James Dean, the eternal rebel ...

Published on 04.10.2012

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James Byron Dean was born in Marion, Indiana February 8, 1931. His parents, Winton, 23, and Mildred, 20, were married very young and had trouble realizing that they now constitute a family. When Jimmy is still small, they move to live in Fairmount, the hometown of Winton. Mildred stays home to care for her son while her husband is a dentist.

Winton is a little frustrated man who can not express his emotions or his enthusiasm. Jimmy spends his time looking for his attention, his affection. His father loves him but does not show it. Also, as his father is distant and cold, Jimmy approaches Mildred. It is a very warm woman. She taught him to draw and paint and both enjoy entertaining friends and family. According to Marcus Winslow's cousin James is Mildred Jimmy had inherited his love for the theater. She probably greatly influenced in his choice to become an actor.


In the summer of 1935, Jimmy's father gets an unexpected promotion. While the country is plunged into depression, he was offered a job in Santa Monica, California. Jimmy is registered in Brentwood and shy boy follows violin lessons and dance kindergarten. Constantly encouraged by his mother, he feats. Mildred it also instills the idea of ​​magically succeed and more importantly, to be different.


Then in the fall of 1939, the world of boy collapses when she learns her mother has breast cancer. According to doctors, it is doomed. Jimmy sees his mother wither, his best friend in the world abandoned and he does not understand why.

On 14 July 1940, Mildred Dean off. Worst of all, Jimmy's father sends his own to attend the funeral of his mother in Indiana and when Winton insists that Jimmy is in Fairmount with his aunt and uncle Winslow, the boy burst into tears but Winton has spent all his savings for the treatment of his wife.

He is aware that return Jimmy Indiana is the best solution. It has to be said at the time that it was temporary, however, this break meant for Jimmy he lost in quick succession his mother and father. It will keep one side "lost little boy."

At first, Jimmy had trouble adjusting to life in a small country town but gradually, the introverted child discovers that he is good at sports and begins to make new friends. He excelled at basketball despite its small size 1m72 and in Indiana, basketball is a religion. To be popular, you have to be good at sports. It was absolutely necessary to integrate and basketball used to it.

But even if he tries to fit in, Jimmy knows he's different. Dr. James De Weerd, a very cultured pastor, and includes both spend a lot of time listening to classical music and read Shakespeare. De Weerd becomes a father figure to the children and even take a Formula 1 championship. Gradually, Jimmy discovers the world beyond Fairmount.

His artistic sensibility is evident for the pastor who encouraged him to acting. Jimmy goes to church with her ​​aunt who gives her something to learn by heart, christmas programs for example. He likes to show off in front of people but he soon tired of the performances of the church and it focuses its energy on parts installed by the school; Frankenstein for example where it is credible and does well.

Do not hesitate to show his difference, Jimmy interpreting a fool in a drama where he screams and rips his clothes contest. Powerful game and edge impresses the judges awarded him first prize. In May 1949, he left school, convinced he was born to be an actor.

After the war, Jimmy's father moved to Los Angeles where he remarried. Impatient to leave Fairmount, Jimmy decides to go to university with him and went to live with Winton promising to take business studies.

But when it changes channel to register section drama his father into a rage. Jimmy decides to pack. Despite his love for his father, he does not want to give up comedy. He moved to avoid conflict.

In the autumn of the second year of college, the young man of 19 years gets the role of Malcolm in Macbeth. But his lack of technique, special diction and original style leave his comrades ice.

One would have thought that his poor performance had prevented him from having money but in fact, Isabelle Drasmer decided to take care of him...


Shortly after the play, Jimmy got his first professional contract: he dances around a piano in an advertisement for Pepsi Cola. He barely twenty when he left the university because he got a lead role, that of the apostle John in a Movie: Hill number one in 1951. But no other proposal follows the actor and closes on itself. He became irritable if you try to get him to talk and is very aggressive.


In case of hope, Jimmy uses all contacts that could help him in his career. It is opportunistic and thus it becomes valet CBS, thinking to meet someone important.

Among the connections he made ​​at the time is a director of CBS radio Rogers Brackett who is attracted by the physical seducer Jimmy. For its part, the young man from Indiana love enjoy high relationship placed his new friend.

With Brackett, Jimmy dine in the best restaurants, attending private screenings and meet the elite of the film industry. He is ambitious and will do anything to get his way ...

With his new friends, Jimmy landed a small role in Trouble with father 1952 television series The Stu Irwin Show. He also made a few appearances in cinema films but they were B series which he did not like because he wanted to be a serious actor.

Credit Photos @ LIFE Magazine & Archives.

Denis Eveillard

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