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James Byron Dean (February 8, 1931 – September 30, 1955) was an American film actor. Dean's mainstream status as a cultural icon is best embodied in the title of his most cited role in Rebel Without a Cause. His enduring fame and popularity rests on only three films, his entire starring output. He was the first person to receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and remains the only person to have two such nominations posthumously.

Early life

Born at "The House of the Seven Gables", since razed, at the intersection of 4th and McClure Streets in Marion, Indiana to Winton and Mildred Wilson Dean, James Dean and his family moved to Santa Monica, California, six years after his father had left farming to become a dental technician. The family spent some years there, and by all accounts young Jimmy was very close to his mother. According to Michael DeAngelis, she was "the only person capable of understanding him."[1] He was enrolled in Brentwood Public School until his mother died of cancer in 1940. Dean's "moodiness and antisocial behavior are consistently attributed to her loss," and even in later years he still attempted to regain his mother's "sense of understanding in all of his relationships with women during his acting career."[2]

Unable to care for his nine year old son, Winton Dean sent young Dean to live with Winton's sister Ortense and her husband Marcus Winslow on a farm in Fairmount, Indiana, where he entered high school and was brought up with a Quaker background. Here Dean sought the counsel of, and formed an enduring friendship with a Methodist pastor, who seems to have had a formative influence upon the teenager, especially upon his future interests in bull fighting, motor racing and the theater. According to Billy J. Harbin, "Dean had an intimate relationship with his pastor, Dr. James DeWeerd, which began in his senior year of high school and 'endured for many years.' "[3]

In high school, Dean's overall performance was mediocre, but he successfully played on the baseball and basketball team and studied forensics and drama. After graduating from Fairmount High School on May 16, 1949, Dean moved back to California with his beagle, Maxx, to live with his father and stepmother.

He enrolled in Santa Monica College (SMCC), pledged to the Sigma Nu fraternity and majored in pre-law. Dean transferred to UCLA and changed his major to drama, which resulted in estrangement from his father. While at UCLA, he beat out 350 actors to land the role of Malcolm in Macbeth. At that time, he also began acting with James Whitmore's acting workshop. In January 1951, he dropped out of college to pursue a career as an actor.

Acting career

Marlon Brando is often thought to have been a great influence on James Dean. Dean was not only accused of copying his acting style, but also his rebel lifestyle. However, according to William Russo, "The first James Dean was not Marlon Brando, though it was a popular myth. The Dean persona had always been adolescent in age or psychology." Brando's first film "was about adult military veterans, hardly the subject of teenage angst and conflict."[4]

Dean began his professional acting career with a Pepsi Cola television commercial,[5] followed by a stint as a stunt tester for the Beat the Clock game show. He quit college to focus on his budding career, but struggled to get jobs in Hollywood and paid his bills only by working as a parking lot attendant at CBS Studios.

At that time, Dean "exchanged sexual favors for a place to live" and for "Hollywood contacts."[6] Interviews with his friend Barbara Glenn and then aspiring actress, Arlene Sachs, who told Dean she loved him, "reveal that Dean's relationships included many brief homosexual encounters."[7] In his biography, "The James Dean Story," literary critic Ron Martinetti deals only with one of these "homosexual relationships", namely, that in his early days in Hollywood and New York with Rogers Brackett, a radio director for an advertising agency whom Dean met in the summer of 1951 while working as a parking attendant at CBS.[8] However, according to Leigh W. Rutledge, "Dean bragged to a friend that he'd performed homosexual acts with 'five of the big names in Hollywood.' He also claimed to have worked, with his friend Nick Adams, as a street hustler after he first arrived in Hollywood."[9]

He actually had very small parts in several films before achieving stardom. The first film in which he spoke was Sailor Beware, where he played a boxing trainer. The Paramount comedy starred Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

Following actor James Whitmore's advice, Dean moved to New York City to pursue live stage acting, where he was accepted to study under Lee Strasberg in the storied Actors Studio. Dean was very proud of being a member of the Actors Studio. In 1952, in a letter to his family, he called it "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." His career picked up and he did several episodes on early-1950s TV shows such as Kraft Television Theater, Studio One, Lux Video Theatre, Robert Montgomery Presents, Danger and General Electric Theater. One early role, for the CBS series, Omnibus, (Glory in the Flower) saw Dean portraying the same 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 music). Positive reviews for his role in André Gide's The Immoralist led to calls from Hollywood and paved the way to film success. In 1954, he returned to Broadway in The Immoralist.

