief"
1954 GE True Various Characters 2 episodes
1955 The United States Steel Hour Fernand Lagarde Episode: "The Thief"
1955 Schlitz Playhouse Jeffrey Latham Episode: "The Unlighted Road"
1955 Crossroads Episode: "Broadway Trust"

Biographical films

  • James Dean: Portrait of a Friend aka James Dean (1976) with Stephen McHattie as James Dean[87]
  • James Dean: The First American Teenager (1976), a television biography that includes interviews with Sal Mineo, Natalie Wood and Nicholas Ray.[88]
  • Sense Memories (PBS American Masters television biography) (2005)[89]
  • Forever James Dean (1988), Warner Home Video (1995)[90]
  • James Dean (fictionalized TV biographical film) (2001) with James Franco as James Dean[91]
  • James Dean – Kleiner Prinz, Little Bastard aka James Dean – Little Prince, Little Bastard, German television biography, includes interviews with William Bast, Marcus Winslow Jr, Robert Heller (2005)[92]
  • James Dean: The Final Day features interviews with William Bast, Liz Sheridan and Maila Nurmi. Dean's bisexuality is openly discussed. Episode of Naked Hollywood television miniseries produced by The Oxford Film Company in association the BBC, aired in the US on the A&E Network, 1991.[93]
  • James Dean: Race with Destiny (1997) directed by Mardi Rustam, starring Casper Van Dien as James Dean.
  • Living Famously: James Dean, Australian television biography includes interviews with Martin Landau, Betsy Palmer, William Bast, and Bob Hinkle (2003, 2006).[94]
  • James Dean – Mit Vollgas durchs Leben, Austrian television biography includes interviews with Rolf Weutherich and William Bast (2005).[92]
  • James Dean – Outside the Lines (2002), episode of Biography, US television documentary includes interviews with Rod Steiger, William Bast, and Martin Landau (2002).[95]
  • Two Friendly Ghosts (2012)[96]
  • Life (2014). Directed by Anton Corbijn, starring Dane DeHaan as James Dean.


