James Dean

Timeline created by abbmorr
  • The Beginning

    The Beginning
    Born James Byron Dean in Marion, Indiana to Winton Dean (January 17, 1907 – February 21, 1995) and Mildred Wilson (September 15, 1910 – July 14, 1940). His background is mainly English with smaller amounts of German, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, and Dutch ancestry.
  • Moves to California

    Moves to California
    His father, who was a farmer, changed his career and became a dental technition when James was six years old. They moved to Santa Monica, California where he went to Brentwood Public School before he was enrolled in McKinly Elementary School.
  • Death and Indiana

    Death and Indiana
    James felt like his mother was the only one who understood him and when he was nine years old, after four years of his mother being sick, she died of uterine cancer. Soon after her death he was sent to live with his aunt and uncle in Fairmount, Indiana where they held a Quaker household.
  • The Minister

    The Minister
    After he had passed away his "Giant" co-star, Elizabeth Taylor, revealed that, when he was 11 years old, Dean "began to be molested by his minister." Other celebrities have shared similar stories about Dean although the age he was when it occured varies. 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."
  • The Change-Up

    The Change-Up
    James began his first semester at Santa Monica College majoring in pre-law. After one semester he transfered to the University of California at Los Angles (UCLA) and switched his major to drama.
  • Pepsi Cola Commercial

    Pepsi Cola Commercial
    This was James' first television appearance and subsequently his first professional acting job. He was paid $30 and danced around a jukebox with other teenagers while singing "Pepsi-Cola hits the spot..."
  • Hill Number One

    Hill Number One
    (pictured right) James was soon cast in his first speaking part, as John the Beloved Disciple in Hill Number One, an Easter television special dramatizing the resurrection of Jesus. He also worked at the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, California during filming of the program. This inspired the Immaculate Heart James Dean Appreciacion Society formed by the local Catholic girl's school.
  • Fixed Bayonets!

    Fixed Bayonets!
    James scored his first part in a movie directed by Sam Fuller, Fixed Bayonets! starring Richard Basehart. He only had one line, "Its's a rear guard coming back," that was eventually cut in editing.
  • The Move

    The Move
    While at UCLA he began acting in James Whitmore's workshop. Whitmore inspired James to become a full-time actor and move to New York. James dropped out of UCLA and follow his mentor's advice. There, he worked as a stunt tester for the game show "Beat the Clock" but was fired for performing the assignments too quickly. He also appeared in episodes of several TV shows that aired on CBS including "The Web", "Studio One", and "Lux Video Theatre".
  • Sailor Beware

    Sailor Beware
    (pictured centre) James plays the part of a boxing cornerman in Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis' comedy.
  • Has Anybody Seen My Gal?

    Has Anybody Seen My Gal?
    James has an uncredited role as a young man in one of the soda fountain scenes. The movie stars Rock Hudson and Dean says, "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." to Charles Coburn.
  • Theatre

    (pictured right) Dean performed a dramatic reading of Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" at the Village Theatre in New York. Later, in October, he landed a Broadway role in "See the Jaguar" where he played a boy who has been locked in an icehouse by his mother his entire life.
  • The "Image"

    The "Image"
    James Dean's role in the episode, "Glory in the Flower" (Omnibus) of the moody, socially estranged teenager is immortalized later in "Rebel Without a Cause" where he plays James Stark.
  • The Contract

    The Contract
    James Dean signs a contract with Warner Brothers for the role of Cal Trask in "East of Eden", and they give him a $700 advance.
  • East of Eden

    East of Eden
    Dean was cast as the angsty, misunderstood outcast seeking his father's approval after the screenwriter, Paul Osborn, suggested him to the director, Elia Kazan. Kazan wanted a "Brando" type and Osborn believed Dean would be the perfect actor. Most of his lines were improvised, including the scene with his emotional hug with Raymond Massey, who plays his father in the movie.
  • Rebel Without a Cause

    Rebel Without a Cause
    Warner Bros. announced that James Dean would be starring in "Rebel Without a Cause" as Jim Stark. This movie became highly popular with teenagers who were easily able to identify with the moody character he played.
  • Beginning of the End

    Beginning of the End
    Dean bought a Porsche Super Speedster and won races at Pacific Palisades and Pasadena. His success prompts him to enter a two day meet at Palm Springs
  • Giant

    Warner Bros. extended James Dean's contract and announced that he would be playing Jett Rink in "Giant" alongside Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson. His purpose in taking this part was to avoid his consecutive angsty characters and being typecast. This would be James Dean's third and final movie, and would be released after his passing.
  • Racing

    Races his car again in Santa Barbara, California.
  • Irony

    Dean makes a 30-second car safety commercial for the National Highway Safety Committee two weeks before his death in a car accident. His final line is, "Take it easy driving. The life you might save might be mine."
  • The Upgrade

    The Upgrade
    Dean trades his Porsche Super Speedster for a Porsche Spyder 550. He gets it painted by George Barris with "130" and "Little Bastard" on the side.
  • "Highway to Hell"

    "Highway to Hell"
    On his way to compete in Salinas, California with his stunt driver, Rolf Wüthrich, James Dean drove through an intersection and into the side of a Ford on the highway. He broke his neck, and was killed instantly. Wüthrich and the driver of the Ford survived.
  • The Golden Globes

    The Golden Globes
    Won the Special Achievement Award for East of Eden. Award given posthumously for best dramatic actor.
  • The Oscars

    The Oscars
    Nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role for East of Eden. This was the first posthumous acting nomination in Academy Awards history.
  • A Secret

    A Secret
    After Dean had passed on his friend, William Bast, revealved that they had been in a five-year relationship until the end. In the biography he wrote for Dean entitled, "James Dean: A Biography" he says "they met at UCLA, shared an apartment in Santa Monica, dated the same woman, and also had a sexual relationship."
  • The Golden Globes (Part 2)

    The Golden Globes (Part 2)
    Won the Henrietta Award for male world film favorite.
  • The Oscars (Part 2)

    The Oscars (Part 2)
    Nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Giant. This was James Dean's second consecutive posthumous nomination.
  • Walk of Fame

    Walk of Fame
    James Dean wins his own star on the Walk of Fame.
  • Online Film & Television Association

    Online Film & Television Association
    Won the OFTA Film Hall of Fame Award for acting.