skip navigation
James Dean

James Dean

Up
Down

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (3)

Recent DVDs

 
 

Tales Of Tomorrow: Collection Three... Blast off for excitement with television's first science fiction hit! The... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

Tales Of Tomorrow: Collection One... Tales of Tomorrow was The Twilight Zone (or The Outer Limits) of its day, a... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now



Also Known As: James Byron Dean Died: September 30, 1955
Born: February 8, 1931 Cause of Death: car accident
Birth Place: Marion, Indiana, USA Profession: actor, busboy

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

One of the most iconic figures in American cinematic history, James Dean remains forever etched as a brooding, romantic figure, the quintessential 1950s teenager thanks primarily to his roles in "East of Eden" (1955) and "Rebel Without a Cause" (1956). Intelligent and projecting a sexual charisma that appealed to men and women, Dean may be best recalled for his three major movie roles, but behind that small output was a serious-minded, disciplined and trained actor.James Byron Dean was born on February 8, 1931 in Marion, Indiana to a dental technician and his wife. Dean's father relocated the family to California in 1935 but following his mother's untimely death from cancer in 1940, young Jimmy was sent back to Indiana to live with relatives. A star athlete in high school, he also excelled in theatrics and was encouraged by the school's drama teacher Adeline Nall. After graduation, Dean landed his first professional gig, a 1950 TV commercial for Pepsi Cola and then headed West to attend college, but he soon dropped out in favor of pursuing an acting career. After making his TV debut as the Apostle John in "Hill Number One" and landing bit roles in films like "Sailor Beware" (both 1951), he began...

One of the most iconic figures in American cinematic history, James Dean remains forever etched as a brooding, romantic figure, the quintessential 1950s teenager thanks primarily to his roles in "East of Eden" (1955) and "Rebel Without a Cause" (1956). Intelligent and projecting a sexual charisma that appealed to men and women, Dean may be best recalled for his three major movie roles, but behind that small output was a serious-minded, disciplined and trained actor.

James Byron Dean was born on February 8, 1931 in Marion, Indiana to a dental technician and his wife. Dean's father relocated the family to California in 1935 but following his mother's untimely death from cancer in 1940, young Jimmy was sent back to Indiana to live with relatives. A star athlete in high school, he also excelled in theatrics and was encouraged by the school's drama teacher Adeline Nall. After graduation, Dean landed his first professional gig, a 1950 TV commercial for Pepsi Cola and then headed West to attend college, but he soon dropped out in favor of pursuing an acting career. After making his TV debut as the Apostle John in "Hill Number One" and landing bit roles in films like "Sailor Beware" (both 1951), he began studying acting with James Whitmore who encouraged the talented neophyte to move to Manhattan and work with famed teacher/coach Lee Strasberg. Heeding Whitmore's advice, Dean landed in the Big Apple in the fall of 1951 and worked odd jobs (including pre-testing the stunts on TV's "Beat the Clock") until he gained a berth at the Actors Studio. He soon was landing roles on stage ("See the Jaguar", "The Immoralist") and in many of the live television dramas of the day.

By 1954, Dean was put under contract by Warner Bros. to star in Elia Kazan's film version of "East of Eden" (1955). As Cal Trask, the troubled son of a wealthy businessman, he perfectly captured the neurosis and jealousies of the character. While Dean did have a tendency toward over-emoting, the cumulative effect of his performance ultimate proves rewarding to viewers and was recognized by the Academy with a posthumous Oscar nomination as Best Actor.

One can only speculate on what heights (or what depths) Dean may have hit had he not been killed in a car accident on the night of September 30, 1955, Combining the sensitivity of a Montgomery Clift with the incoherent, explosive anger and sexuality of a Marlon Brando, James Dean came to epitomize the phrase "rebel without a cause". His hypnotic, angst-ridden turn in the 1955 film of that name (released less than a month after his death) struck a chord with teenagers the world over and solidified his reputation as the voice of his generation. Dean's early death forever froze him as that surly but sensitive teenager and made him the epitome of all that was "cool". His third and last film, "Giant" (1956), was a sweeping generational epic and his strong turn as the lonely tortured Jett (which netted a second Best Actor Academy Award nomination) helped raise the material above its soap opera-ish qualities.

While critics were divided over Dean's work in his own time (Bosley Crowther in The New York Times called him a "mass of histrionic gingerbread" in "East of Eden" but praised his "stylized spookiness" in "Giant"), history has upheld his popularity and seen dozens upon dozens of emerging actors hailed as "the new James Dean". A virtual cottage industry for the literary set with over a dozen biographies, Dean and his life also have been plumbed by filmmakers ranging from Robert Altman (the 1957 documentary "The James Dean Story") to Mark Rydell (2001's TV biopic "James Dean"). Not since Valentino had a film actor attracted such legions of fans in life and in death.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Magnet, The (2000) (Archival Footage)
2.
 Giant (1956) Jett Rink
3.
 Rebel Without a Cause (1955) Jim Stark
4.
 East of Eden (1955) CalebTrask
5.
 Sailor Beware (1952) Sailor
6.
 Has Anybody Seen My Gal (1952) Youth in drugstore
7.
 Fixed Bayonets! (1951) Doggie
8.
 George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey (1984) Himself (Archival Footage)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1935:
Family moved from Indiana to L.A.
1940:
Sent to live with aunt and uncle in Indiana after mother's death
1949:
Returned to California following high school graduation
1950:
Appeared in TV commercial for Pepsi Cola; also featured was Nick Adams
1951:
TV acting debut as John the Apostle in "Hill Number One"; aired on April 1
1951:
Screen debut (as extra) in "Fixed Bayonets"; also appeared as an extra in "Sailor Beware"
1951:
Moved to NYC (September)
1951:
Hired to pre-test the stunts for the TV series "Beat the Clock"
1952:
Delivered first on screen line ("Hey Gramps, I'll have a choc malt, heavy on the choc, plenty of milk, four spoons of malt, two scoops of vanilla ice cream, one mixed and one floating") in "Has Anybody Seen My Gal?"
1952:
Appeared on Broadway in "See the Jaguar"
1953:
Acted in numerous TV productions including "Kate Smith Hour: Hound of Heaven" (NBC), "You Are There!: The Capture of Jesse James" (CBS), and "Studio One Summer Theatre: Sentence of Death" (CBS)
1953:
Appeared in NYC production of "The Scarecrow"
1954:
Final Broadway appearance in "The Immoralist" portraying an Arab boy
1954:
Signed contract with Warner Bros. (April)
1954:
Co-starred with Mildred Dunnock in the TV presentation "Padlocks" (an episode of CBS' "Danger")
1954:
Portrayed a killer who runs afoul of a country doctor (Ronald Reagan) in "General Electric Theatre: The Dark, Dark Hours"
1954:
Starred opposite Natalie Wood and Eddie Albert in the TV production "I'm a Fool"
1955:
Final TV acting appearance in the "Schlitz Playhouse" presentation of "The Unlighted Road"
1955:
Achieved star status in "East of Eden"; earned posthumous Best Actor Oscar nomination
1955:
Killed when his Porsche Spyder sports car collided with another car; he had received a speeding ticket earlier in the day and a few days before had appeared in a safe-driving commercial for the National Highway Committee (September 30)
:
Last films, "Rebel Without a Cause" (1955) and "Giant" (1956) released posthumously; garnered second Best Actor Academy Award nomination for the latter
1957:
Profiled in the documentary "The James Dean Story"
1976:
"James Dean", an NBC biopic with Stephen McHattie as the actor, aired
1961:
Received posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
1975:
Subject of British made documentary "James Dean, the First American Teenager"
1988:
"Forever James Dean", a documentary screened as part of Cinemax's "Crazy About the Movies"
1995:
Disney Channel aired the documentary "James Dean: A Portrait"
1996:
Honored by US Postal Service with a commemorative stamp
1997:
Casper Van Dien portrayed Dean in the feature film "James Dean: Race with Destiny"
2001:
"James Dean", starring James Franco and directed by Mark Rydell, aired on TNT
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

McKinley School: Santa Monica , California - 1936 - 1940
Fairmount High School: Fairmount , Indiana - 1945 - 1949
Santa Monica Junior College: Santa Monica , California - 1950 - 1951
Actors Studio: New York , New York - 1952

Notes

There is an official Web site at www.jamesdean.com

"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." --James Dean

"Being a good actor isn't easy. Being a man is even harder. I want to be both before I'm done." -- James Dean GQ September 2002

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Rogers Brackett. Producer. Dean allegedly was "kept" by Brackett.
companion:
Liz Sheridan. Actor. Revealed she had relationship with Dean in the early 1950s; wrote memoir "Dizzy & Jimmy".
companion:
Pier Angeli. Actor. At one time engaged to be married.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Winton Dean. Dental technician. Died February 21, 1995 at age 88.
mother:
Mildred Marie Dean. Born on September 15, 1910; married Winton Dean on July 29, 1930; died of cancer in April 1940.
aunt:
Ortense Winslow. Helped raised Dean after mother's death.
uncle:
Marcus Winslow. Helped raise Dean after mother's death.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"James Dean: A Portrait"
"James Dean: Shooting Star"
"Rebel: The Life and Legend of James Dean"
"The Mutant King" St. Martin's Press
"The Death of James Dean" Grove Press
"James Dean: A Biography"
"James Dean: Behind the Scenes" Carol Publishing Group
"Boulevard of Broken Dreams: The Life, Times, and Legend of James Dean" Viking
"James Dean: The Biography" St. Martin's Press
"James Dean: A Bio-Bibliography" Greenwood Press
"The James Dean Story: A Myth-Shattering Biography of an Icon" Citadel Press
"Live Fast, Die Young: Remembering the Short Life of James Dean"
"James Dean: The Untold Story of a Passion for Speed" Mediavision Inc.
"Dizzy & Jimmy" ReganBooks
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute