James Dean
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James Dean
Birth Name: James Byron Dean
Nick Name: Jimmy Dean
Date of birth: February 8, 1931
Place of Birth: Marion, IN USA
Date of Death: September 30, 1955
Place of Death: Cholame, CA USA
Height: 5' 8" (1.73 m)

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Who owns the lost James Dean Porsche?

(foxnews.com) The death of Batmobile creator George Barris has thrown a wrench into the search for another famous car connected to him.

A few months after actor James Dean died in a highway accident in 1955, Barris, known as the “King of the Kustomizers,” acquired the remains of the star’s wrecked Porsche 550 Spyder, which Dean had nicknamed “Little Bastard.”

Barris sent the Porsche on promotional tours around the country until 1960, when, according to him, it disappeared as it was being delivered from an event in Miami back to his shop in Los Angeles, never to be seen again.

Or perhaps it was.

Earlier this year, Shawn Reilly, a 47-year-old Washington State resident, was undergoing psychological counseling when the subject of a scar on his finger came up. Reilly couldn’t remember how he got it, which had always bugged him, but the therapy revealed a memory.

According to his lawyer, Reilly recalled that his father, a carpenter, had brought him along on a job in 1974, when he was 6 years old. At a building that still exists, they met up with several men who wanted a wrecked sports car, which could have been the Porsche, hidden behind a wall. Reilly now remembers that he cut his finger on the car. He also thinks one of the men who were there may have been George Barris.

His account of seeing the Porsche has passed a lie detector test that was carried out on behalf of the Volo Auto Museum in Illinois, according to the museum’s director, which issued a $1 million bounty on the car in 2005. That money wouldn’t go to the car’s finder, but to purchase it from its owner. And that’s where things get tricky.

Barris always maintained that the car was legally his, a point that his spokesman, Ed Lozzi, reiterated to Fox News shortly before his death. Barris insisted that he knew nothing about the car’s whereabouts after it disappeared, but Lozzi would not tell Fox News if the wreck was insured at the time or if any payment was made to Barris, which could have transferred ownership to the insurer if it was found.

According to Volo Museum Director Brian Grams, who had a professional relationship with Barris, no one ever presented documented proof to him that the customizer was the car’s owner. He says ownership needs to be sorted out before he can pay a finder’s fee or make good on the $1 million offer to buy the car.

So, if the Porsche really is hidden away in an undisclosed building somewhere in Washington, who owns it?

Reilly’s lawyer says the location won’t be revealed until that question is answered, and that it could end up being anyone from Barris’ estate to the building owner or possibly even his client. But one Dean historian believes none of them is the rightful owner.

Attorney Lee Raskin, author of "James Dean: On the Road to Salinas" and an outspoken critic of Barris’ stewardship of “Little Bastard,” says the car was originally registered in California by its engine number, rather than the chassis number. After the Porsche was written off by Dean’s insurance company, it was sold for $1,092 to Dr. William F. Eschrich, who removed the engine and other drivetrain components before Barris took possession of the rest of the car.

Since no official record of that transfer has been discovered – and since Eschrich’s family still has the original pink slip for the car, along with the engine – Raskin believes the entire vehicle belongs to the Eschriches. But the family has made no claim to the missing parts of the vehicle or commented on the recent developments.

As for the parties directly involved in the ongoing discussion, Barris’ death has slowed the process, which means an attempt to find out if James Dean’s Porsche is hidden behind a wall is likely months away.

Was James Dean bisexual?

James Dean was gay, according to Elizabeth Taylor — but that didn’t stop him from having an affair with Geraldine Page, a new biography reveals.

Taylor included Dean with Rock Hudson and Montgomery Clift when she named her gay friends, but the “Rebel Without a Cause” icon was a switch-hitter, according to “Being James Dean” (RosettaBooks).

Author Paul Alexander documents an affair Dean had with Oscar-winning actress Page while they were appearing on Broadway in “The Immoralist.” The couple often ended up together in a brass bed, which inspired Dean to make a series of drawings for Page that she cherished.

The showmance ended only when Dean left to shoot “East of Eden” for Elia Kazan.

“According to my mother, the affair went on for 3?¹/2 months,” Angelica Page, Geraldine’s daughter, is quoted as saying. “I believe they were artistic soul mates.”

What if James Dean had lived?

Sixty years ago Sept. 30, near Salinas, Calif., Hollywood star James Dean died — spectacularly.

