About James Dean
James Byron Dean, son of a dental technician and a farmer's daughter, Winton A. and Mildred Wilson Dean, was born February 8, 1931, in the "Seven Gables" apartment house at 4th and McClure Street in Marion, Indiana.
Mr. and Mrs. Dean, with their young son, moved to Fairmount shortly after his birth.
During their time in Fairmount, they lived in three homes within the town's limits
and in a small home located at the north edge of the Winslow farm. When Jimmy
was five, the family moved to California. Dean's mother died of cancer when he
was nine and was buried in Grant Memorial Park, Marion. The family decided that
Jimmy should live with his aunt and uncle, Marcus and Ortense Winslow and his
cousin Joan on their farm north of Fairmount. At the age of 13, Jimmy's cousin
Marcus Jr. was born.
James Dean started school at Fairmount West Ward (Old Academy), and entered
Fairmount High School in 1945, where he was very successful in sports, drama,
art, and band. At graduation exercises in May of 1949, he received dramatic, art,
and athletic awards. He also placed first in the Indiana State Contest of the national Forensic League, with his presentation of "The Madman" by Dickens, and sixth in the National contest at Longmont, Colorado
After graduation, he enrolled in Santa Monica City College, California to study pre-law. In 1950, he transferred to U.C.L.A. where he majored in drama for two years before leaving for New York.
Jimmy pounded the pavement of Broadway for two years seeking a "break" on the stage. His first
role was in the play “See The Jaguar” with Arthur Kennedy and Constance Ford. Later, as the
blackmailing Arab in “The Immoralist,” he won the Daniel Blum Award as the most promising
newcomer of 1954 and a movie contract with Elia Kazan for “East of Eden.” He also appeared in
some of the best television programs, including Schlitze Playhouse, Studio One, and Kraft Theater.
Jimmy had looks, appeal, talent, a serious attitude toward his profession, and a keen desire to become a director. His friends and co-workers felt his sensitivity and talent. Rugged sports were a necessity in his life. Often at Warner Brothers Studio, he would spar with an athletic coach. His first purchase in Hollywood was a beautiful
The movie-going public first saw James Dean on the screen in “East of Eden” with Julie Harris. In
this film, Jimmy was an overnight sensation. For his performance in “East of Eden,” he was
nominated for an Academy Award. He received the first Audience Poll Award for Best Actor in 1955. Fame and fortune seemed his. In his second film, “Rebel Without a Cause,” he was supported by co-stars, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo.
Palomino horse, next a motorcycle, and finally his
$7000 German-made sports car, a Porsche Spyder 550. During
the filming of “Giant” with Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson, the
studio forbade him to engage in any kind of racing. The day after
the film was completed, Jimmy was happily preparing for one of
the year's most important and exciting sports car events. He left
Los Angeles headed for the race in his Porsche—suddenly at the
intersection of Routes 46 and 41 near Cholame, a car appeared—a
collision and death came instantly to Dean, age 24, on September 30, 1955. Jimmy was brought back to Fairmount and laid to rest in the Winslow family plot in Park Cemetery, Fairmount, a short distance from the farm on which he grew up. Funeral services were held at the Fairmount Friends Church on October 8, 1955.