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James Dean Biography 

The Exploding Supernova

The '50's. Period of affluence, fear, isolation, growth and death. While America rebounded from World War II and explored the relaxing world the new-found leisure the Atomic Age ushered in, James Dean sweated and suffered through periods of unemployment, developing his craft on the stage and television, studying at the famed Actor's Studio in New York, and finding success in Hollywood on the silver screen.

James Dean the actor was still a relative unknown to the general public. His fame came with his first starring role in a feature film, East of Eden. His next two, and final films, both released after his untimely death, solidified his fame and imprinted upon the world the beautiful artist we know as James Dean.

Early 1950 - Becomes an announcer at the Santa Monica City College's FM radio station.
Early 1950 - Plays substitute guard on school's basketball team, coached by Samuel Crumbpacker.
Summer, 1950 - In order to make money so that he could attend UCLA in the Fall (against his father's wishes), Jimmy works as a movie house usher and as an athletic instructer at a boys summer camp in Glendora, California, US.
September 9, 1950 - Moves out of the Dean home and transfers to UCLA, majoring in theatre arts and pre-law.
Fall, 1950 - Pledges to the Epsilon Pi chapter of Sigma Nu fraternity. His anti-social behavior and interest in theatre earns the scorn of his brothers, who gave him a "special" initiation rite.
October 10, 1950 - Auditions for and wins role in Macbeth as Malcolm, directed by Dr. Walden Boyle.
October, 1950 - During Macbeth's last dress rehearsal, meets fellow student William "Bill" Bast, who thinks little of Jimmy's acting ability.
November 29, 1950 - Jimmy appears in Macbeth. "The Spotlight," a school theatre arts newsletter, reviews Macbeth, and of Jimmy says that he "failed to show any growth and would have made a hollow king."
December, 1950 - Friend Jim Bellah, son of novelist James Warner Bellah, refers Jimmy to agent Isabelle Draesmer, who, as a favor to Bellah, signs Jimmy and becomes his first agent.
December 13, 1950 - Draesmer gets Jimmy his first professional acting gig - a Pepsi commercial, handing out Pepsi's in Griffith Park (later worked there for Rebel planetarium scenes). He is paid $30 US for his work.

Early 1951 -A fight with one of his frat brothers (allegedly over a homosexual slur regarding Jimmy's interest in theatre) results in Jimmy's expulsion from the frat. He left owing them $45 US in unpaid housing bills.
Early 1951 - Shortly after being thrown out of the frat house, Dean reunites with Bill Bast after telling Bill that they would make a great team. They search for an apartment together and move into a small penthouse. Monthly rent is $300 US per month. Later biographers state the Jimmy and Bill began a homosexual affair during this period.
January, 1951 - Drops out of college to pursue his acting career full-time.
March, 1951 - At Bill's suggestion, Jimmy studies the Stanislavski Method with James Whitmore, a member of New York's Actors Studio. Whitmore influences Dean's decision to study and work in NY. Jimmy later credits Whitmore as being a major influence in his work.
April 1, 1951 (Easter Sunday) - Jerry Fairbanks, producer of the Pepsi commercial, likes Jimmy's performance and hires him for Jimmy's first television episode - "Hill Number One" for Father Peyton's TV Theatre as John the Apostle, earning him $150 US. "Hill Number One" leads to his fist fan club, The Immaculate Heart James Dean Appreciation Society. Attends a IHJDAS function with Bill Bast.
Spring, 1951 - Jimmy works with Bill at CBS (then a radio production studio) as a part-time usher but is soon fired because he refused to conform to the dress code or take orders. Gets new job as a car parker on the CBS lot.
Spring, 1951 - Begins making the Hollywood casting rounds (later biographers detail Dean's alleged rounds on the casting couch).
Spring, 1951 - Moves out of apartment he shared with Bill after revealing that he was having an affair with Bill's girlfriend, Beverly Wills, daughter of commediane Joan Davis.
Spring, 1951 - Takes Beverly to her High School Prom.
Spring, 1951 - Temporarily moves in with fellow usher Ted Avery.
Summer, 1951 - Ends relationship with Beverly.
Summer, 1951 - While parking cars at the CBS lot, meets Rogers Brackett, a 35 year old advertising executive and producer of radio programs. Jim moves in with him. Later biographers state that Jim and Rogers had an on-again, off-again homosexual affair in both California and New York.
Summer, 1951 - Rogers gets Jimmy work in the radio programs "Alias Jane Doe" and "Stars Over Hollywood," as well a bit role in the movie Fixed Bayonets.
July 22, 1951 - Jimmy works on the film Fixed Bayonets. His one line, "it's a rear guard coming back," was cut from the film, but the scene was not.
Summer, 1951 - Draesmer gets Jimmy a bit role in the Martin-Lewis film Sailor Beware. He can be seen briefly during a boxing scene.
Summer, 1951 - Rogers gets Jimmy and extra role on the film Trouble Along the Way with John Wayne and a brief role in Has Anybody Seen My Gal? with Rock Hudson and Charles Coburn. Jimmy plays an annoying teenager trying to get the soda jerk to make him the perfect chocholate malt.
October, 1951 - Jimmy, on the advice of Whitmore, leaves for New York and visits Fairmount and Chicago (staying with Rogers) on his way to NY.
October, 1951 - Arrives in NY and stays at the Iroquois Hotel and the YMCA.
November, 1951 - Gets a job with the popular television game show "Beat the Clock" as a stunt tester.
No Date - Meets dancer Elizabeth "Dizzy" Sheridan at the Rehearsal Club and they eventually live together for a short period of time.

