James Dean

From ArticleWorld

James Dean was an American-born film and television actor whose short life and career had a tremendous impact on the shaping of the 1950’s popular culture. James Byron Dean was born in Marion, Indiana on February 8, 1931.


Family Life

He spent 6 years in a farming community with his parents Winton and Mildred Dean. The family moved to Southern California where his father would pursue a career as a dental technician. After his mother’s death in 1940, James was sent to live with his aunt and uncle in Indiana where he graduated high school. He then moved back to California to attend college with the intention of studying pre-law. He ultimately decided against that major and began pursuing a degree in drama.


Dean started out performing in many commercials – he even dropped out of college to focus on acting. However he had to resort to odd job to make ends meet. In light of the scarce Hollywood jobs, he moved to New York to study live stage acting. He landed roles in many televisions programs after that and ultimately gravitated to film-making. He returned to Hollywood to begin his film career. Perhaps one of his most noted roles at the time was in East of Eden in 1955 for which he received an academy award nomination. This segued into starring roles in Rebel Without a Cause and Giant (which was released after his death.)

Live Fast

Dean purchased a 550 Porsche Spyder in late 1955. He nicknamed his car “Little Bastard.” It was this purchase that would prove to be his un-doing.

Die Young

On September 30, 1955, James Dean was hit almost head-on by an oncoming car on California Highway 466. There were numerous speculations of Dean driving at excessive speeds, although California Highway Patrol officer, Ron Nelson, reported that he couldn’t have been going more than 55 mph. Not so in the case of the other driver, however. Donald Turnupseed was reported to be far exceeding the posted speed limit and yet escaped the accident with minor injuries. James Dean was pronounced dead on arrival at Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital. He was 24 years old.