Car accident. A guy pulled out in front of him in a large Ford. Dean, 24, drove a small Porsche. The collision was major.

And so a moody young Hoosier who had made three movies was dead, and a cultural icon of teen angst and pained facial expressions was born.

But what if, at the last second, Dean had swerved and somehow managed to avoid colliding with the other vehicle? What if Dean had survived the accident?

What if James Dean hadn't died?

I put this question to eight people with varied backgrounds and interests. Here's what they said:

He might have been the one to say: ‘We're gonna run the picket fence at 'em’

"James Dean's legend grew faster after he died. The original trailers for Giant don't even mention Dean until almost the end. He was a rising star, but his reputation exploded in the late '50s and '60s when it became cool to be an outsider. Had he lived he would probably have ended up with a career similar to his close friends Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper or Martin Landau. It would not be impossible to imagine James Dean in Hoosiers, for example, instead of Dennis Hopper."

— Eric Grayson, film historian and preservationist

His inner gearhead might have trumped his inner thespian

"Given the trajectory of Dean's short career in Hollywood I really think he was destined to burn bright for a short time then retreat into those things that were his passions outside of acting. I could have seen him become tightly connected with car racing. I would think he and Paul Newman would have shared the progressions their careers took. There would have always been a love and return to Hollywood for film projects, but his passion would have been on the track."

— Craig Mince, executive director, Indy Film Fest

He might have come out of the closet

"James Dean would be as astute a businessman as an actor. His 'Rebel' clothing brand would rival Versace and Gucci and he would start the 'grunge' movement in '70s to boost sales. His signature leather jacket and white T-shirt remain a timeless wardrobe staple. He would be the gentlemen driver in a Porsche and win both the 24 Hours of Daytona and Le Mans. His famous car collection would be opened for charities for 'bored, lost, emotionally neglected teenagers.' He never made another film and lived a secluded life. Taking the lead from his friend, Jim Nabors, he announced on his 80th birthday he was gay and happily shared his life with his best friend."

— Pauline Moffat, executive director, IndyFringe Festival

James Dean in a scene from the motion picture

His movies might have been merely a springboard. Here, a faux obit (a faux-bit?)

"With the passing of James Dean last week at 84 the world lost one of its great actors, activists and passionate automobile racing drivers. A lifetime consisting of five Indy 500 championships, 15 Oscar nominations (only one win for The Godfather in 1972) and his now legendary support of the Gay Rights Bill of 1966 came to an end at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center last Wednesday. It is hard to imagine a world without this great figure of American life and even harder to imagine it all started with a few now nearly forgotten films like Rebel Without a Cause and Giant. Rest in peace, Mr. Dean, and thanks for all you left behind."

— Vess Ruhtenberg, musician

He might have faded into obscurity

"What comes to mind is what Maxine Kumin said at a 25th anniversary gathering of poets on the death of Sylvia Plath at the Young Men's Hebrew Association in New York: 'I hope we all realize that if Sylvia had died of pneumonia, we wouldn't be here.' "

— Dan Wakefield, author

He might have been Cary Grant

"I think he would still be a movie actor because that was his main goal always. He memorized poems and this sort of thing even as a young boy in school. He was always acting. I think he'd have been in the category of Cary Grant. I think he'd have kept his ground and been a noted movie star even now."

— Wilma Jean Brown, fellow member Fairmount High Class of '49

He might have gone on the other side of the camera, like Ron Howard and Clint Eastwood did

"I think he'd have stayed in show business. Most of the people who knew him well and lived in California said they feel like he'd have gone into directing. There's a lot of pictures of him behind the camera, seeing through the camera, and so forth. Maybe eventually he'd have had his own movie company.

— Marcus Winslow, Dean's first cousin

He might have beaten Ronald Reagan

"Had James Dean walked away from the wreck of his prized Porsche 550 Spyder, he most certainly would have continued a successful movie career. His screen presence, star quality and undeniable talent would have earned Dean several Oscar nominations. However, a rebellious attitude and disdain for Hollywood politics would have prevented him from winning Best Actor or even showing up to accept a lifetime achievement award from the Academy. Ironically, those same qualities would lead Dean to a successful career in national politics where he would narrowly defeat fellow actor Ronald Reagan for the presidency.

— Ben Clement, executive director, Office of Film & Television, Gary

'Life' of James Dean in new trailer

Dane Dehaan and Robert Pattinson unravel the 'Life' of James Dean in new trailer: Video.