February 20, 1952 - Appears in the television episode "Sleeping Dogs."
March, 1952 - Jimmy moves in with Rogers Brackett.
March 3, 1952 - Appears in the television episode "Ten Thousand Horses Singing."
March 17, 1952 - Appears in the television episode "The Foggy, Foggy Dew."
May, 1952 - Bill Bast follows Jim to NY and they room together at the Iroqouis Hotel -- room 802.
No Date - Signs with agent Jane Deacy.
May 11, 1952 - Appears in the television episode "Prologue to Glory."
May 26, 1952 - Appears in the television episode "Abraham Lincoln."
June 2, 1952 - Appears in the television episode "Forgotten Children."
July, 1952 - Meets actress Christine White, with whom he auditions for the Actors Studio. They perform a scene they wrote called "Ripping Off Layers to Find Roots."
August, 1952 - Performs in a dramatic reading of Franz Kafka's short novel The Metamorphosis.
August, 1952 - Dean becomes the youngest member of the Actors Studio.
August, 1952 - Dean "cons" his way onto broadway producer Lem Ayers' yacht, saying that he's an experienced shipmate. This eventually leads to Ayers' hiring of Dean in the N. Odgen Nash play See the Jaguar.
September, 1952 - Jimmy moves to 46th Street, then 13 West 89th Street, NYC.
November 13-15, 1952 - Jimmy performs in out-of-town tryouts with the play See the Jaguar.
November 30, 1952 - Jimmy hitchhikes with Dizzy and Bill to Indiana and spends Thanksgiving with his family in Fairmount.
December 3, 1952 - Wally Wilkins, his first broadway role in N. Odgen Nash's See the Jaguar, graces the boards but closes on December 6th after only a few performaces after the play (not Dean) received negative reviews.
December 6, 1952 - See the Jaguar closes.

January 15, 1953 - Appears in the television episode "Hounds of Heaven."
January 29, 1953 - Appears in the television episode "The Case of the Watchful Dog."
February 8, 1953 - Appears in the television episode "The Capture of Jesse James."
March 14, 1953 - Appears in the television episode "No Room."
June 16, 1953 - Appears in the television episode "The Case of the Sawed-Off Shotgun."
May 1, 1953 - Appears in the television episode "The Evil Within."
Spring, 1953 - Moves to 19 West 68th Street, NYC.
May 6, 1953 - Appears in the play End as a Man at the Actors Studio.
June 16, 1953 - Jimmy appears in The Scarecrow at the Theatre DeLys.
June 21, 1953 - The Scarecrow closes its doors.
July 17, 1953 - Appears in the television episode "Something for an Empty Briefcase."
August 17, 1953 - Appears in the television episode "Sentence of Death."
August 25, 1953 - Appears in the television episode "Death is my Neighbor."
September 11, 1953 - Appears in the television episode "Rex Neuman, Reporter for the Globe."
October 4, 1953 - Appears in the television episode "Glory In Flower."
October 14, 1953 - Appears in the television episode "Keep Our Honor Bright."
October 16, 1953 - Appears in the television episode "Life Sentence."
November 11, 1953 - Appears in the television episode "A Long Time Til Dawn."
November 17, 1953 - Appears in the television episode "The Bells of Cockaigne."
November 23, 1953 - Appears in the television episode "Harvest."
December 18, 1953 - Jimmy begins rehearsals for The Immoralist.
December, 1953 - Rides his motorbike to Fairmount to spend Christmas with his family.
December 31, 1953 - Rehearsals for The Immoralist resume.

January 9, 1954 - The Immoralist begins its out-of-town try-outs in Philadelphia, PA, US.
February 1, 1954 - The Immoralist begins previews on Broadway.
February 8, 1954 - Opening night on Broadway for The Immoralist. Dean in his two week notice to begin work on East of Eden.
February 12, 1954 - With Eli Wallach and Julie Harris, rehearses and appears in Ezra Pound's translation of Socrates' Women of Trachis.
February 16, 1954 - Dean tests for East of Eden.
February 22, 1954 - Elia Kazan screens Dean for East of Eden.
February 23, 1954 - Jimmy gives his last performance in The Immoralist.
March 5, 1954 - Warner Bros. announces that the "unknown" Dean has been cast in East of Eden.
March 6, 1954 - The New York Times announces that Elia Kazan has signed Jimmy for East of Eden.
March 8, 1954 - Jimmy takes his first airplane flight ever to California with Kazan to begin work in East of Eden. He packs his belongings in a brown paper bag.
March 30, 1954 - Appears in the television episode "The Little Woman" in NYC.
April, 1954 - Temporarily moves in with his father back in Los Angeles.
April 7, 1954 - Signs his contract with Warner Bros. for the role of Cal Trask in East of Eden and is given a salary advance of $700 US.
May, 1954 - Dean moves into an apartment across the street from the Warner Bros. lot and begins screen and photo tests for East of Eden.
May, 1954 - Jimmy buys his first sports car, a used MG TA.
May 20, 1954 - Wardrobe tests for East of Eden are performed.
May 27- June 2, 1954 - Shooting begins for East of Eden in Mendocino, California US.
June 4-June 11, 1954 - East of Eden moves to Salinas for filming, later moving to the Warner Bros. lot to finish the film and shoot interior scenes.
June, 1954 - Begins dating actress Pier Angeli while he was filming East of Eden and she was filming The Silver Chalice, a movie in which he was up for a role (it went to actor Paul Newman, who also tested for Eden with Dean).
July , 1954 - Jimmy moves into his Warner Bros. dressing room.
July 6, 1954 - Jimmy gets a California drivers license.
August 9, 1954 - Filming for East of Eden ends.
August, 1954 - Jimmy moves back to his apartment on West 68th Street in NYC.
September 5, 1954 - Appears in the television episode "Run Like a Thief."
October 7, 1954 - Jimmy's contract with Warner Bros. expires. Warner Bros. extends Jimmy's contract.
November 9, 1954 - Appears in the television episode "Padlocks."
November, 1954 - Jimmy moves back to Hollywood.
November 14, 1954 - Appears in the television show "I am a Fool," filmed in Hollywood.
November 24, 1954 - Ex-girlfriend Pier Angeli marries Vic Damone at the Westwood Church. Jimmy reportedly waited outside of the church during the ceremony and reved his motorcycle's engine while the vows were being said.
December 6, 1954 - East of Eden is screened at the Huntington Park Theatre.
December 12, 1954 - Appears in the television episode "The Dark, Dark Hours" with Ronald Reagan, who was also the host. Filmed in Hollywood.
December 18, 1954 - Jimmy returns to NYC.
December 29, 1954 - Photographer Roy Schatt shoots the famous torn sweater photos of Jimmy.

