By Raymond Fernandez
James Bryon Dean was born was born on February 8, 1931, at the Seven Gables apartment on the corner of 4th Street and McClure Street in Marion, Indiana. He was the only child to Mildred
Marie Wilson and Winton Dean. The family moved to Santa Monica when he six.
By all accounts, James was very close to his mother. According to report, she was the only person capable of understanding him. In 1938, she was suddenly struck with acute stomach pain and quickly began to lose weight. She died of uterine cancer when James was nine years old. Unable to care for his son, Dean’s father sent him to live with his aunt and uncle on their farm in Fairmount, Indiana, where he was raised in their Quaker household
When his mother passed, James accompanied her body back via train. When the train would stop, he would run the very back of the train to make sure that her body was still there. She
introduced James to theatre and poetry, giving him the middle name of Byron, naming him after George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, simply known as Lord Byron the English poet.
In October 1951, following the encouragement of actor James Whitmore and the advice of his mentor Rogers Brackett, Dean moved to New York City. He lived at Nineteen West 68th Street, the Iroquois Hotel and over a barbershop. He made a few commercials and had small bit parts in various films before he was swept off to Hollywood in 1954 to star in ‘East of Eden’.
He is remembered as a cultural icon of teenage disillusionment and social estrangement, as expressed in the title of his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause.
James Dean died on September 30, 1955 on a lonely desolate Highway near Salinas California. He was driving his new Porsche 550 Spyder driving westbound on Route 466. At approximately 5:45 pm, a 1950 Ford Tudor, driven by a 23 year old student Donald Turnupseed was travelling east. Turnupseed made a left turn onto Highway 41, ahead of the speeding Porsche. Dean, unable to stop, slammed into the passenger side of the For. His car bounced across the pavement onto the side of the highway. He was trapped in the car, sustained numerous fatal injuries, one witness stated it seemed that Dean’s death appeared to be instantaneous.
James Dean died in a horrific fashion at the tender age of 24. To this day some have felt that the car named ‘Little Bastard’ was cursed.
In fact Little Bastard had caused upset almost from the moment Dean bought it. A week before the fatal crash Dean met British actor Alec Guinness in Los Angeles. Guinness had an ominous feeling on seeing the Porsche and would later write in his diary: ‘The sports car looked sinister to me . . . exhausted, hungry, feeling a little ill-tempered in spite of Dean’s kindness, I heard myself saying in a voice I could hardly recognize as my own: ‘Please never get in it. . . if you get in that car you will be found dead in it by this time next week.’”
Many of claimed that his ghost can be seen at the tragic site. It has been rumored that he had a fascination with the occult and he loved the macabre.
The legend of James Dean lives on.