James Dean is a name many people still hold close to their hearts. Even though the actor died at the beginning of his career, his gorgeous looks and brooding charm etched him into millions of hearts…
Even today, it seems that people are unable to forget him and his existence has been stamped into pop culture forever.
James Dean had a short but thrilling career. He only made three movies and during his short-lived career in Hollywood, he was a part of many rumors because of his many love affairs.
He dropped out of UCLA and began his acting career at 22 years old. And five years later he was the most popular leading man in the industry. He started getting offers for roles that were originally meant for the likes of Paul Newman and Marlon Brando.
His first role was in , “East of Eden” which propelled him to instant stardom. His captivating on-screen presence made audiences all over the country and beyond swoon. His brooding charm and all-American good looks etched him into the hearts of millions.
But his life had always had tragedy attached to it. When he was just a 9-year-old boy, he lost his mother Mildred Marie Wilson to cancer. His father suddenly a single dad, could not deal with raising a child on his own and sent James to some relatives to a farm in Indiana.
The lonely and vulnerable little boy fell prey to an insidious minister who molested him. After his passing, his good friend and rumored lover Elizabeth Taylor revealed to the world the horrendous time in James’ life.
She said “When Jimmy was 11 and his mother passed away, he began to be molested by his minister. I think that haunted him the rest of his life. (…) that was one of the things he confessed to me.”
The biography for James Dean titled “James Dean: Tomorrow Never Comes” written by Darwin Porter which was published in 2016 outlined the Hollywood heartthrob’s short life and his constant search for love and affection which led him to have several affairs in Hollywood with several women and men.
James Dean also had an incredibly famous love affair with Marylin Monroe. Monroe later spoke of James Dean and said “romantic and loving.” She also revealed that the two of them had also talked about marriage but decided against it.
She famously said, “It wouldn’t work. We’d end up destroying each other.”
His second film was “Rebel Without a Cause” co-starring Natalie Wood. The two of them even had a love affair which ended quite soon. Natalie Wood spoke about the reason it ended, she said, “Sometimes Jimmy liked to hurt his partner and be hurt. I don’t go in for that.”
Perhaps one of the greatest loves of Dean’s life was Italian actress Pier Angeli. He met her in January 1954 at the studio while filming “East of Eden”.
Angeli’s mother heavily disapproved of their relationship. And Dean said he was unable to marry Angeli unless he could do her justice. Saying once, “I wouldn’t marry her unless I could take care of her properly. And I don’t think I’m emotionally stable enough to do so right now.”
James Dean was reportedly shattered when Angeli announced her engagement to Vic Damone in October 1954 and married him a month later. It is said that Dean sat on his motorcycle across the church watching the ceremony take place.
Hollywood biographer Joe Hyams claimed in his 1992 biography “James Dean: Little Boy Lost,” that Dean had confessed something to him. He wrote, that Dean had tearfully confessed to him that Angeli had married Damone because she was pregnant and that Dean believed the child had been his.
After his relationship with Angeli ended, Dean threw himself into his love for racing which at times got out of hand. One of his many lovers Eartha Kitt revealed that she had sat in Dean’s infamous Spyder and it had been ‘a nightmare’ that she thought she would not survive referring to his reckless driving.
In September 1955, Dean finished filming his third film and final film, “Giant,” co-starring Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor. He reportedly had an affair with Elizabeth Taylor during the time, reportedly telling her husband Michael Wilding, “I’ve fallen in love with your wife. She is going to divorce you and marry me.”
Shortly after, James Dean met his tragic end. He had been riding down a country road at night, and crashed into a car while he had been turning onto a thoroughfare.
Elizabeth Taylor had a breakdown when she heard the news of his death and only spoke of her relationship with James Dean years later, and that too on the sole condition that it only be published after she had died.
James Dean to date remains an icon, especially for the young. His entire life he spent trying to find love and meaning. He lived fast and died young but his legacy has been immortalized for time immemorial.
James Dean would have turned 92 years old had he been alive today. But he will forever live in our memories. Share this piece with other James Dean fans.