James Byron Dean (1931 - 1955)

A photo of James Byron Dean
James Byron Dean
1931 - 1955
updated August 09, 2019
James Byron Dean was born on February 8, 1931 at Marion, Grant, Indiana, USA. He died on September 30, 1955 at Cholame, San Luis Obispo, California, USA at age 24.

James Dean used to hang out at the home of my friend Shirley Osborn Ayers.
The portrait is by Arthur K. Miller.
He was the first actor to receive an Academy Award nomination posthumously, for his role in East of Eden (1955). However, he did not win.
He was the grandson of Charles Dean and Emma Dean.
He was the nephew of Ortense Winslow (sister of his father) and Marcus Winslow.
He was the cousin of Marcus Winslow Jr..
He is the only actor in history to receive more than one Oscar nomination posthumously.
He was pictured on a 32¢ US commemorative postage stamp in the Legends of Hollywood series, originally issued on Monday, June 24, 1996.
He pledged Sigma Nu fraternity but dropped out of college before being initiated.
As promotion for Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Dean filmed an interview with actor Gig Young for the "Behind the Camera" segment of the ABC series "Warner Bros. Presents" in July 1955. Dean told Young, "I used to fly around quite a bit, you know, I took a lot of unnecessary chances on the highway.... Now when I drive on the highway, I'm extra cautious." When asked if he had advice for young drivers, Dean concluded the interview, "Take it easy driving. The life you might save might be mine." Dean died soon afterward and the interview was never aired.
Donald Turnupseed, the driver of the other car involved in Dean's accident, died of cancer in 1995. Turnupseed could not swerve out of the way of Dean's Porsche Spyder, but he successfully swerved journalists who frequently pestered him for interviews about the accident.
He is one of several famous and tragic figures from history to be featured on the sleeve artwork of the album "Clutching at Straws" by rock band Marillion (released in 1987).
East of Eden (1955) was the only one of the three movies in which he had major roles to be released while he was alive.
He is one of only five male actors to be posthumously nominated for an Academy Award as best actor in a leading role. The others were Spencer Tracy, Peter Finch, Massimo Troisi and Heath Ledger.
Contrary to popular belief, Dean's middle name was not taken from Lord Byron, but from a relative, "Byron" Dean.
During the filming of Giant (1956), he and Rock Hudson did not get along. This tension heightened their onscreen clashes. However, according to Hudson's ex-wife Phyllis Gates, he cried after hearing the news of Dean's untimely death. Gates wrote, "Rock couldn't be reached. He was overcome by guilt and shame, almost as though he himself had killed James Dean.".
At the time of his untimely death, James Dean did not leave behind a will, so most of his possessions went to his father, Winton Dean, whose relationship with him was distant at best.
In her book "Dizzy and Jimmy", Liz Sheridan claims she and Dean were engaged.
Dean's acting breakthrough came on Broadway in the drama "See the Jaguar", despite its run of only four days.
He was voted the 22nd Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
He attended and graduated from Santa Monica College, a California junior college that boasts its elite drama program. Went on to UCLA but left after appearing in one stage production, as Malcolm in "Macbeth", as he was anxious to get his acting career started.
According to "The Mutant King", David Dalton's 1974 biography of James Dean, the rumor that Dean was a masochist who liked to have cigarettes stubbed out on his naked body can be traced to a pencil sketch of his called "The Human Ashtray". The sketch featured a human body, in the guise of an ashtray, with many cigarette stubs in it. Dalton speculates that the sketch has nothing to do with Dean's sexual proclivities but much to do with the fact that he was a heavy smoker.
Marlon Brando, in his 1994 autobiography "Songs My Mother Taught Me", says that Dean, who idolized him, based his acting on him and his lifestyle on what he thought Brando's lifestyle was.

James Byron Dean Biography

With today's technology we are able to write and share our own history which lasts forever online. Our ancestors never had a chance to document their lives. This biography is dedicated to memorialize the life of James Dean, honor his ancestry & genealogy, and his immediate Dean family.

Most Commonly Known Name

James Byron Dean

First name


Middle name


Last Name(s)

Nickname(s) or aliases




James Dean was born on at Marion, Grant, Indiana, USA,


James Dean died on at Cholame, San Luis Obispo, California, USA,

Cause of death

There is no cause of death listed for James.

Burial / Funeral

Do you know the final resting place - gravesite in a cemetery or location of cremation - of James Byron Dean?


Ethnicity & Lineage

What is James's ethnicity and where did his parents, grandparents & great-grandparents come from?

Nationality & Locations Lived



Unknown. Was James a religious man?

Last Known Residence

Unknown. Did James move a lot? Where was his last known location?


