Friday, February 8, 2013
Actor James Dean was born on February 8, 1931, in Marion, Indiana. He grew up in California, then in Fairmount, Indiana, with his aunt after his mother’s death. Though raised a Quaker, his life and career interests were influenced by a Methodist pastor, Rev. James DeWeerd, with whom he was sexually involved. In 1951 Dean moved to New York, studied at the Actors Studio and worked briefly in television. A theater role led to his starring performance in Elia Kazan’s “East of Eden” (1955), which foreshadowed his role as Jim Stark in “Rebel Without A Cause” (1955). Both characters are angst-ridden, misunderstood outcasts who crave a father figure’s approval. Dean was twice Oscar-nominated for Best Actor, as Cal Trask in “Eden” (his only movie that he viewed in its entirety) and as Jet Rink in “Giant” (1956). He died during filming of the latter in September 1955 when he crashed his Porsche Spyder in California.