'VOCES: Children of Giant' and how a movie transformed Marfa, Texas

One of the major movies of 1956 truly was "Giant," in many ways -- particularly for the residents of Marfa, Texas.

Director George Stevens earned his second Oscar in bringing a cast that included Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and -- in what would be his final film -- James Dean to the town to make the sweeping version of Edna Ferber's novel, which dealt in part with Mexican-American relations. Stevens' producer-director son, George Jr., and others discuss the impact of the filming on all concerned in filmmaker Hector Galan's documentary "Children of Giant," the first Season 4 offering of PBS' Latino arts and culture series "Voces" Friday (April 17).

"It gave a lot of [local] people employment," Stevens Jr. tells Zap2it. He was an assistant to his father on the Warner Bros. picture, "and of course, it filled the hotels, and many of the cast and crew stayed in peoples' houses. My father had this notion that he really wanted the town to be part of the picture, and it was an open set. The people from town, if they wanted to come out and watch shooting, they were welcome. So from my perspective, it was a wonderful place to make that film, and I'm sure it informed the film with some of the spirit of the people who lived there."

Shown often on Turner Classic Movies, "Giant" weaves the saga of wealthy Texas rancher Bick Benedict (Hudson), his wife Leslie (Taylor) and maverick ranch hand -- and later oil tycoon -- Jett Rink (Dean). Mexican actress Elsa Cardenas made her Hollywood debut as Juana, who married into the Benedict family; also featured in "Children of Giant," she was present when word came of Dean's car-accident death on Sept. 30, 1955.

"The phone rang, and Mr. Stevens answered the phone," she says. "The lights were off, and he told us what had happened. It was around 7:00 [p.m.], and it was horrible news for us. Elizabeth was very sentimental and she started crying. All of us, we were very, very upset. The next day, we were all like we didn't want to talk. We didn't want to say anything."

Also in both "Giant" and "Children of Giant" is veteran actor Earl Holliman ("Police Woman"), whose character Bob Dace also joined the Benedict clan via marriage. He expresses pride for having been in the film, and also for being part of an atmosphere that was "always mixed" in ethnic terms.

"It was always Mexican, always American," he notes. "Everybody was laughing. It was like the circus had come to town. It was a festival for all the time I was there. It was glorious, what was happening in Marfa."

New documentary eyes story of Latino extras in 1956 'Giant'

A young George Washington Valenzuela was walking to a barbershop in small, dusty Marfa, Texas, when a woman approached him and asked if he would like to be in a movie. He said yes.

Weeks later, Valenzuela found himself singing the national anthem in front of Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor in the 1956 blockbuster movie "Giant."

A new documentary seeks to tell Valenzuela's story and that of other Mexican-American child actors who appeared in the film but later could only view it in segregated theaters.

"Children of Giant" goes to the West Texas town where director George Stevens and his Hollywood crew set up shop to shoot one of the first, major films to openly tackle racism.

For the 60 years since the movie's release, most of the Mexican-American cast has been largely forgotten, though the movie introduced the nation to the discrimination Latinos faced, documentary director Hector Galan said.

"Many people don't realize how important the film 'Giant' was to Mexican-Americans at the time," Galan said. "For the first time on a national level the stories of Mexican-Americans were being told."

Based on the novel by Edna Ferber with the same name, "Giant" follows wealthy Texas cattle rancher Jordan Benedict, Jr., played by Hudson, who marries Maryland socialite Leslie Lynnton, portrayed by Taylor. Their sprawling ranch is located on land once owned by impoverished Mexican-Americans, who still work the land but are denied basic medical care and decent jobs.

Benedict's son, played by Dennis Hopper, marries a Mexican-American nurse, played by Mexican actress Elsa Cardenas, creating racial tension. James Dean also starred in the movie.

At the time of its release, the movie was popular among Mexican-Americans, especially since Ferber had interviewed civil rights leaders Hector P. Garcia and lawyer John J. Herrera for her novel and the movie adopted real-life episodes from the new civil rights movement in Texas.

Yet, many of the main actors were unaware of the discrimination the Mexican-American extras faced away from the movie set.

In the documentary, Galan interviews Cardenas who recalls how staff at a hotel looked at her suspiciously and how she didn't know the Mexican-Americans children on the set had to attend segregated schools. He also interviews child actor Tony Cano who remembers incidents of racism.

The documentary also covers Stevens' experience in World War II as part of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Stevens would become one of the first directors to capture images of the Holocaust and his footage would be used in the Nuremberg Trials.

"That experience changed him forever," Galan said. "I don't think he would have made "Giant" had it not been for that experience."

In addition, the documentary shows how Dean playfully interacted with Mexican-American teens off screen and shocked the town when he was killed in a car wreck in California weeks later.

"Children of Giant" kicks off a new season of the PBS Voces series on April 17.

SXSW 2015: Was James Dean Gay or Bisexual? Matinee Idol Pal Tab Hunter Weighs In on the Rumors

It's a question that will never be answered.

Even so, for decades, there have been rumors that James Dean was bisexual and maybe quite possibly gay.

Tab Hunter, a former 1950s matinee idol and friend of the Rebel Without a Cause star who publicly came out of the closet in 2006, weighed in on the gossip when I sat down with him at South by Southwest to talk about his new Jeffrey Schwarz-directed documentary, Tab Hunter Confidential.

Hunter, now 83, said he knew "Jimmy pretty well" because his friend Dick Clayton was his agent.

"People always said that," Hunter said about Dean swinging both ways. "All I know is I saw him with Ursula Andrews a lot and with Pier Angeli." (Dean was dating Andrews at the time of his death. He and Angeli apparently wanted to marry but never did because her mother was against it.)

"People want to hang labels on people—Oh, he's like this or he's like that—[but] to me I don't buy into that...As far as I know [about] Jimmy, no," Hunter said.

While Hunter was outed by infamous tabloid Confidential in 1955, he continued to have a massive career. "People believe what they want to believe," Hunter said, explaining that studios had the power to make such stories go away. He went on to become Warner Bros.' top grossing star from 1955 through 1958.

Hunter never discussed his sexuality publicly or privately (he was even in a long-term relationship with Psycho star Anthony Perkins) and had plenty of studio-arranged beards to sway public opinion.

He was often seen—and more importantly, photographed—with Natalie Wood, even though she was secretly dating Dennis Hopper.

"She was like my kid sister," Hunter said of his The Burning Hills co-star. "She was much younger than me and I loved Natalie. She was like a young filly finding her legs, bucking and playing in the field. She was finding her direction."

Long retired from the business now (he and his partner of more than 30 years, Allan Glaser, live in the Santa Barbara area), Hunter enjoyed a bit of campy comeback in the 1980s when director John Waters cast him opposite Divine in Polyester. He and the late drag queen reunited four years later for Lust in the Dust.

"Divine as one of my favorite leading ladies," Hunter said, smiling. "There was Geraldine Page, Natalie Wood, Sophia Loren and Divine!"

James Dean at His First Car Race

(Photo) James Dean was a Hollywood giant at 24, but the stardom he dreamed of was at the racetrack. For years, the actor used the Hollywood Hills as a Grand Prix practice track before entering his first professional race on March 26, 1955 in Palm Springs, Calif.

Now Dean fans can bid on a set of rarely seen pictures of the actor from that day by going to PremiereProps.com. The photos are being auctioned off along with over 1,000 movie and TV memorabilia items on March 22-23.

The late photographer Gus Vignolle shot the actor after being persuaded by his daughter Janis. "She had seen East of Eden," recalls family friend Mel Felix. "When she saw James Dean, she said, 'He's going to be really really famous, Dad.' That’s what prompted him to take all these pictures."

Six months later, on Sept. 30, Dean was speeding in his new Porsche 550 Spyder to another race in Salinas, Calif., when a car pulled out on the highway, resulting in a violent collision that killed the actor.

Ironically, only weeks before his death the actor taped a segment on driver safety, telling viewers at the end, "The life you might save might be mine."

For more exclusive photos, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

Dane DeHaan to play James Dean alongside 'Twilight' star Robert Pattinson in 'Life'

Dane DeHaan will play James Dean and Robert Pattinson will play Magnum photographer Dennis Stock in Anton Corbijn's "Life," which FilmNation will be selling to international buyers at the Toronto market.

"The King's Speech" producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman of See-Saw Films are producing with Christina Piovesan of First Generation Films.

Written by Luke Davies, "Life" follows the friendship that Stock struck up with Dean when he was commissioned to photograph the budding young actor.

Production is scheduled to start in February in Canada. CAA is handling U.S. rights.

Like Stock, Corbijn is also a celebrated photographer whose visual gifts served him well on films such as "Control," "The American" and the upcoming thriller "A Most Wanted Man."