Did James finish grade school, get a GED, go to high school, get a college degree or masters? What schools or universities did James attend?


He had major roles in only three movies. In the Elia Kazan production of John Steinbeck's East of Eden (1955) he played Cal Trask, the bad brother who could not force affection from his stiff-necked father. His true starring role, the one which fixed his image forever in American culture, was that of the brooding red-jacketed teenager Jim Stark in Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without a Cause (1955). George Stevens' filming of Edna Ferber's Giant (1956), in which he played the non-conforming cowhand Jett Rink who strikes it rich when he discovers oil, was just coming to a close when Dean, driving his Porsche Spyder race car, collided with another car while on the road near Cholame, California on September 30, 1955. He had received a speeding ticket just two hours before. At age 24, James Dean was killed almost immediately from the impact from a broken neck. His very brief career, violent death and highly publicized funeral transformed him into a cult object of apparently timeless fascination.

Personal Life & Organizations

Share some highlights of James's personal life & organizations in which they participated.

Military Service

Did James serve in the military or did a war or conflict interfere with his life?

Average Age

Life Expectancy

Looking for a different James Dean?
View other bios of people named James Deans
Back to Top

James Byron Dean Family Tree

James's immediate relatives including parents, siblings, partnerships and children in the Dean family tree.

James's Family

Add a parent
Add a parent
James Byron Dean
Add a partner
Add a child
Add a partner
Add a child
Add a sibling


Click to add friends & family.

James's Family Photos

Photos and snapshots taken of James Byron Dean, his Dean family, and locations and places or events from his life.


Share Memories about James

What do you remember about James Byron Dean? Share your memories of special moments and stories you have heard about him. Or just leave a comment to show the world that James is remembered.

James Dean Obituary

This obit of James Byron Dean is maintained by James's followers. Contribute to her obituary and include details such as cemetery, burial, newspaper obituary and grave or marker inscription if available.

James Dean
Born February 8, 1931 in Marion, Indiana, USA
Died September 30, 1955 in Cholame, California, USA (road accident)
Birth Name James Byron Dean
Nicknames Jimmy Dean
"One-Speed Dean"
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)
Mini Bio (1)
James Byron Dean was born February 8, 1931 in Marion, Indiana, to Mildred Marie (Wilson) and Winton A. Dean, a farmer turned dental technician. His mother died when Dean was nine, and he was subsequently raised on a farm by his aunt and uncle in Fairmount, Indiana. After grade school, he moved to New York to pursue his dream of acting. He received rave reviews for his work as the blackmailing Arab boy in the New York production of Gide's "The Immoralist", good enough to earn him a trip to Hollywood. His early film efforts were strictly small roles: a sailor in the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis overly frantic musical comedy Sailor Beware (1952); a GI in Samuel Fuller's moody study of a platoon in the Korean War, Fixed Bayonets! (1951) and a youth in the Piper Laurie-Rock Hudson comedy Has Anybody Seen My Gal (1952).
Frequently played angry youths
Squinty, sleepy blue eyes
Light brown hair greased back
Impulsive emotional acting style
Known for playing well-meaning but deeply troubled characters
The red jacket, white T-shirt and blue jeans from Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Trivia (115)
He was chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#42) (1995).
In October 1997, he was ranked #33 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list.
The famous Failure Analysis Associates, from Menlo Park, California, reconstructed and recreated all details of the accident at the same approximate time on September 30 and have concluded that James Dean was travelling 55 to 56 mph when the fateful accident occurred, thereby proving he had not been speeding, as rumor had it.
Most of his so-called affairs with various starlets were made up by the Warner Brothers public relations. He did have love affairs with Pier Angeli and Liz Sheridan.
He also worked as a "stunt tester" on the game show Beat the Clock (1950), testing the safety of the stunts that some of the studio audience members would later perform. However, he proved so agile at completing the stunts that his results could not be used to set time limits for contestants to complete them. So he was reluctantly released.
Following his untimely death, he was interred at Park Cemetery in Fairmount, Indiana, which is nearly 2,300 miles from where he perished in his fatal car crash on the intersection leading to Cholame, California.
Reportedly, Dean was very much in love with Pier Angeli and they planned to marry, but her mother blocked the union because Dean was not Catholic and she helped arrange Pier's marriage to Vic Damone. Before she committed suicide, Pier wrote that Dean was the only man she had ever really loved.
He briefly studied dance with Katherine Dunham.
He won the Bloom Award as "Best Newcomer" for early Broadway work in "The Immoralist".
He was issued a speeding ticket only two hours and fifteen minutes before his fatal accident.
He is the subject of the songs "James Dean" by Eagles and "Mr. James Dean" by Hilary Duff. He is mentioned in the lyrics of many other songs, including "Rock On" by David Essex, "Electrolite" by R.E.M., "Jack and Diane" by John Mellencamp, "Vogue" by Madonna, "We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel, "Forever" by Skid Row, "American Pie" by Don McLean, "Speechless" by Lady Gaga, "Walk on the Wild Side" by Lou Reed, "Rather Die Young" by Beyoncé, "Choke On This" by Senses Fail, "Blue Jeans" by Lana Del Rey, "Style" by Taylor Swift and "Ghost Town" by Adam Lambert.

