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James Dean BiographyJames Dean was raised on a farm by his aunt and uncle in Fairmount, Indiana. He received rave reviews for his work as the blackmailing Arab boy in the New York production of Gide's "The Immoralist", good enough to earn him a trip to Hollywood. His early film efforts were strictly bit parts: a sailor in the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis overly frantic musical comedy Sailor Beware; a GI in Samuel Fuller's moody study of a platoon in the Korean War, Fixed Bayonets! and a youth in the Piper Laurie-Rock Hudson comedy Has Anybody Seen My Gal?. He had major roles in only three movies. In the Elia Kazan production of John Steinbeck's East of Eden he played Caleb, the "bad" brother who couldn't force affection from his stiff-necked father. His true starring role, the one which fixed his image forever in American culture, was that of the brooding red-jacketed teenager Jim Stark in Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without a Cause. George Stevens' filming of Edna Ferber's Giant, in which he played the non-conforming cowhand Jett Rink, was just coming to a close when Dean, driving his Porsche Spyder, collided with another car in Cholame, California. He had received a speeding ticket just two hours before. His very brief career, violent death and highly publicized funeral transformed him into a cult object of apparently timeless fascination.
SalaryGiant (1956): $21,000
Rebel Without a Cause (1955): $10,000
East of Eden (1955): $1,000/week
Trivia. Chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#42).  The famous Failure Analysis Associates, from Menlo Park, California, re-constructed and re-created all details of the accident at the same approximate time on September 30th and have concluded that James Dean was travelling 55 to 56 m.p.h. when the fateful accident occurred, thereby proving he had not been speeding, as rumor had it. He also worked as a "stunt tester" on the game show "Beat the Clock" (1950), testing the safety of the stunts that some of the studio audience members would later perform. However he proved so agile at completing the stunts that his results couldn't be used to set time limits for contestants to complete them. So he was reluctantly let go. Reportedly, Dean was very much in love with Pier Angeli and they planned to marry, but her mother blocked the union because Dean wasn't Catholic and she helped arrange Pier's marriage to Vic Damone. Before she committed suicide, Pier wrote that Dean was the only man she had ever really loved. Won the Bloom Award as "Best Newcomer" for early Broadway work in "The Immoralist". Eagles penned a lyric about him that went: "Too fast to live, too young to die." Grandson of Charles Dean and Emma Dean. Cousin of Marcus Winslow Jr. Only actor in history to receive more than one Oscar nomination posthumously. Pledged Sigma Nu fraternity but dropped out of college before being initiated. Donald Turnupseed, the driver of the other car involved in Dean's accident, died of cancer in 1995. Turnupseed couldn't swerve out of the way of Dean's Porsche Spyder, but he successfully swerved journalists who frequently pestered him for interviews about the accident. East of Eden (1955) was the only one of the three movies in which he had major roles to be released while he was alive. Contrary to popular belief, Dean's middle name was not taken from Lord Byron, but from a relative, "Byron" Dean. At the time of his death, Dean did not leave behind a will, so most of his possessions went to his father, Winton Dean, whose relationship with him was distant at best. Dean's acting breakthrough came on Broadway in the drama "See the Jaguar", despite its run of less than a week (only 4 days). Referenced by name in the John Mellencamp song "Jack and Diane". Was a graduate from Santa Monica College, a California junior college that boasts its elite drama program. Went on to UCLA but left after appearing in one stage production, as Malcolm in "Macbeth", as he was anxious to get his acting career started. Marlon Brando, in his 1994 autobiography "Songs My Mother Taught Me", says that Dean, who idolized him, based his acting on him and his lifestyle on what he thought Brando's lifestyle was. Elia Kazan, in his 1988 autobiography "A Life", says that during the production of East of Eden (1955), he had to have Dean move into a bungalow near his on the Warner Bros. lot to keep an eye on him, so wild was his nightlife. His favorite book was "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Was named #18 greatest actor on The 50 Greatest Screen Legends list by the American Film Institute. Hilary Duff's 2005 "Most Wanted" album includes the song "Mr. James Dean", which is all about him. Had a fondness for auto racing and had purchased the 1955 Porsche Spyder sports car, one of only 90 made of that year model, planning to participate in the upcoming races in Salinas, CA on Oct 1, 1955. One of the many personalities mentioned in Billy Joel's song "We Didn't Start the Fire" (1989). Aping Marlon Brando, he also bought a Triumph motorcycle. Instead of Brando's 650cc 6T Thunderbird model, which he used in the film, The Wild One (1953), he bought the smaller 500cc TR5 Trophy model. This Triumph featured in a famous series of photographs by Phil Stern, the motorcycle itself being recovered, restored and currently displayed at the "James Dean Museum" in Fairmount, Indiana. President Ronald Reagan referred to Dean as "America's Rebel". His tastes in music were eclectic. He liked African Tribal music and Afro-Cuban music, as well as classical (Béla Bartók, Igor Stravinsky); jazz/blues(Billie Holiday) and pop (Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra). His favorite song was Billie Holiday's "When Your Lover Has Gone" and his favorite album was Sinatra's "Songs for Young Lovers". His final screen test for East of Eden (1955) was shot with Paul Newman, who also was in the final running for one of the roles. Originally, director Elia Kazan had considered casting Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift in the roles of the two brothers, but they were too old to play teenagers as they were both in the their 30s in 1954. Newman's age, 29, also put him at a disadvantage. Dean, 23 years old and Richard Davalos, aged 19, were cast as the fraternal twins. Signed a nine-picture, $1-million deal with Warner Bros. before his death. He did not live long enough to honor it. According to Marlon Brando, Dean would often call him, leaving messages with Brando's answering service. Brando would sometimes listen, silently, as Dean instructed the service to have Brando call back. Brando, disturbed that Dean was copying his life-style (motorcyle, bongo drums) and acting techniques, did not return his calls. The two met at least three times: on the set of East of Eden (1955); on the set of Desirée (1954) and at a party, where Brando took Dean aside and told him he had emotional problems that required psychiatric attention. Was good friends with Martin Landau. Just before his death, his agent, Jane Deacy, negotiated a 9-picture deal over 6 years with Warner Bros. worth $900,000. Dean's next project was to be a television version for NBC of Emlyn Williams' play "The Corn is Green", in which he was to star with Judith Anderson. His next film was to be Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), a biopic of boxer Rocky Graziano, for which Warners were loaning him to MGM and in which he was replaced by Paul Newman. Newman also replaced him in the role of Billy the Kid in The Left Handed Gun (1958). Three other roles with which he was being linked were the leads in Gun for a Coward (1957), This Angry Age (1958) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958). He was given a Siamese cat as gift by Elizabeth Taylor. Referenced by name in the Skid Row song, "Forever" ("wild cigarettes like James Dean"). Mentioned in Don McLean's hit song "American Pie". His closest and most intimate friend for the last five years of his life was William Bast. His father inherited his estate, which was valued at the time of his death at $96,438.44 after taxes. The bulk of the estate came from his life insurance policy as well as $6,750 in insurance claims from his Porsche Spyder. His checking account had a balance of $3,256.48. At the time of his death, he was signed to play in "The Battler" on the "Playwrights '56" (1955) television series. The role went instead to Paul Newman. Mentor and friend of Dennis Hopper.
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