"Twilight" sensation Pattinson next stars in David Michod's "The Rover" and David Cronenberg's "Maps To The Stars ."

DeHaan will soon be seen in "Devil's Knot" and "Kill Your Darlings," as well as "Metallica Through the Never."

Screen Daily broke the news of Pattinson and DeHaan's casting.

Roof collapses at James Dean's Indiana high school

A large portion of the Indiana high school where James Dean was first exposed to acting has caved in, dealing what local officials say could be a final blow to efforts to preserve the building.

Fairmount Police Chief Roger Reneau said the roof of the structure collapsed Thursday. It's the second collapse since July 3, when a smaller section of the building caved in.

The school about 50 miles east of Indianapolis closed in 1986 and is owned by the Madison Grant Youth Basketball League. Dean fans and local officials have tried over the years to save the three-story red brick-and-limestone building, but David Loehr, curator of the James Dean Gallery a few blocks from the school, said proposals never panned out.

"There was a lot of interest, but the money didn't come with it," he told The Associated Press in July.

Reneau told The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/1a69X6X ) the owners are considering razing the site, which has been barricaded to prevent people from trying to grab bricks as souvenirs.

"The walls are falling. We had some people doing that last night so we went ahead and barricaded it," he said.

Loehr said the stage where Dean participated in high school plays was removed years ago by the Fairmount Lions Club, which is working to raise money to restore it.

Dean graduated from Fairmount High in 1949 before leaving to pursue his acting career. He had iconic roles in "Rebel Without a Cause," ''Giant" and "East of Eden" before dying in a California car crash in 1955. He was 24.

Part of James Dean's Indiana high school collapses

A portion of the Indiana high school where James Dean was first exposed to acting collapsed early Wednesday, dimming hopes of saving the long-shuttered brick schoolhouse in the actor's hometown.

Dean grew up on his aunt and uncle's farm near Fairmount, about 50 miles northeast of Indianapolis, and performed in high school plays that fueled his interest in acting. Dean fans and local officials had tried over the years to shore up the weathered, three-story red brick and limestone schoolhouse, which closed in 1986, and installed a rubber covering on its roof to keep out the elements.

But a southeast corner of Fairmount High School gave way about 3 a.m. Wednesday, said Fairmount clerk-treasurer Jo Ann Treon, and officials are now concerned one of the 115-year-old school's exterior walls could collapse next.

"It's just too far gone from the elements," Treon said.

After graduating from Fairmount High in 1949, Dean headed to California and then New York, before landing iconic roles in the movies "Rebel Without a Cause," ''Giant" and "East of Eden." He died in 1955 at age 24 in a California car crash.

David Loehr, curator of the James Dean Gallery that's a few blocks from the school, said various proposals to restore the building and turn it into a library, museum, community center — or some combination of those and other ideas — never came together.

"There was a lot of interest, but the money didn't come with it," he said.

Loehr said the third-story section of the school that collapsed was above the portion of the building that once housed the wooden stage where Dean performed in school plays. That stage was removed years ago from the deteriorating school by the Fairmount Lions Club, and Loehr said that group is working to raise money to restore it and someday give it a new life for performances in another building.

The school was listed on Indiana Landmarks' list of the state's 10 most endangered landmarks in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

Tina Connor, the preservation group's executive vice president, said the group found a California developer who pledged to restore the 1898 Romanesque revival and neoclassical school, but he was unable to line up hoped-for funding from Hollywood celebrities.

"The building is in such terrible shape. It's probably not salvageable," she said. "It's a shame because old schools were well built. They had style that we can't generally afford today, and if they're maintained they're really super steady buildings."

Dean wasn't the only notable to graduate from the school. Garfield creator Jim Davis and retired CBS correspondent Phil Jones are also alumni.

Treon, the clerk-treasurer, said the school is owned by the Madison Grant Youth Basketball League. She said the East Central Indiana Regional Planning District has provided a $500,000 grant for demolition of the building, but so far efforts to raise an additional $100,000 for that task haven't panned out.

'Control' filmmaker Anton Corbijn to direct James Dean movie 'Life'

Anton Corbijn, who directed George Clooney in "The American,' is attached to direct "Life," which chronicles the relationship between photographer Dennis Stock and James Dean.

Luke Davies ("Candy") wrote the movie, which Iain Canning and Emile Sherman will produce for See-Saw Films ("The King's Speech").