East of Eden

Main article: East of Eden (1955 film)

Director Elia Kazan was looking for a new young actor to play the role of Cal in East of Eden; Dean and another relatively unknown actor, Paul Newman, were the final two chosen. Following a screen test in New York City, the part was given to Dean (a portion of the screen test in which the two joke in a homoerotic manner can be seen here [1]).

On March 8, 1954, Dean left New York City and headed for Los Angeles to begin shooting East of Eden. Dean played the son of a constantly disapproving father (played by Raymond Massey).

He received a posthumous Best Actor in a Leading Role Academy Award nomination for this role, (the first posthumous acting nomination in Academy Awards history).

Rebel Without a Cause

Main article: Rebel Without a Cause
File:Rebel Without a Cause screenshot.jpg

James Dean with Natalie Wood in Rebel Without a Cause.

Dean quickly followed up his role in "Eden" with a starring role in Rebel Without a Cause, a film that would prove to be hugely popular among teenagers. The film is widely cited as an accurate representation of teenage angst. It co-starred Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo, and was directed by Nicholas Ray.

William Russo says that "Nick Ray's world of the teenager rebel contained knife-fights, drag racing (a baptism named 'chicky run'), stolen cars, underage drinking, social worker, high school scene (...), dumb police, police station scene, death of teens by speeding car and gunshot, dysfunctional families, a teenage gang with both male and female members," etc., and that Rebel Without a Cause "unleashed a spate of teen-oriented films, both with message and without."[10]

Director Nicholas Ray often encouraged Dean’s creative input. However, "Verbal battles with his directors increased in each film as James Dean became more sure of himself as a director ... He demanded and was allowed to direct scene after scene from Rebel Without a Cause by Nick Ray, and he became so engrossed in throttling his on-screen father that a few cognoscenti wondered if he knew the difference between his performance and his life."[11]

In her study on bisexuality, Professor Marjorie Garber writes that Ray, when he directed Rebel Without a Cause, "was not averse to using Jimmy's bisexuality to good purpose. The director knew that Sal was homosexual and encouraged him to explore that part of him that would love Jimmy. At the same time, according to Ray, Jimmy fell in love with Sal."[12] "The studio heads refused to allow Nick Ray to film a kiss between James Dean and Sal Mineo that the director had proposed."[13] At the actor's insistence, Jack Simmons played "one of the members in the gang in Rebel Without a Cause, a pay-off for reportedly servicing as James Dean's live-in-boyfriend."[14] This rumor, however, was contradicted by Dean's close friend and confidant William Bast, who states that Dean specifically insisted to him that Simmons and he had no sexual involvement, that Simmons was only a groupie who "ran routine errands for him."[15]


Main article: Giant (film)

Giant, which was posthumously released in 1956, saw Dean play a supporting role to that of both Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson. His role was notable in that, in order to portray an older version of his character in one scene, Dean dyed his hair grey and shaved some of it off to give himself a receding hairline.

Giant would be Dean’s last film. Towards the end of the film, an artfully aged Dean is at a banquet set to make a speech. This would be his last ever on-screen appearance. That scene has been dubbed “The Last Supper”. Reportedly, as Dean portrayed the drunken Jett Rink, the actor mumbled so much that co-stars Nick Adams and Dennis Hopper had to re-record the dialogue, since Dean had died by the time the film was being edited.

Dean was nominated for a second Academy Award after the release of the film.

Racing career and "Little Bastard"

When Dean got the part in East of Eden, he bought himself a red race-prepared MG TD and shortly afterwards, a white Ford Woodie station wagon. Dean upgraded his MG to a Porsche 356 Speedster (Chassis number: 82621), which he raced. Dean came in second in the Palm Springs Road Races in March 1955 after a driver was disqualified; he came in third in May 1955 at Bakersfield and was running fourth at the Santa Monica Road Races later that month, until he retired with an engine failure.

During filming of Rebel Without a Cause, Dean traded the car in for one of only 90 Porsche 550 Spyders. He was contractually barred from racing during the filming of Giant, but with that out of the way, he was free to compete again. The Porsche was in fact a stopgap for Dean, as delivery of a superior Lotus Mk. X was delayed and he needed a car to compete at the races in Salinas, California.

Dean's 550 was customized by the young George Barris, (who would go on to the design of the Batmobile). Dean's Porsche was numbered 130 at the front, side and back. The car had a tartan on the seating and two red stripes at the rear of its wheelwell. The car was given the nickname "Little Bastard" by Bill Hickman, his language coach on Giant. When Dean introduced himself to Alec Guinness outside a restaurant, he asked him to take a look at the Spyder. Guinness thought the car appeared "sinister" and told Dean: "If you get in that car you will be found dead in it by this time next week." This encounter took place on September 23, 1955.[16]



Porsche 550 Spyder

Dean and his mechanic Rolf Wuetherich set off from Competition Motors, where they had prepared his Porsche 550 Spyder that morning for a sports car race at Palm Springs. Dean originally intended to trailer the Porsche to the meeting point at Salinas, behind his new Ford Country Squire station wagon, crewed by Hickman and photographer Stanford Roth, who was planning a photo story of Dean at the races. At the last minute, Dean drove the Spyder, having decided he needed more time to familiarize himself with the car. At 3:30PM, Dean was ticketed in Kern County for doing 65 in a 55 mph zone. The driver of the Ford was ticketed for doing 20 mph over the limit, as the speed limit for all vehicles towing a trailer was 45 mph. Later, having left the Ford far behind, they stopped at Blackwell's Corner for fuel and met up with fellow racer Lance Reventlow.

Dean was driving west on U.S. Highway 46 (later California State Route 466) near Cholame, California when a 1950 Ford Tudor, driven from the opposite direction by 23-year-old Cal Poly student Donald Turnupseed, attempted to take the fork onto California State Route 41 and crossed into Dean's lane without seeing him. The two cars hit almost head on. According to a story in the October 1, 2005 edition of the Los Angeles Times,[17] California Highway Patrol officer Ron Nelson and his partner had been finishing a coffee break in Paso Robles when they were called to the scene of the accident, where they saw a heavily-breathing Dean being placed into an ambulance. Wuetherich had been thrown from the car, but survived with a broken jaw and other injuries. Dean was taken to Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival at 5:59PM. His last known words, uttered right before impact, are said to have been "That guy's got to stop... He'll see us."

File:James dean3.jpg

Junction of highways 46 and 41

Contrary to reports of Dean's speeding, which persisted decades after his death, Nelson said "the wreckage and the position of Dean's body indicated his speed was more like 55 mph (88 km/h)." Turnupseed received a gashed forehead and bruised nose and was not cited by police for the accident. He died of lung cancer in 1995. Rolf Wuetherich would die in a road accident in Germany in 1981. While completing Giant, and to promote Rebel Without a Cause, Dean had recently filmed a short interview with actor Gig Young for an episode of "Warner Bros. Presents"[18] wherein he ad-libbed the popular phrase "The life you save may be your own" instead into "The life you save may be mine." Dean's sudden death prompted the studio to re-film the section, and the piece was never aired - though in the past several sources have referred to the footage, mistakenly identifying it as a public service announcement. (The segment can, however, be viewed on both the 2001 VHS and 2005 DVD editions of Rebel Without a Cause.). BMW once made a commercial with the footage of the infamous clip and reconstruction of the crash, which cuts into a scene indicating that Dean would be alive if he had driven one of their models, the commercial was never shown due to poor taste but is aired in programs such as Tarrant on TV.


File:James Dean Memorial.JPG

James Dean Memorial in Cholame. Dean died about 900 yards east of this tree.

James Dean is buried in Park Cemetery in Fairmount, Indiana. In 1977, a Dean memorial was built in Cholame, California. The stylized sculpture, composed of concrete and stainless steel around a tree of heaven growing in front of the Cholame post office was made in Japan and transported to Cholame, accompanied by the project's benefactor, Seita Ohnishi. Ohnishi chose the site after examining the location of the accident, now little more than a few road signs and flashing yellow signals. In September, 2005, the intersection of Highways 41 and 46 in Cholame (San Luis Obispo county) was dedicated as the James Dean Memorial Highway as part of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of his death. (Maps of the intersection Template:Coor dms)

The dates and hours of Dean's birth and death are etched into the sculpture, along with a handwritten description by Dean's close friend, William Bast, of one of Dean's favorite lines from Antoine de Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince - "What is essential is invisible to the eye."

The James Dean Gallery ( opened in 2004 in Indiana, but closed due to financial problems at the end of February 2006.

Dean's iconic appeal

Dean's appeal is that he portrayed the teens of America. They identified with Dean and the roles he played, especially in 'Rebel Without A Cause.'The typical teenager, caught where no one, mostly not even his(or her) peers can understand them. Joe Hyams says that Dean was "one of the rare stars, like Rock Hudson and Montgomery Clift, who both men and women find sexy." However, according to Marjorie Garber, this quality is not rare, "it is the undefinable extra something that makes a star."[19] Dean's iconic appeal has been attributed to the aura of youthful pain and confusion and to androgyny[20] he projected on screen. 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..."[21]

Dean's personal relationships and sexual orientation

Dean is today often considered a gay film icon.[22]

There have been several accounts of Dean's sexual relationships with both men and women. William Bast was one of Dean's closest friends, a fact acknowledged by Dean's family.[23] Dean's first biographer (1956),[24] Bast was his roommate at UCLA and later in New York, and knew Dean throughout the last five years of his short life. Bast has recently published a revealing version of his first book, in which, after years of successfully dodging the question as to whether he and Dean were sexually involved[25][26] he has finally admitted that they were (Surviving James Dean, 2006).[27] In his second book Bast describes the difficult circumstances of this involvement and also deals frankly with some of Dean's other homosexual relationships, notably the actor's friendship with Rogers Brackett, an influential producer of radio dramas who encouraged Dean in his career and provided him with useful professional contacts.[28]

Journalist Joe Hyams suggests that any homosexual acts Dean might have involved himself in appear 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."[29] However, the "trade only" notion is debated by Bast[30] and other Dean biographers.[31] Indeed, 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 homosexual 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.[32]

In his Natalie Wood biography, Gavin Lambert, himself homosexual and part of the Hollywood gay circles of the 50s and 60s, describes Dean as being bisexual. Rebel director Nicholas Ray has also gone on record to say that Dean was bisexual.[33] Consequently, Robert Aldrich and Garry Wotherspoon's book Who's Who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History: From World War II to the Present Day (2001) includes an entry on James Dean. William Russo also confirms that Dean's bisexuality was well known.

As for Dean's relationships with women, 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.' "[34] Dean is best remembered for his relationship with a 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.[35] Angeli's mother was reported to have disapproved of the relationship because Dean was not a Catholic. In his autobiography, East of Eden director Elia Kazan, while dismissing the notion that Dean could possibly have had any success with women, paradoxically alluded to Dean and Angeli's "romance," claiming that he had heard them loudly making love in Dean's dressing room. For a very short time the story of a Dean-Angeli love affair was even promoted by Dean himself, who fed it to various gossip columnists and to his co-star, Julie Harris, who in interviews has reported that Dean told her about being madly in love with Angeli. In any event, Dean soon found himself dumped by Angeli in favor of singer-actor Vic Damone, whom she married. Some friends of Dean still maintain that he was heartbroken over Angeli's marriage, although Bast reports that Dean seemed merely angered at being dumped, and losing out in what he saw chiefly as a contest of wills between himself and Angeli's mother.[36]

Actress and Seinfeld star Liz Sheridan claims that she and Dean had a short affair in New York. In her memoir detailing this, she also states that Dean was having a sexual involvement with Rogers Brackett, and describes her negative response to this situation.[37]

Contrary to popular notions, Gavin Lambert wrote in his Wood biography that Natalie Wood's casting in Rebel Without a Cause did not lead to a romance with co-star James Dean: "Like many people, she was fascinated by his charm. He had this magnetic quality on the screen and in life... They got on very well, they liked each other a lot," but there was no affair and no sexual relationship.[38]


James Dean was the first — and is one of five — to have been posthumously nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award and the only one so nominated twice. His estate still earns about $5,000,000 per year, according to Forbes Magazine.[39] James Dean has received more fan mail posthumously than any other person.