January 4, 1955 - Warner Bros. announces that Jimmy will star in the feature film Rebel Without A Cause. Performs in the television episode "The Thief."
January 18, 1955 - Jimmy returns to Hollywood and moves into a Sunset Plaza Drive apartment.
January, 1955 - Production meetings with Rebel director Nicholas Ray and Ray's apartment at the Chateau Marmont.
February, 1955 - Returns to Fairmount for the last time with photographer Dennis Stock, who records Jimmy's roots for a Life magazine spread.
February 15, 1955 - Attends the Fairmount High Sweethearts Ball, where he signs autographs and plays bongos with the band.
February, 1955 - Returns to New York with Dennis Stock.
March 6, 1955 - Jimmy returns to Hollywood.
March 1, 1955 - Jimmy buys a 1500cc Porche Super Speedster.
March 7, 1955 - "Moody New Star" James Dean appears in Life. Photos by Dennis Stock.
March 9, 1955 - Warner Bros. holds a celebrity premiere for East of Eden with Marilyn Monroe playing usherette. Jimmy does not attend the bash.
March 10, 1955 - East of Eden has a limited opening to rave reviews. Appears in the televised interview preceding the television episode "The Life of Emile Zola" promoting East of Eden.
March 13, 1955 - An interview with Dean entitled "Another Dean Hits the Big League" is published in The New York Times.
March 16, 1955 - East of Eden officially opens in Los Angeles.
March 23, 1955 - Appears in a Rebel Without A Cause wardrobe test.
March 26, 1955 - Enters the Palm Springs car race.
March 28, 1955 - Rebel Without A Cause begins shooting.
April 2, 1955 - Warner Bros. again extends Jimmy's contract and announces that Jimmy will play the role of Jett Rink in Giant.
April 9, 1955 - East of Eden opens nationwide. Jimmy becomes a star.
April 14, 1955 - Warner Bros. announces that Jimmy will play boxer Rocky Grazziano in MGM's feature film Somebody Up There Likes Me. He would die before shooting begins.
April 25, 1955 - East of Eden is entered into the Cannes Film Festival.
May 1, 1955 - Dean enters the Bakersfield car race.
May 6, 1955 - Appears in the television show "The Unlighted Road."
May 18, 1955 - A pre-production party for Giant is thrown. Jimmy attends.
May 23, 1955 - Shooting begins of the film Giant without Jimmy (his scenes weren't scheduled for filming until later). Jimmy is ordered to not race while working on the film.
May 26, 1955 - Shooting on Rebel Without A Cause ends.
May 28-29 - Jimmy races his car in Santa Barbara, California US.
June 3, 1955 - Jimmy joins the rest of the cast of Giant to work on the film.
June 8, 1955 - The cast of Giant leave for Marfa, Texas US to work of the film.
July 10, 1955 - The cast of Giant return to Hollywood to continue filming.
July, 1955 - Jimmy begins dating Swiss acting beauty Ursula Andress, who was called the "Female Marlon Brando."
July 7, 1955 - East of Eden is released in West Germany.
July 23, 1955 - Jimmy moves into a home in Sherman Oaks.
August 16, 1955 - Jimmy attends a Villa Capri restaurant party for actor Frank Sinatra.
September 17, 1955 - Jimmy makes a 30 second commercial for the National Highway Committee to promote driving safely. His last lines in the commercial (which he adlibbed) are "And remember ... drive safely .. because the life you save may be mine."
September 19, 1955 - Jimmy tests drives the Porche Spyder that he eventually bought and died in at Competition Motors.
September 21, 1955 - Trades his Porche Speedster for a Porsche Spyder 550.
September 22, 1955 - Giant finishes filming.
September 25, 1955 - Jimmy attends a party at the Chateau Marmont (the home of Rebel director Nicholas Ray), thrown in his honor.
September 27, 1955 - Jimmy attends a preview of the film Rebel Without A Cause.
September 29, 1955 - Jimmy attends another party at the Villa Capri.
September 30, 1955 - At 5:45p, Jimmy's Porsche collides with another car at an intersection of routes 466 and 41 near Chalame, California US, and is killed upon impact. The passanger in Jimmy's car, mechanic Rolf Wutherich, is flown from the car and suffers only minor injuries. The driver of the other car, Donald Turnupseed, survives barely injured. Jimmy was to race in Salinas.
October 4, 1955 - Jimmy's body is returned to Fairmount, Indiana.
October 8, 1955 - The funeral for James Dean is held at Back Creak Friends Church in Fairmount, the same church he attended as a child.
October 10, 1955 - East of Eden is released in Sweden.
October 11, 1955 - A coroner's inquest into the death of Dean begins in San Luis Obispo.
October 26, 1955 - Rebel Without A Cause premieres in New York.

October 29, 1955 - Rebel Without A Cause premieres in Los Angeles.
November 11, 1955 - East of Eden premiers in Finland.
December 12, 1955 - Jimmy receives a posthumous award for "Best Actor" from the Audience Award Election.

February 18, 1956 - Jimmy receives a posthumous "Best Actor" Oscar nomination for his work in East of Eden.
March 19, 1956 - Rebel Without A Cause is released in Sweden.
March 21, 1956 - The Academy Awards are held. Jimmy does not win the "Best Actor" award.
October 26, 1956 - Rebel Without A Cause is released in Finland.
November 10, 1956 - Giant opens in New York.
November 17, 1956 - Giant opens in Los Angeles.
November 24, 1956 - Giant opens nationally.

February 13, 1957 - Giant is released in Sweden.
February 18, 1957 - Jimmy is posthumously nominated again for the "Best Actor" Oscar.
March 27, 1957 - Jimmy does not win the "Best Actor" award.
March 29, 1957 - Giant is released in Finland.
October 29, 1957 - East of Eden is released in Denmark.


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Today In James Dean History

February 15, 1955
Jimmy attends the Fairmount High School Sweetheart's Ball, where he signs autographs and plays bongos with the band.

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February 12, 2001
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