James Dean Timeline

Quotes written or spoken by James Dean compiled by David Loehr

February 8th, 1931:

James Byron Dean is born to Winton and Mildred Dean at home (Seven Gables Apartments, 320 East 4th StreetMarion, Indiana). He is given the first name of the attending physician, James Emmick, and the middle name, it is said, for poet Lord Byron.

June 7th 1935:

Winton is transferred to Sawtelle Veterans’ Hospital in Santa Monica, California. The Deans head to the West coast.

April 14th 1940:

Mildred dies of cancer in Los Angeles.

April 20th 1940:

Jimmy accompanies his mother’s body by train to Fairmount. He goes to live with his aunt and uncle, Ortense and Marcus Winslow and their young daughter, Joan, on the Winslow Farm just outside of Fairmount.

August 18th 1940:

Adeline Nall – a major influence in Jimmy’s decision to become an actor – arrives in Fairmount to teach Spanish, French, Speech and Dramatic Arts.

March 28th 1947:

Dean plays the part of John Mugford in the FairmountHigh School sophomore production of Mooncalf Medford. During this year he also plays the part of Herbert White in The Monkey’s Paw, and the leading role in An Apple from Coles County.

 August 30th 1948:

The FairmountHigh School baseball team, the Quakers, trounce St. Paul, 7-0 in the season’s final game.

October 8th 1948:

Dr. George Davis of PurdueUniversity gives the first of his rousing recitations of stories and poems by Hoosier Poet Laureate, James Whitcomb Riley, leaving a profound impression on 17-year-old Jimmy.

October 29th 1948:

At the Halloween carnival, Jimmy plays Frankenstein in the FairmountHigh School production of Goon with the Wind.

November 2nd 1948:

The Fairmount High basketball team win over the Jefferson Township Yeoman, 44-39, in the first game of the season.

November 16th 1948:

Quakers over Middletown, 39-30.

November 19th 1948:

Quakers over Windfall, 59-31.

December 10th 1948:

Quakers over JeffersonTownship, 40-27.

December 23rd 1948:

Dean featured in Fairmount High Thespians’ production of two one-act plays for the Christmas program.

 February 4th 1949:

Quakers over St. Paul, 41-39.

February 8th 1949:

Jimmy’s 18th Birthday; he registers for the draft.

February 13th 1949:

With Barbara Leach, Jimmy represents Fairmount on Grant County Voice of Youth on WBAT radio. Together they subsequently win debate: “The United States President Should be Elected by a Direct Voice of the People.”

February 16th 1949:

The senior class takes a trip to Indianapolis.

February 24th 1949:

Quakers over the Van Buren Aces, 41-38.

February 26th 1949:

Quakers over the Mississinewa Indians, 39-37; Jimmy scores winning points at the buzzer.

April 7th 1949:

In the senior class play, You Can’t Take it With You, Jimmy plays the role of Grandpa Vanderhof.

April 9th 1949:

Jimmy earns first place in the National Forensic League’s state contest in Peru, Inidana with a recitation of The Madman from The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens.

April 22nd 1949:

FairmountHigh School senior prom.

April 29th and 30th 1949:

Accompanied by his favorite teacher, Adeline Brookshire, Dean competes in the National Forensic League’s national contest in Longmont, Colorado. He earns sixth place.

May 7th and 8th 1949:

The senior class takes a trip to Washington, D.C.

May 16th 1949:

High school graduation day.

June 14th 1949:

James Dean Honored at Farewell Party Monday Night (Headline in The Fairmount News).

June 15th 1949:

Jimmy leaves on a bus for California.

January 18th 1950:

Dean begins his freshman year at Santa MonicaCityCollege.

October 10th 1950:

Jimmy lands a role in the UCLA theatre production of Macbeth. He plays ‘the world’s worst’ Malcom.

December 13th 1950:

First professional acting job: receives $30 for a Pepsi-Cola commercial in which a group of teenagers dance around a jukebox singing “Pepsi- Cola hits the spot…”

January 1951:

Jimmy withdraws from college. He begins attending a drama workshop organized by James Whitmore.

April 1st 1951:

Dean lands the role of John the Apostle in Father Peyton’s TV TheaterHill Number One. It airs on Easter Sunday, and girls at a local parochial school form the Immaculate Heart James Dean Appreciation Society.

April 19th 1951:

Jimmy gets a job at CBS radio.

July 22nd 1951:

Jimmy’s first bit part in a movie, Fixed Bayonets, directed by Sam Fuller. His one line, “It’s a rear guard coming back,” is later cut. This summer he also gets a bit part in the Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis comedy, Sailor Beware and in Deadline USA with Humphry Bogart. In the movie, Has Anybody Seen My Gal? with Rock Hudson, Dean gets to deliver the line: “Hey Gramps, I’ll have a choc malt, heavy on the choc, plenty of milk, four spoons of malt, two scoops of vanilla ice cream, one mixed and one floating,” to Charles Coburn.