Along with Blackboard Jungle, Dean's Rebel Without a Cause is frequently cited as having symbolized the growing post-war rebellion of 1950s teenagers as well as playing a part in the emergence of rock and roll as a lasting cultural phenomenon. Many young people of that and later generations modeled themselves after James Dean.

His charismatic screen presence and very brief career combined with the publicity surrounding his death at a young age transformed Dean into a cult figure. His name is mentioned in countless songs, movies, and is a pop icon of apparently timeless fascination. Some examples of this:

  • Phil Ochs wrote a biographical song about James Dean called "Jim Dean of Indiana" and released it on what would be his final album.
  • James Dean was noted by writer/director George Lucas and actor Hayden Christensen as a direct inspiration for the latter's portrayal of Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
  • In John Mellencamp's song Jack and Diane, the second verse talks about Jack "scratching his head and does his best James Dean." The next line starts with "Well then there" a sequence of words uttered to Jim Backus in Rebel Without a Cause.
    • Mellencamp has also produced or co-produced several of his albums under the pseudonym "Little Bastard," a reference to Dean's car.
  • British singer Daniel Bedingfield's second single from his 2002 album, Gotta Get Thru This, is titled, "James Dean (I Wanna Know)." "James Dean" is only said in the song's first line, "I could be the James Dean of the music scene." Ironically, Bedingfield himself was seriously injured in a car accident on New Year's Day 2004.
  • The Smiths, song "Stretch out and Wait", Morrissey uses lines from "Rebel without a cause" the lines from the movie in the song are "As we lie, you say : Will the world end in the night time ? (I really don't know) Or will the world end in the day time ? (I really don't know) And is there any point ever having children ? Oh, I don't know. What I do know is we're Here and it's Now". Also, the first solo video from Morrissey for the song "Suedehead" shows him walking around sites in Fairmount Indiana, home of James Dean and acting out famous Dean photos by photographer Dennis Stock (in a black torn sweater; playing os; riding a tractor etc...)
  • The song "The Boy with the Thorn in His Side" by The Smiths is said to be written about Dean by Morrissey who is a Dean fan.
  • Dean's also mentioned in Billy Joel's history themed song "We Didn't Start the Fire".
  • Dean is unflatteringly referred to as "just a careless driver" in British indie band Half Man Half Biscuit's song "99% Of Gargoyles Look Like Bob Todd".
  • Don McLean also mentions Dean in "American Pie", the line goes "When the jester sang for the king and queen, in a coat he borrowed from James Dean..." an allusion to the young Bob Dylan's (the jester of the song) fascination with the 50's idol.
  • Dean is mentioned in the song "moviestar" made by Harpo.
  • Dean is mentioned in Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side."
  • Dean is also mentioned in American rock group Bon Jovi's song "These Days", the line goes "I guess she's tryin' to be James Dean".
  • Singer Hilary Duff has a song, Mr. James Dean, which is a tribute to the actor.
  • Rapper Jay-Z's song "Allure" off The Black Album (Jay-Z) lines mention "Even James Dean couldn't escape the allure/ Dying young, leaving a good looking corpse."
  • Referenced in the Nas song "Blunt Ashes", featured on the 2006 album, Hip Hop Is Dead.
  • Popular Band Senses Fail refers to James Dean in their song "Choke on this", the line goes "You can be my James Dean, I'll be your sweet queen."
  • Dean is mentioned in Rufus Wainwright's song "Peach Trees" from his album "Want Two": "And I really do wish you were here next to me, cos I'm going to see James Dean."
  • Dean was said to be inspiration for the monologue at the beginning of Placebo (band)'s song "This Picture (song)" and is mentioned in their song "2468": "He kicked me out of the house and he burnt all my pictures of sweet Jimmy Dean."
  • Dean is the subject of the John Prine song "Picture Show".
  • The Eagles recorded a song called "James Dean" on their album On The Border. The lyrics note that Dean was "too fast to live, too young to die."
  • Dean is mentioned by British indie band Space in their song "A Little Biddy Help from Elvis": "Buddy Holly and Jimmy Dean could come to our wedding in the sky"
  • Deana Carter mentions Dean in her song "One Day At A Time" the line goes: "And Thelma and Louise, you got nothing on me, and you can tell ol' James Dean to get in line".
  • Dean is mentioned in David Essex's hit single Rock On, in the line "See her shake on the movie screen, Jimmy Dean (James Dean)".
  • Dean is one of the stars referenced in Madonna's song Vogue.
  • Rock group The Goo Goo Dolls has a song titled "James Dean", off of their album "Jed", where the subject dreams of being just like Dean, until 'And then you go and you tell me/that you found out Dean was gay...'
  • Dean is mentioned in Sensation White Edition 2006
  • Alternative band Anberlin mentions James Dean, "so mysterious - shadows meet James Dean"
  • In Brian K. Vaughan's comic series Runaways, the titular characters meet up twice at the James Dean memorial at Griffith Observatory. The comic contains several other references to Dean and Rebel Without A Cause.
  • The Frank and Walters' song "This is not a song" contains the line "This song is not about old James Dean 'cause he's mentioned in too many songs already".
  • Dean has also been referenced in several country music songs, including Shenandoah's "I Wanna Be Loved Like That" with the opening lyric "Natalie Wood gave her heart to James Dean," and Sawyer Brown's "Some Girls Do" with the lyric "You was laughing at me, I was doing James Dean."
  • James Dean is mentioned in Rob Z's (Robert Zarro) song California"The first Star I seen said James Dean
  • Elvis Presley was a noted admirer of James Dean due to his rebellious image and persona. According to David Burner, "Both Dean and Elvis Presley conveyed a smoldering sexuality at the same time both threatening and androgynous."[40]
  • Rock band REM mention Dean in their song 'Electrolite'. The lyrics are:
Hollywood is under me.
I'm Martin Sheen
I'm Steve McQueen
I'm Jimmy Dean
  • Creator Matt Groening revealed in the Futurama Vol. 1 DVD Commentary that the character Fry was specifically drawn dressed like Dean, in the iconic red jacket, white t-shirt and blue jeans.
  • Alternative band the Killers mentions James Dean in their song titled "Under the Gun"
  • Lesław, vocalist and guitarist of Polish rockabilly band Komety is a big James Dean fan; his first band had a song called "Chcialbym Umrzec Jak James Dean" ("I Want to Die Like James Dean").
  • Canadian singer-songwriter Kat Goldman mentions Dean in her song "Damn Town", off her 2006 CD, "Sing Your Song". The line goes "You're in your white t-shirt, looking very Jimmy Dean"
  • English rock band Bloc Party references Dean in the song "Helicopter." The lyrics are:
So James Dean
So blue jeans
Gonna save the world
He's gonna
  • In the song Cadillac Ranch by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, James Dean is mentioned in the line "James dean in a mercury `49..."
  • Hardcore band Every Time I Die references Dean on their 2001 Last Night in Town album on the song "Here's Lookin' At You". The lyric reads, "Making James Dean speeches to an empty room." The song also makes mentions of other legendary Hollywood figures such as Jimmy Stewart, Marilyn Monroe, and Audrey Hepburn.

The curse of "Little Bastard"

Since Dean's death, his Porsche 550 Spyder has been infamous as being the vehicle that killed not only him, but for injuring and killing several others in the years following his death.

Over the years, many people have come to believe that the actor's vehicle and all of its parts were cursed. Legendary Hot Rodder George Barris bought the wreck for $2,500, only to have it slip off its trailer and break a mechanic's leg.

Soon afterwards, Barris sold the engine and drive-train to physicians Troy McHenry and William Eschrid respectively. While racing against each other, the former would be killed instantly when his vehicle spun out of control and crashed into a tree, while the latter would be seriously injured when his vehicle rolled over while going into a curve.

Barris later sold two tires, which malfunctioned as well. The tires, which were unharmed in Dean's accident, blew up simultaneously causing the buyer's automobile to go off the road.

Two young would-be thieves were injured while attempting to steal parts from the car. One tried to steal the steering wheel from the Porsche; his arm ripped open on a piece of jagged metal. Later, another man was injured while trying to steal the bloodstained front seat. This would be the final straw for Barris, who decided to store "Little Bastard" away, but was quickly persuaded by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to loan the wrecked car in a highway safety exhibit.

The first exhibit from the CHP featuring the car ended unsuccessfully, as the garage storing the Spyder went up in flames, destroying everything except the car itself, which suffered almost no damage whatsoever from the fire. The second display, at a Sacramento High School, ended when the car fell, breaking a student's hip. "Little Bastard" also found itself causing trouble while being transported several times. On its way to Salinas, the truck containing the vehicle lost control, causing the driver to fall out, only to be crushed by the Porsche after it fell off the back. On two separate occasions, once on a freeway and again in Oregon, the car came off other trucks, although no injuries were reported, another vehicle's windshield was shattered in Oregon.

Its last use in a CHP exhibit was in 1959. In 1960, when being returned to George Barris in Los Angeles, California, the car mysteriously vanished. It has not been seen since.


  • Fixed Bayonets (1951)
  • Sailor Beware (1952)
  • Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (1952)
  • Trouble Along the Way (1953)
  • East of Eden (1955)
  • Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
  • Giant (1956)



  • See the Jaguar, (1952)
  • The Immoralist (1954) - based on the book by Andre Gide


  • The Metamorphosis (1952) - based on the novella by Franz Kafka
  • The Scarecrow (1954)
  • Women of Trachis (1954) - translation by Ezra Pound


  • Father Peyton's Family Theatre, "Hill Number One" (April 1; Easter Sunday, 1951)
  • The Web, "Sleeping Dogs" (February 20, 1952)
  • Studio One, "Ten Thousand Horses Singing" (March 3, 1952)
  • Lux Video Theater, "The Foggy, Foggy Dew" (March 17, 1952)
  • Kraft Television Theater, "Prologue to Glory" (May 21, 1952)
  • Studio One, "Abraham Lincoln" (May 26, 1952)
  • Hallmark Hall of Fame, "Forgotten Children" (June 2, 1952)
  • The Kate Smith Show, "Hounds of Heaven" (January 15, 1953)
  • Treasury Men In Action, "The Case of the Watchful Dog" (January 29, 1953)
  • You Are There, "The Capture of Jesse James" (February 8, 1953)
  • Danger, "No Room" (April 14, 1953)
  • Treasury Men In Action, "The Case of the Sawed-Off Shotgun" (April 16, 1953)
  • Tales of Tomorrow, "The Evil Within" (May 1, 1953)
  • Campbell Soundstage, "Something For An Empty Briefcase" (July 17, 1953)
  • Studio One Summer Theater, "Sentence of Death" (August 17, 1953)
  • Danger, "Death Is My Neighbor" (August 25, 1953)
  • The Big Story, "Rex Newman, Reporter for the Globe and News" (September 11, 1953)
  • Omnibus, "Glory In Flower" (October 4, 1953)
  • Kraft Television Theater, "Keep Our Honor Bright" (October 14, 1953)
  • Campbell Soundstage, "Life Sentence" (October 16, 1953)
  • Kraft Television Theater, "A Long Time Till Dawn" (November 11, 1953)
  • Armstrong Circle Theater, "The Bells of Cockaigne" (November 17, 1953)
  • Robert Montgomery Presents the Johnson's Wax Program, Harvest (movie)|Harvest (November 23, 1953)
  • Danger, "The Little Women" (March 30, 1954)
  • Philco TV Playhouse, "Run Like A Thief" (September 5, 1954)
  • Danger, "Padlocks" (November 9, 1954)
  • General Electric Theater, "I'm A Fool" (November 14, 1954)
  • General Electric Theater, "The Dark, Dark Hour" (December 12, 1954)
  • U.S. Steel Hour, "The Thief" (January 4, 1955)
  • Lux Video Theatre, "The Life of Emile Zola" (March 10, 1955) - appeared in a promotional interview for East of Eden shown after the program aired
  • Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, "The Unlighted Road" (May 6, 1955)

Further reading

Biographical Films

  • [2]James Dean: Portrait of a Friend aka James Dean (1976)
  • [3] Sense Memories (PBS American Masters television biography) (2005)
  • [4]Forever James Dean (1988), Warner Home Video (1995)
  • James Dean (fictionalized TV biographical film) (2001)


  1. Michael DeAngelis, Gay Fandom and Crossover Stardom: James Dean, Mel Gibson and Keanu Reeves (Duke University Press, 2001), p.97,
  2. DeAngelis, p.97.
  3. For more details concerning this homosexual relationship, see Billy J. Harbin, Kim Marra and Robert A. Schanke, eds., The Gay And Lesbian Theatrical Legacy: A Biographical Dictionary Of Major Figures In American Stage History in the Pre-Stonewall Era (University of Michigan Press, 2005), 133. 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 portrayed his relationship with Dean as a completely conventional one).
  4. William Russo, The Next James Dean, p.52.
  5. Youtube: 1950 Pepsi commercial
  6. Billy J. Harbin, Kim Marra and Robert A. Schanke, eds., The Gay And Lesbian Theatrical Legacy, p.134.
  7. Harbin, Marra and Schanke, The Gay And Lesbian Theatrical Legacy, p.134.
  8. On Dean's relationship with Brackett, see also Hyams, James Dean: Little Boy Lost, p.79.
  9. Leigh W. Rutledge, The Gay Book of Lists (2003), p.27. See also Randall Riese, The Unabridged James Dean: His Life and Legacy from A to Z (1991), 239.
  10. William Russo, The Next James Dean: Clones And Near Misses, 1955-1975 (2004), p.23.
  11. Russo, The Next James Dean, p.38.
  12. Marjorie B. Garber, Vice Versa: Bisexuality and the Eroticism of Everyday Life (2000), p.140. See also Marjorie Garber, "Bisexuality and Celebrity." In Mary Rhiel and David Suchoff, eds., The Seductions of Biography (1995), p.18. Jeffery P. Dennis, Queering Teen Culture: All-American Boys and Same-Sex Desire in Film and Television (2006), p.39.
  13. William Russo, The Next James Dean: Clones And Near Misses, 1955-1975 (2004), p.38.
  14. Russo, The Next James Dean, p.22.
  15. Bast, William, Surviving James Dean, New Jersey:Barricade Books, 2006, pp. 212-213
  16. Alec Guinness, Blessings in Disguise [Random House, 1985, ISBN 0-394-55237-7], ch. 4 (pp. 34-35)
  17. Chawkins, Steve, "Remembering a 'Giant'", Los Angeles Times, October 1, 2005.
  18. Plot Summary for "Warner Brothers Presents". Retrieved on February 24, 2006.
  19. 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.
  20. David Burner, Making Peace with the 60s (Princeton University Press, 1997), p.244.
  21. Garry Wotherspoon and Robert F. Aldrich, Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History: from Antiquity to World War II (Routledge, 2001), p.105.
  22. PopcornQ Movies. Retrieved on December 5, 2005.. See also Garry Wotherspoon and Robert F. Aldrich, Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History: from Antiquity to World War II, p.105
  23. Perry, George, "James Dean", London, New York: DK Publishing, 2005, p. 68 ("Authorized by the James Dean Estate")
  24. William Bast, "James Dean: a Biography", New York: Ballantine Books, 1956)
  25. Riese, Randall, The Unabridged James Dean: His Life from A to Z, Chicago: Comtemporary Books, 1991, pp. 41, 238
  26. Alexander, Paul, Boulevard of Broken Dreams: The Life, Times, and Legend of James Dean, New York: Viking, 1994, p. 87
  27. Bast, William: "Surviving James Dean" (Barricade Books, 2006), pp. 133, 183-232.
  28. See Bast, "Surviving James Dean," pp. 133, 150, 183.
  29. See Val Holley, Mike Connolly and the Manly Art of Hollywood Gossip (2003), p.22.
  30. William Bast, Surviving James Dean (Barricade Books, 2006), pp.133, 183-232.
  31. 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.
  32. John Gilmore, Live Fast - Die Young: Remembering the Short Life of James Dean (New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1998).
  33. See Lawrence Frascella and Al Weisel, Live Fast, Die Young – The Wild Ride of Making Rebel Without a Cause.
  34. Michael DeAngelis, Gay Fandom and Crossover Stardom: James Dean, Mel Gibson and Keanu Reeves, p.98.
  35. 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.
  36. William Bast, Surviving James Dean (2006).
  37. Liz Sheridan, Dizzy & Jimmy (ReganBooks HarperCollins, 2000), pp. 144-151.
  38. Gavin Lambert, Natalie Wood: A Life (Faber and Faber, 2004).
  39. Lisa DiCarlo (October 25, 2004). The Top Earners For 2004. Retrieved on February 24, 2006.
  40. David Burner, Making Peace with the 60s (Princeton University Press, 1997), p.244.

External links

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