Set in 1955 before the premiere of "East of Eden," story follows photographer Dennis Stock, who meets undiscovered star James Dean at a party and quickly comes to believe that the free-spirited actor has the potential to personify a social revolution. Beset with guilt from being an estranged parent to his son, Dennis slowly emerges from behind his bravado, spending time with Jimmy in Los Angeles, New York, and Indiana, having been commissioned Life Magazine. The photos would capture a star in the making and provide Dennis with the self-belief to be an international renowned artist.

Pre-production on "Life" will start in early 2014.

Founded in 2008 by Sherman and Canning, See-Saw Films produced Oscar winner "The King's Speech" and Steve McQueen's sex addiction drama "Shame," which starred Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan. The company is currently in post-production on John Curran's "Tracks," which stars Mia Wasikowska. See-Saw's first television series, Jane Campion's "Top of the Lake," just finished its run on the Sundance Channel.

Corbijn, who made his name in music videos, made his feature directorial debut with the Ian Curtis biopic "Control." His next film, "A Most Wanted Man," stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe and Robin Wright. He's represented by CAA and Independent Talent.

Davies is repped by UTA, EML Entertainment and attorney Craig Emanuel.

Large Hollywood photo collection to be auctioned in New York

Tens of thousands of photographs and negatives from a large collection of Hollywood images will be sold during a two-day auction in New York next month, Guernsey's auction house said on Monday.

The Movie Star News Collection, which photographer Irving Klaw started in 1939 after striking a deal with film studios, includes nearly three million posters, negatives and photos of stars. They include Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Rudolph Valentino, Judy Garland, Steve McQueen, Charlie Chaplin and Audrey Hepburn, among others.

Some 1,900 lots of photos and film memorabilia will go under the hammer on April 6 and 7. Pre-sale estimates range from $60 to $100 for some of the pictures to as much as $10,000 for a pair of high-heel shoes worn by model Betty Page, known as the "Queen of Pin-Ups."

"This is probably one of the world's largest collections of Hollywood images," said Joanne Grant, an archivist and auctioneer at Guernsey's who estimated that it is worth millions of dollars.

"This sale is all about black and white (prints) because it is mostly about Hollywood of the 20s, 30s and 40s, although Marilyn Monroe is from the 50s," Grant said.

The auction at The Arader Galleries will be the first time in 75 years that the archive will be open to the public, according to Guernsey's.

The collection includes original Movie Star News signs and pictures from movie sets of "The Wizard of Oz," "King Kong" and "The Godfather" as well as 600 photographs of Monroe.

It is being sold by Stuart Scheinman, a co-owner of the Las Vegas-based Entertainment Collectibles, who bought the collection last year from Ira Kramer, Klaw's nephew.

James Dean was molested at young age: Liz Taylor

"Rebel Without a Cause" screen legend James Dean was molested by his childhood minister, according to an interview with Elizabeth Taylor published Friday.

Hollywood icon Taylor, who died this week aged 79, revealed Dean's secret in an interview given 14 years ago, but requested that it not be published until after her death.

"I loved Jimmy. I'm going to tell you something, but it's off the record until I die. OK?" best-selling author Kevin Sessums quoted Taylor as saying, in the interview published by the Daily Beast online.

"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. In fact, I know it did. We talked about it a lot.

"During 'Giant' we'd stay up nights and talk and talk, and that was one of the things he confessed to me," she said, referring to the movie in which Taylor and Dean co-starred.

Dean died in a car crash in 1955 at age 24, shortly after making "Rebel Without a Cause," in which he played Jim Stark, a teenager with a troubled past arriving in a new town.

He was nominated for two posthumous Oscars -- for "East of Eden" in 1956 and "Giant" in 1957.

Taylor died Wednesday from congestive heart failure, and was buried Thursday in the Forest Lawn celebrity cemetery near Los Angeles, resting place to generations of stars including her long-time friend, pop icon Michael Jackson.

For sale: Stage where James Dean's career began

The stage in a long-closed central Indiana high school where James Dean first performed is up for sale.

The group that owns the dilapidated Fairmount High School hopes to find a buyer to salvage the stage as it works on plans to demolish the building, the Chronicle Tribune reported.

Madison-Grant Youth Basketball League treasurer Matt Patton says the group doesn't know how much the stage might be worth. The league has considered selling the auditorium chairs, but Patton says they're connected and would have to be sold as entire rows.