September 1st 1951:

On advice of his drama coach, James Whitmore, Jimmy leaves for New York to look for work in the theatre.

November 1951:

Dean gets a job as a stunt tester on the TV game show, Beat the Clock.

 February 20th 1952:

Jimmy appears in the TV drama, The Web.

May 11th 1952:

Dean is seen on NBC’s U.S. Steel Hour: Prologue to Glory.

August 1952:

Jimmy performs a dramatic reading of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis at the Village Theatre, New York.

October 1952:

He lands his first leading role on Broadway in See the Jaguar. He plays a 16-year-old boy who has been locked in an icehouse all his life by a demented mother.

November 12th 1952:

He and Christine White audition for the Actor’s Studio in a scene they have written themselves titled: Ripping Off Layers to Find Roots. Dean and White are among the seven selected.

November 30th 1952:

Home to Fairmount for Thanksgiving.

December 3rd 1952:

See the Jaguar opens at New York’s Court Theatre. It closes three days later.

 January 15th 1953:

Appears on NBC’s Kate Smith Hour: Hound of Heaven.

January 29th 1953:

NBC’s Treasury of Men in Action: The Case of the Watchful Dog.

February 8th 1953:

TV drama, You Are There!: The Capture of Jesse James

March 14th 1953:

CBS’ Danger: No Room

March 16th 1953:

Jimmy lands a featured role in The Scarecrow at the Theatre DeLys.

June 16th 1953:

NBC’s Treasury Men in Action: The Case of the Sawed-Off Shotgun.

July 17th 1953:

NBC’s Campbell Sound Stage: Something for an Empty Briefcase.

August 17th 1953:

CBS’s Studio One Summer Theatre: Sentence of Death.

September 11th 1953:

The Big Story on NBC.

October 4th 1953:

Omnibus on NBC, with Alistair Cooke, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy and Carol Channing.

October 14th 1953:

NBC’s Kraft Theatre: Keep Our Honor Bright.

October 16th 1953:

NBC’s Campbell Sound Stage: Life Sentence.

November 11th 1953:

NBC’s Kraft Theatre: Long Time ‘Till Dawn written by Rod Sterling.

November 17th 1953:

NBC’s Armstrong Circle Theatre: The Bells of Cockaigne

November 23rd 1953:

NBC’s Johnson Wax Program: Robert Montgomery Presents: Harvest with Dorothy Gish.

December 1953:

Jimmy drives his Triumph 500 motorcycle to Fairmount.

February 8th 1954:

Jimmy stars on Broadway as Bachir in The Immortalist, with Louis Jordan and Geraldine Page. “I am now a colorful, thieving, blackmailing Arab boy played by James Dean.” Hands in two weeks notice.

February 12th 1954:

Rehearses Women of Trachis, Ezra Pound’s translation of Sophocles, at Cherry Lane Theatre with Eli Wallach and Julie Harris.

March 6th 1954:

The New York Times says: “Immortalist Star Signed by Kazan for Eden.”

March 8th 1954:

Jimmy takes his first flight – to Hollywood with director Elia Kazan. His clothes are stored in a brown paper bag.

April 7th 1954:

Dean signs a contract with Warner Brothers for the role of Cal Trask in East of Eden. He receives a $700 advance.

May 1954:

Jimmy buys his first sports car, a used MG TA.

May 27th 1954:

East of Eden begins shooting in Mendocino, California.

June 4th 1954:

Eden shoots in Salinas for a week, then returns to Warner Brothers for indoor scenes.

July 6th 1954:

Dean gets his California driver’s license.

August 13th 1954:

The filming of East of Eden ends.

September 5th 1954:

Jimmy appears in NBC’s Philco TV Playhouse: Run Like a Thief.

September 27th 1954:

Director Nicholas Ray moves into an office at Warner Brothers to start work on the script for Rebel Without A Cause.

October 7th 1954:

Warner Brothers exercises the right to extend Dean’s contract.

November 9th 1954:

Stars in CBS’ Danger series in an episode titled Padlocks with Mildred Dunnock.

November 24th 1954:

Former girlfriend, Pier Angeli, marries singer Vic Damone at the WestwoodChurch; Jimmy guns his motorcycle from across the street.

December 1954:

Plays a “hep-cat” killer subdued by a country doctor, Ronald Reagan, in CBS’ General Electric Theatre: The Dark, Dark Hours.

December 17th 1954:

Appears in General Electric’s I’m a Fool with Natalie Wood and Eddie Albert.

January 4th 1955:

Warner Brothers announces that James Dean will play the role of Jim Stark in Rebel Without A Cause. Jimmy appears on ABC’s U.S. Steel Hour: The Thief, co-starring Mary Astor.

January 18th 1955:

Dean begins pre-production meetings with Rebel director, Nick Ray.

February 1955:

Ray holds juvenile delinquency “classes” for actors playing gang members. Warners’ wardrobe department soils and launders more than 400 pairs of Levis for stars and extras in the movie.

February 14th 1955:

Jimmy, along with photographer Dennis Stock, returns to Fairmount and attends the Sweetheart Ball at FairmountHigh School.

March 1st 1955:

Dean buys a 1500cc Porche Super Speedster. He wins races at Pacific Palisades and Pasadena. He enters the prestigious two-day meet at Palm Springs.

March 7th 1955:

Dennis Stock’s photo essay, “Moody New Star,” appears in Life Magazine.

March 8th 1955:

Jimmy returns to Hollywood.

March 9th 1955:

Marilyn Monroe hands out programs at the celebrity preview of East of Eden at New York’s Astor Theater. Jimmy does not attend.

March 13th 1955:

The interview by Howard Thompson, “Another Dean Hits the Big League,” appears in The New York Times.

March 14th 1955:

Jimmy stars in NBC’s Lever Brothers Lux Video Theatre: Life of Emile Zola, and an interview with him follows the broadcast.

March 21st 1955:

A rave review of Jimmy’s performance in East of Eden appears in Time Magazine.

March 27th 1955:

Hedda Hopper praises Jimmy’s performance in Eden.

March 28th 1955:

Rebel Without A Cause begins shooting. In the opening sequence, Natalie Wood’s five-minute-long crying scene beats Bette Davis’ all-time crying record set in Winter Meeting (1948).

April 2nd 1955:

Warner Brothers again extends Jimmy’s contract. He is slated to play Jett Rink in the movie version of Edna Ferber’s epic novel, Giant.

April 4th 1955:

Screenwriters Fred Guiol and Evan Moffat finalize the script for Giant.

April 10th 1955:

Eden opens nationwide.

April 14th 1955:

Warner Brothers announces: “Dean to play Graziano role in Somebody Up There Likes Me.”

May 1st 1955:

Night shooting of Rebel begins at Griffith Park Planetarium. Switchboards of downtown Los Angeles papers flooded with callers (who’ve spotted the glare of arc and spot lights) reporting a raging forest fire.

May 6th 1955:

Jimmy appears on CBS’ Schlitz Playhouse: The Unlighted Road with Pat Hardy.

May 21st 1955:

Shooting begins on Giant.

May 25th 1955:

Rebel filming ends.

May 28th and 29th 1955:

Jimmy races his car in Santa Barbara, California.

June 3rd 1955:

Dean joins the Giant filming already in progress.

June 8th 1955:

Jimmy’s first day on the Reata set

July 2nd 1955:

Dean films scene of Jet pacing out his land
July 8th 1955:

Giant cast and crew leave for Marfa, Texas.

July 16th 1955:

Dean shoots scene of Bick trying to buy back Jett’s land

July 19th 1955:

Filming scene of Jett’s inheritance and Luz’s funeral

July 23rd 1955:

Dean does not show up for work

August 1st 1955:

Jimmy takes a one year lease on a house in Sherman Oaks, California.

August 12th 1955:

The Hollywood Reporter says: “Jimmy Dean studying German so that he can fight with [girlfriend] Ursula Andress in two languages.”

September 2nd – 8th 1955:

Dean films the banquet scene entrance, fight scene with Jordy and his final humiliation
September 16th 1955:

Press release: “James Dean plans to go on racing kick when Giant ends.”

September 17th 1955:

Jimmy final day of shooting Giant.  Dean makes 30-second commercial for the National Highway Safety Committee with actor Gig Young. He signs off with: “Take it easy driving. The life you might save might be mine.”

September 21st 1955:

Jimmy trades in his Porche Speedster for a Porche Spyder 550. Custom car artist, George Barris, paints “130” and “Little Bastard” on it.

September 22nd 1955:

Dean finishes the “Last Supper” scene in Giant.

September 29th 1955:

Jimmy visits his friend, Jeannette Mille, and gives her his Siamese cat, Marcus, a gift from Elizabeth Taylor. He attends a party in Malibu.

September 30th, 1955:

8:00 a.m.: Jimmy arrives at Competition Motors to check out the new Porche with his mechanic, Rolf Wutherich.

10:00 a.m.: Jimmy’s father, Winton, and uncle, Charlie Nolan Dean, pay him a visit. Together they have an early lunch at Farmer’s Market.

1:30 p.m.: Jimmy and Wutherich pick up Sanford Roth and Bill Hickman. The group departs for Salinas in two cars.

3:30 p.m.: Outside of Bakersfield, Jimmy receives a ticket for speeding.

5:45 p.m.: At an intersection of routes 466 and 41, near Cholame, Jimmy’s Porche collides with a Ford sedan driven by Donald Turnupseed. Wutherich is thrown free; Jimmy dies within seconds.

October 26th 1955:

Rebel Without A Cause opens in New York.

November 10th 1956:

Giant opens in New York.