Birth Name(s) : James Byron Dean
Date of Birth: February 8, 1931
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.
He 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 the 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.
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.
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 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.
"Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today."