James Dean, the famous American actor, was not very tall – less than medium height – and had thick fair hair, and intense blue eyes. He was short-sighted – he couldn’t really see anything without his glasses. James came to Hollywood when he was eighteen, hoping to get into  films.

At first he was not at all successful and for a time he had to live on very little money. There were days when he only ate cereals, which he sometimes mixed with marmalade. Then he went to New York, the centre of live theatre in the United States.


He got a part in a play and was seen by the great director, Elia Kazan. Kazan was planning the film  East of Eden and realised Dean would be perfect for one of the main parts. Dean was difficult to work with. He was also an eccentric person. He always wore the same overcoat and jeans, rarely shaved and had only one or two friends. He sometimes didn’t talk to anybody for days.

When he went to parties, he often brought his bongo drums with him. Then he sat in a corner, took off his glasses because he didn’t want to see anybody, and played the drums all night without saying a word. He went back to Hollywood to make East of Eden and then made two more films, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant. His co-star in the  last film, Rock Hudson, later said “I didn’t like Dean particularly.

I didn’t, like working with him, either. He was hard to be with. He was always angry and he never smiled.”

Although he had poor eyesight, he loved riding on fast motorbikes and driving even faster sports cars. A few days after he finished Giant, on 25 September 1955, Dean went for a drive in his new Porsche.

The sun was going down so the light was poor. And unfortunately, Dean was not wearing his glasses. Suddenly, he saw a car in front of him. It was slowing down to turn into a side road. Dean tried to slow down, too, but it was too late. He hit the car at high speed and was killed immediately. Two German girls killed themselves when they heard the news because they believed it was impossible to live without him. A few years later, a New York shopgirl wrote a book called Jimmy Dean Returns, in which she wrote that she was communicating with Dean from the other world. Half a million copies of the book were sold. It was only the beginning of a strange legend that goes on, even today.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *