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Facts About James Dean


1. Dean once said, “Being a good actor isn’t easy. Being a man is even harder. I want to be both before I’m done.”

2. While filming Rebel Without a Cause, Dean’s director, Nicholas Ray, 44, had an affair with his costar, Natalie Wood, who was 16. Also, Sal Mineo, a closet homosexual who played the role of John “Plato” Crawford, was hopelessly in love with Dean.

3. As a child, Dean would disassemble and then reassemble his bicycle over and over again.

4. Dean told more than one friend that he did not expect to live past 30. When discussing the risk involved in racing cars, he said: “What better way to die? It’s fast and clean and you go out in a blaze of glory.”

5. Dean was once suspended from high school for three days after attempting to throttle a heckler during one of his readings for an upcoming acting competition.

6. Before he was famous, Dean would sleep in his car if he couldn’t afford rent, and go on dates with gay men to get a free meal.

7. Dean died before the release of his most well-known film, Rebel Without a Cause.

8. While shooting Giant, Dean wore the same shirt for two weeks straight without washing it.

9. In high school, Dean was a champion pole vaulter.

10. The first Broadway show Dean starred in, See the Jaguar, closed after only six days.

11. At a Hollywood party, Dean once put an apple on his head and told an archer to shoot it off with his bow and arrow. The host, Joan Davis, put an end to the dare just before the archer released the string.

12. A few weeks before his death, Dean appeared in a short public announcement about road safety, where he said, “Take it easy driving. The life you save might be mine.”

13. Dean kept a copy of The Little Prince on his nightstand and frequently quoted from it.

14. Dean claimed his middle name, “Byron,” came from the Romantic Poet, Lord Byron.

15. For a time, Dean dated Liz Sheridan, an actor who later become well-known for her role as Helen Seinfeld, Jerry’s mother on Seinfeld.

16. George Stevens, director of Giant, preferred to shoot each scene from a variety of locations. He quickly grew frustrated with Dean’s unwillingness to deliver the same performance twice.

17. More men than women have claimed to have slept with Dean.

18. Growing up, Dean enjoyed imitating the voices of radio personalities, such as Jack Benny and Bob Hope.

19. As a child, Dean knocked out his front teeth in an barn accident and had them replaced with a dental bridge. As an adult, Dean liked to remove the bridge and place it in the bottom of different people’s drinking glasses as a prank.

20. Martin Sheen once said, “…there was a saying that Marlon Brando changed the way actors acted, James Dean changed the way people lived. I believe that.”

21. The last time Dean signed his name was for a speeding ticket after being caught driving over 65mph in a 55mph zone.

22. In his senior year of high school, Dean joined the debate team, where he quickly became known for making up sources during competitions. He was caught on one occasion, but simply shrugged off his infraction.

23. Director Nicholas Ray filmed an alternative ending to Rebel Without a Cause where Dean’s character, Jim Stark, is shot and killed by the police.

24. As a child, Dean’s uncle, Marcus, rigged some light bulbs along a frozen pond so Dean and friends could continue playing hockey after dark.

25. When Dean first met Elia Kazan, who would go on to direct Dean in East of Eden, Dean offered to take him on a motorcycle ride. Kazan accepted.

26. George Stevens, director of Giant, banned Dean from racing while the film was in production. Just before the ban was enforced, Dean entered a Memorial Day race in Santa Barbara, where he blew a piston on the last lap while driving his Porsche Speedster.

27. Dean’s love of motor racing was sparked by his Wesleyan Methodist minister, the Reverend James DeWeerd, who took him to the Indy 500 as a boy.

28. Dean was capable of instantly falling asleep, taking many naps throughout the day.

29. Dean was the first to receive a posthumous Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

30. As a boy, Dean won several prizes and medals for acting, including a trophy for recitation.


31. Dean had a passion for bullfighting.

32. Unlike previous directors, Nicholas Ray, director of Rebel Without a Cause, encouraged Dean’s wild behavior while shooting the film because he believed it suited Dean’s character, Jim Stark.

33. While Dean was preparing to film Rebel Without a Cause, one critic wrote, “Jimmy dresses like an unmade bed.”

34. Dean assumed he would eventually become bored with acting, and planned on becoming a director.

35. Dean once said, “The only way to make a scene realistic is to do it the way you know it would really happen.”

36. During his early days at college, Dean would carry around a dictionary because he wanted to engage in high-level conversations, but felt he lacked the vocabulary.

37. For a time, Dean hosted a few shows on his college radio station.

38. At UCLA, Dean joined the Epsilon Pi chapter of Sigma Nu, but was a reclusive member of the fraternity. He was kicked out soon after.

39. Dean’s role model was Marlon Brando.

40. In high school, Dean was a star basketball player.

41. As a child, Dean suffered from myopia, rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, nosebleeds, and listlessness. He was also diagnosed with anemia.

42. Dean delivered the benediction at his high school commencement.

43. Dean spent a great deal of his childhood on his uncle’s farm, where he swept the barn, fed the chickens, collected eggs, milked the cows, and planted seeds.

44. Al Pacino once said, “Actually, the person I related to was James Dean. I grew up with the Dean thing. Rebel Without a Cause had a very powerful effect on me.”

45. Dean was a founding member of his college’s jazz club.

46.) One of Dean’s favorite instruments to play was the bongo drums.

47. Marlon Brando was originally considered for the lead in Rebel Without a Cause, and even went through testing.

48. Dean once said, “If a man can bridge the gap between life and death, if he can live on after he’s dead, then maybe he was a great man.”

49. Dean had a difficult time reading.

50. Before shooting his first scene with Elizabeth Taylor in Giant, Dean was so nervous that he decided to unzip his pants and urinate in front of the whole cast and crew. When later asked to explain his eccentric behavior, Dean said that if he could do that, he could do anything with Taylor in front of the camera.
Facts About James Dean Facts About James Dean Reviewed by David Stevens on 9:16 AM Rating: 5

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