Other Records of James Byron Dean

1931 - 1955 World Events

Refresh this page to see various historical events that occurred during James's lifetime

In 1931, in the year that James Byron Dean was born, on May 1st, the Empire State Building opened in New York City. At 1,454 feet (including the roof and antenna), it was the tallest building in the world until the World Trade Center's North Tower was built in 1970. (It is now the 34th tallest.) Opening at the beginning of the Great Depression, most of the offices in the Empire State Building remained unoccupied for years and the observation deck was an equal source of revenue and kept the building profitable.

In 1940, when he was only 9 years old, in July, Billboard published its first Music Popularity Chart. Top recordings of the year were Tommy Dorsey's "I'll Never Smile Again" (vocal Frank Sinatra) - 12 weeks at the top, Bing Crosby's "Only Forever" - 9 weeks at the top, and Artie Shaw's "Frenesi" - 12 weeks at the top.

In 1947, James was 16 years old when in June, the Marshall Plan was proposed to help European nations recover economically from World War II. It passed the conservative Republican Congress in March of 1948. After World War I, the economic devastation of Germany caused by burdensome reparations payments led to the rise of Hitler. The Allies didn't want this to happen again and the Marshall Plan was devised to make sure that those conditions didn't arise again.

In 1955, in the year of James Byron Dean's passing, on September 30th, movie star James Dean, 24, died in a car accident. He was headed in his new Porsche 550 to a race in Salinas California when, traveling at 85 mph, he collided with a 1950 Ford Tudor, also speeding, driven by a 23 year old college student. Dean died, his passenger and the other driver survived.

Other Biographies

Other James Deans

James Robert Dean
Died: May 31, 1916
James Patrick Dean
around 1923 - Mar 19, 1944
James Meech Dean
around 1898 - Jul 15, 1917
James Leonard Dean
Died: Aug 11, 1942
James Law Dean
around 1918 - Nov 1, 1944
James Gordon Dean
around 1919 - Apr 21, 1943
James Frederick Dean
around 1893 - Jul 10, 1941
James Fraser Dean
around 1915 - Sep 20, 1944
James Edwin Dean
around 1911 - Mar 19, 1944
James Douglas Ernest Dean
around 1924 - Dec 16, 1945
James Arthur Dean
Died: Nov 3, 1916
James Arthur Dean
around 1888 - Apr 5, 1918
James Allan Dean
around 1891 - Jul 9, 1917
James Albert Dean
around 1914 - Dec 30, 1944
James Dean
around 1898 - Nov 14, 1917
James Dean
around 1895 - Sep 25, 1941
James Dean
around 1885 - Feb 19, 1940
James Dean
around 1892 - Mar 20, 1944
James Dean
Died: Aug 22, 1942

Other Bios

Aleksander Aspel
Jun 10, 1908 - Mar 21, 1975
Andres Rennit
Nov 5, 1860 - Sep 3, 1936
God .
Born: around Jan 1, -10000
Adele Gertrude Neustadt Schiff
Jul 8, 1880 - Jul 7, 1932
Georg Kingisepp, M.d.
May 30, 1898 - Aug 19, 1974
Elise Käer Käer-Kingisepp, M.d.
Oct 3, 1901 - Feb 10, 1989
Henry Robert Augustus Adeane
1882 - Nov 2, 1914
Fabian Von Wrangell
Sep 10, 1614 - Oct 27, 1689
Gunnar Aarma
Aug 6, 1916 - Feb 12, 2001
Jaan Reppo Räppo
Apr 11, 1880 - Apr 14, 1958
John Mullins
1551 - 1577
Henry Bridger
around 1500 - 1521
Arthur Võõbus
Apr 15, 1909 - Sep 25, 1988
Peet Moorats
Dec 20, 1880 - Mar 10, 1908
Georg Robert Lurich
Apr 10, 1876 - Jan 20, 1920
Thea Paluoja
Born: Aug 5, 1962
Success Stories from Biographies like James Byron Dean
I have to tell you a VERY special story about how AncientFaces helped to reunite our family. For 13 years, I have been searching for my grandmother's missing sister. She just disappeared from the family in the 1930s without a trace. No one ever knew where or when she died or where she was buried. My years of searching have just run into dead ends, so I had given up. Today, out-of-the-blue, a young lady called me and said that she had seen a photograph on AncientFaces and one of the women in the photo was her grandmother! Little did I know that she had left a small child behind when she died so young of TB. You can imagine our shock and excitement at finding each other and a whole new family that we never knew existed. We only live one state away from each other and very soon plan to have all family members meet to share our sides of "the story" and of course, many, many more picturesl AncientFaces...... without you, this family may never have been complete and Aunt Grace would have been lost to us forever. I hope you realize what a valuable service you provide and how grateful we are to have found you. Thank you!!!! -Lynda B.
I never knew my biological family. My family is my mother and father who raised me. But, as I got older I got curious about my heritage. It took me years of investigation to finally discover my parents’ names. Well, I get goosebumps just writing this, I have found my biological family because of AncientFaces. Yes!! I did a search for my [parents' names] and was shocked to find a photo of them on AncientFaces! I cannot tell you the feeling that came over me when I saw this photo - to see the faces of my biological parents…JUST LIKE THAT. I left a comment on the photo and you won’t believe this - the owner of the photo is MY SISTER!!! Yes, I have a LITTLE sister! It turns out my parents were too young when they had me and had to give me up. My little sister knew I existed and wanted to find me but had no way of doing it. Thanks to you I am meeting my little sister for the first time next month. GOD BLESS YOU ANCIENTFACES. -Anonymous
We have found our missing relative entirely thanks to AncientFaces. We have received a much clearer photo of Captain Grant from his Son. The picture we on AncientFaces is an old yellowed newspaper photo. I am attaching the new photo and ask that you take the old one out and put the new clear picture in its place. With our Canadian Remembrance Day here in 2 days - the timing could not be better. Thank You, AncientFaces. My long lost Aunt is now 86 years old and her Son and I are talking by phone and e-mails. Captain Grant was his Father and died in France in 1944 and is buried there. By posting pictures of the visit to his gravesite - we connected through one of his brothers. Amazing that our prayers have been answered. Thank you -Beth B.
I came home for lunch yesterday and decided to look at my email before going back to work. The weekly newsletter that I subscribe to from the Logan Family History Center had this message in it about AncientFaces. I clicked on the link and the first search I did was for Woodruff, and Mamie was the first picture that came up. I could hardly stand it. I was late getting back to work. I had to add comments and write to you. Thank you for noticing her in the store and for the website. I can't help but wonder how many other family pictures may have ended up in that store and why. I also can't help but feel that it was meant to be and that there is a purpose that this picture is coming home as you say. What are the chances of this all just happening? It's amazing that you even picked it up at the store and then went to all the extra effort to post it. It makes me feel as though you have been my friend forever. It certainly has given me a connection to you, and I have a love for what you do. I just can't tell you how excited I am. I can't even hold it in. -Cathy K., Utah
I have previously submitted several pictures of my grandfather August Zemidat. I have tried for many years to find anyone with that name, and I have searched many genealogy web sites to no avail. Recently I was contacted by someone who saw my pictures on AncientFaces who may well be a cousin. She also provided me with information that seems to indicate her grandparents were my grandfather’s siblings. Considering the many years I have been searching for the name Zemidat, I find this is absolutely amazing that I have finally found a family member. Thank you AncientFaces -Ron D.
I love AncientFaces, a while back I saw that you had labeled Garcia surname pictures. At the time I didn’t have all my family facts for my research. Anyway, I wandered into your site just to check it out AND NOW 1 YEAR LATER I received a picture from an 87 year old aunt and guess what you had this very same picture on your site!! (They were my great aunts and my great-grandmother!). Thank you… -Angela M.
I have loved AncientFaces since I first found it, it's the first thing I check when I turn on the computer. There was a time when even in the most modest households there were three cherished possessions, a family Bible. a family album and a fancy lamp. It was usual for the family to gather in the parlour, generally on Sunday and talk, tell stories of family and friends with the photos in the albums as illustration. Sadly in our modern electronic age we have fallen away from the oral tradition and interest in history has waned. I was quite shocked on the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic to see so many comments from younger people who were surprised to learn that the Titanic wasn't just a movie. This is why AncientFaces is so important, to me it's the electronic age version of the oral tradition on a global scale and the sheer volume of people who follow, comment and contribute seems to prove the point. We are all grateful to you all for providing us with this wonderful site. - Arba M.