  1. ^ Obituary Variety, October 5, 1955.
  2. ^ Goodman, Ezra (September 24, 1956). "Delirium over dead star".  
  3. ^ a b David S. Kidder; Noah D. Oppenheim (14 October 2008). The Intellectual Devotional Modern Culture: Revive Your Mind, Complete Your Education, and Converse Confidently with the Culturati. Rodale. p. 228.  
  4. ^
  5. ^ Chris Epting (1 June 2009). The Birthplace Book: A Guide to Birth Sites of Famous People, Places, & Things. Stackpole Books. p. 163.  
  6. ^ a b George C. Perry (2005). James Dean. DK Publishing, Incorporated. p. 27.  
  7. ^ Michael DeAngelis (15 August 2001). Gay Fandom and Crossover Stardom: James Dean, Mel Gibson, and Keanu Reeves. Duke University Press. p. 97.  
  8. ^ Val Holley (September 1991). James Dean: tribute to a rebel. Publications International. p. 18.  
  9. ^ Robert Tanitch (1997). The Unknown James Dean. Batsford. p. 114.  
  10. ^ Marie Clayton (1 January 2004). James Dean: A Life in Pictures. Barnes and Noble Books.  
  11. ^ Billy J. Harbin; Kim Marra; Robert A. Schanke (2005). The Gay & Lesbian Theatrical Legacy: A Biographical Dictionary of Major Figures in American Stage History in the Pre-Stonewall Era. University of Michigan Press. pp. 133–134.  
  12. ^ a b See also Joe and Jay Hyams, James Dean: Little Boy Lost (1992), p.20, who present an account alleging Dean's molestation as a teenager by his early mentor DeWeerd and describe it as Dean's first homosexual encounter (although DeWeerd himself largely portrayed his relationship with Dean as a completely conventional one).
  13. ^ a b Paul Alexander, Boulevard of Broken Dreams: The Life, Times, and Legend of James Dean, Viking, 1994, p. 44.
  14. ^ Sessums, Kevin (March 23, 2011). "Elizabeth Taylor Interview About Her AIDS Advocacy".  
  15. ^ Michael Ferguson (2003). Idol Worship: A Shameless Celebration of Male Beauty in the Movies. STARbooks Press. p. 106.  
  16. ^ "Notable Actors | UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television". 2010-02-11. Retrieved 2010-10-16. 
  17. ^ Karen Clemens Warrick (2006). James Dean: Dream as If You'll Live Forever. Enslow Publishers, Inc. p. 44.  
  18. ^ Richard Alleman (2005). Hollywood: The Movie Lover's Guide : The Ultimate Insider Tour To Movie Los Angeles. Broadway Books. p. 330.  
  19. ^ Joyce Chandler (27 September 2007). James Dean: A Rebel with a Cause: A Fans Tribute. AuthorHouse. p. 73.  
  20. ^ "The unseen James Dean". London: The Times. March 6, 2005. Retrieved January 6, 2010. 
  21. ^ "NOTABLE ALUMNI ACTORS". UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. Retrieved September 29, 2014. 
  22. ^ "1950 Pepsi commercial". YouTube. 1950-12-13. Retrieved 2010-10-16. 
  23. ^ Tony Curtis (6 October 2009). American Prince: A Memoir. Crown Publishing Group. p. 124.  
  24. ^ R. Barton Palmer (2010). Larger Than Life: Movie Stars of the 1950s. Rutgers University Press. p. 79.  
  25. ^ David Wallace (1 April 2003). Hollywoodland. Thorndike Press. p. 105.  
  26. ^ a b c d Bast 2006
  27. ^ On Dean's relationship with Brackett, see also Hyams, James Dean: Little Boy Lost, p.79.
  28. ^ Claudia Springer (17 May 2013). James Dean Transfigured: The Many Faces of Rebel Iconography. University of Texas Press. pp. 14–15.  
  29. ^ Reise, R. The Unabridged James Dean, 1991
  30. ^ Michael J. Meyer; Henry Veggian (2013). East of Eden.: New and Recent Essays.. Rodopi. p. 168.  
  31. ^ Holley, pp. x–196.
  32. ^ Perry, pp. 109–226.
  33. ^ Rathgeb, Douglas L. (2004). The Making of Rebel Without a Cause. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. p. 20.  
  34. ^ Bruce Levene (1994). James Dean in Mendocino: The Filming of East of Eden. Pacific Transcriptions. p. 70.  
  35. ^ Lemire, Christy. "5 most memorable teen-angst movies". MSNBC. 
  36. ^ a b Perry, George, James Dean, London, New York: DK Publishing, 2005, p. 68 ("Authorized by the James Dean Estate")
  37. ^ William Bast, James Dean: a Biography, New York: Ballantine Books, 1956
  38. ^ a b c Bast 2006, pp. 133, 183–232
  39. ^ a b c d e Dalton, David. James Dean: The Mutant King: A Biography, Chicago Review Press (1974) p. 151
  40. ^ "For sale: James Dean's private letters to his girlfriend plus rare photos are up for grabs at auction", Mail Online, Sept. 13, 2011
  41. ^ "James Dean – James Dean Letters Sell For $36,000",, Nov. 25, 2011
  42. ^ Michael DeAngelis, Gay Fandom and Crossover Stardom: James Dean, Mel Gibson and Keanu Reeves, p. 98.
  43. ^ In his 1992 biography, James Dean: Little Boy Lost, journalist Joe Hyams, who claims to have known Dean personally, devotes an entire chapter to Dean's relationship with Angeli.
  44. ^ , TV movie, IMDBRace with Destiny
  45. ^ Brris, George. Barris TV and Movie Cars, MotorBooks International (1996) p. 112
  46. ^ Bast 2006, p. 196
  47. ^ a b Alexander, Paul, Boulevard of Broken Dreams: The Life, Times, and Legend of James Dean, New York: Viking, 1994
  48. ^ Bast 2006, p. 197
  49. ^ John Howlett, James Dean: A Biography, Plexus 1997
  50. ^ Liz Sheridan, Dizzy & Jimmy (ReganBooks HarperCollins, 2000), pp. 144–151.
  51. ^ a b c Porter, Darwin. Brando Unzipped, Blood Moon Productions, Ltd, (2006) p. 484
  52. ^ Melody, Clark (16 April 2010). "The True Story of James Dean". The Hollywood Legend's Shocking Untold Story. Yahoo Voices. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  53. ^ Wasef and Leno (2007) pp. 13–19.
  54. ^ Raskin (2005) pp. 47–48; 68–71; 73–74; 78–81; 83–86
  55. ^ Raskin (2005) pp. 101–02.
  56. ^ Raskin (2007) pp. 111–115.
  57. ^ Raskin (2007) pp.116–118.
  58. ^ Raskin (2007) pp. 122–127.
  59. ^ Chawkins, Steve, "Remembering a 'Giant'", Los Angeles Times, October 1, 2005.
  60. ^ Raskin (2005) p. 129.
  61. ^ a b Perry (2012) pp. 194–95
  62. ^ Beath (2005) pp. 50–51.
  63. ^ Perry (2012) pp. 196–97
  64. ^ Joe Hyams (1 January 1994). James Dean: Little Boy Lost. Grand Central Pub.  
  65. ^ Marjorie B. Garber, Bisexuality and the Eroticism of Everyday Life (2000), p.140. See also "Bisexuality and Celebrity." In Rhiel and Suchoff, The Seductions of Biography, p.18.
  66. ^ Perry, G., James Dean, p. 204, New York, DK Publishing, Inc., 2005
  67. ^ David Burner, Making Peace with the 60s (Princeton University Press, 1997), p.244.
  68. ^ a b c Garry Wotherspoon and Robert F. Aldrich, Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History: from Antiquity to World War II (Routledge, 2001), p.105.
  69. ^
  70. ^ Nathan Brackett; Christian David Hoard (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. p. 599.  
  71. ^ Lisa DiCarlo (October 25, 2004). "The Top Earners For 2004". Forbes. Retrieved February 24, 2006. 
  72. ^ "Rare Film of Ronald Reagan, James Dean Unearthed (April 21, 2010)". CBS News. 2010-04-21. Retrieved 2010-10-16. 
  73. ^ Robert Paul Metzger (1 January 1989). Reagan: American Icon. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 106.  
  74. ^ "Brian Williams NBC News: The Daily Nightly (April 22, 2010)". 1945-04-13. Retrieved 2010-10-16. 
  75. ^ Randall Riese (1991). The unabridged James Dean: his life and legacy from A to Z. McGraw-Hill/Contemporary. p. 239.  
  76. ^ William Bast, James Dean: a Biography, New York: Ballantine Books, 1956.
  77. ^ Riese, Randall, The Unabridged James Dean: His Life from A to Z, Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1991, pp. 41, 238
  78. ^ Alexander, Paul, Boulevard of Broken Dreams: The Life, Times, and Legend of James Dean, New York: Viking, 1994, p. 87
  79. ^ Bast 2006, pp. 133, 150, 183
  80. ^ Val Holley, Mike Connolly and the Manly Art of Hollywood Gossip (2003), p.22.
  81. ^ Donald Spoto, Rebel: The Life and Legend of James Dean (HarperCollins, 1996), pp.150–151. See also Val Holley, James Dean: The Biography, pp.6, 7, 8, 78, 80, 85, 94, 153.
  82. ^ John Gilmore, Live Fast – Die Young: Remembering the Short Life of James Dean (New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1998).
  83. ^ See Lawrence Frascella and Al Weisel, Live Fast, Die Young – The Wild Ride of Making Rebel Without a Cause.
  84. ^ George Perry, James Dean, DK Publishing 2005
  85. ^ Bast 2006, pp. 53–54, 135
  86. ^ Dalton, David. James Dean: The Mutant King: A Biography, Chicago Review Press (1974) p. 151
  87. ^ at IMDB"James Dean". Retrieved 2010-10-16. 
  88. ^ hotfriend1. "James Dean: The First American Teenager". IMDB. Retrieved April 25, 2011. 
  89. ^ at IMDB"Sense Memories". Retrieved 2010-10-16. 
  90. ^ at IMDB"Forever James Dean". Retrieved 2010-10-16. 
  91. ^ at IMDB"James Dean". Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  92. ^ a b film page at IMDBJames Dean – Kleiner Prinz, little Bastard
  93. ^ at IMDB"Naked Hollywood". Retrieved 2010-10-16. 
  94. ^ at IMDBLiving Famously: James Dean
  95. ^ Biography episode page at IMDB
  96. ^ "Two Friendly Ghosts". YouTube. January 12, 2012. Retrieved November 27, 2012. 

Further reading

External links

  • James Dean at the Internet Movie Database
  • James Dean at the Internet Broadway Database
  • James Dean at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
  • AMC's James Dean Photo Gallery: Living Fast and Dying Young
  • James link to "Official" CMG James Dean website
  • 10 James Dean Essentials: Photo Essay on
  • James Dean: Hollywood's Rebel Icon – slideshow by Life
  • James Dean in Hill Number One at the Iverson Movie Ranch
  • Mad about the boy on the Guardian Unlimited.
  • James Dean Gallery site
  • James Dean at Find a Grave, includes photos of Dean's Tombstone.
  • James Dean at American Legends.
  • William Bast, Dean's biographer.
  • The Stuff of Legend: James Dean's Final Ride (Documentary)
  • Iverson Movie Ranch: History, vintage photos.

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