Dean grew up on a farm near Fairmount and graduated from the high school in 1949. He landed his iconic role in "Rebel Without a Cause" before his death at age 24 in a 1955 California car crash.

TV MOM: JERRY'S NOT MY BOY

JERRY Seinfeld's "mom" is feeling abandoned by her superstar TV son. In a chat with BlogTalkRadio airing today, Liz Sheridan, who spent nine years playing Helen Seinfeld on "Seinfeld," says "the most important thing in the whole world" is getting a movie made of her book, "Dizzy & Jimmy: My Life with James Dean - A Love Story." (That 2000 memoir recounts her brief engagement to Dean during the early '50s.) Moments later, Sheridan, 79, is asked, "If you had the ability to have dinner tonight with anyone in history, who would it be and why?" She replies, "Jerry Seinfeld. Why? I'd ask him to help me raise the money for my movie." And when the interviewer says, "I'm sure that he would if you called him up," Sheridan laments, "I don't even know how to get in touch with him. He's got so many 'people' in front of him, you can't get to him. And I don't have his phone number."

James Dean Gallery moves back to Fairmount

The James Dean Gallery is back where the 1950s Hollywood icon grew up.

Owner Dave Loehr moved the gallery back to its original spot in Fairmount, about 50 miles northeast of Indianapolis, after moving it to Gas City, then Auburn for a time.

In 2002, a small electrical fire in the house where the gallery is again located prompted Loehr to think about getting some of his rare Dean collectibles out of the structure.

The gallery moved to a custom-built, state-of-the-art museum at Gas City's Interstate 69 interchange for two years.

"It was great. It was also unsustainable. It got so big, so grand, that it didn't work," Loehr said.

He said he sold some of his memorabilia just to get out of the hole he was in because of the building. Needing a place to house his wares and regroup, Loehr moved the display to the Kruse Automobile Museum in Auburn.

But he decided to move back to the building where he started the gallery in 1988. It features a collection of Dean portraits and rare memorabilia, including hometown artifacts, collectibles, magazines and more.

Dean hit it big with starring roles in "East of Eden," "Rebel" and "Giant," which had just wrapped filming when a station wagon collided with Dean's new silver Porsche Spyder near rural Cholame, Calif., on Sept. 30, 1955. He died instantly.

Loehr is planning new brochures and hopes to market the gallery, which has no admission charge, to Midwestern families looking for a short, affordable day trip.

"James Dean will never die culturally," Loehr said. "There will always be fans."

Elvis regains crown as top-earning dead celebrity

Just because you are dead, it does not mean you can't stage a comeback.

Web site Forbes.com (www.forbes.com) said on Tuesday that Elvis Presley regained the top spot on its list of the highest-earning dead celebrities, ousting Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain who had beaten him last year.

Elvis shimmied his way back atop the seventh annual list of 13 top-earning legends that he had ruled since its inception, with estimated earnings of about $49 million in the year ending this month.

The rise from $42 million last year comes after CKX Entertainment, which bought part of his estate from daughter Lisa Marie Presley, embarked on a mission to renew interest in the late singer and actor.

Forbes.com said in a statement that the top 13 -- who generated massive amounts of merchandising revenue -- grossed a combined $232 million in the year.

In second place came Beatle John Lennon, who was murdered in New York in 1980 at the age of 40. He earned $44 million while the creator of Peanuts comic strip, Charles M. Schulz, took the third slot with earnings of $35 million.

Cobain was one of four who fell off this year's ranking. He debuted on the list in first place last year after his widow, Courtney Love, sold part of his song catalog for a reported $50 million.

Rounding out the top five on this year's list were George Harrison from the Beatles, who died in 2001, with $22 million, and German-born physicist Albert Einstein with $18 million.

Einstein has become a key trademark in child education due to the Disney-owned Baby Einstein brand of videos and toys.

The Beatles did well in the latest list in the wake of settling two long-standing legal disputes with the settlements believed to have exceeded $100 million.

Newcomers in the list were actor Steve McQueen and the "Godfather of Soul" James Brown who died late last year. Rapper Tupac Shakur regained a slot on the list as did James Dean.

Rounding out the top 13 were pop artist Andy Warhol, Theodor Geisel, better known as children's author Dr. Seuss, silver screen legend Marilyn Monroe and reggae superstar Bob Marley.

The other three bumped off this year's list were rhythm & blues pioneer Ray Charles, author J.R.R. Tolkien and country singer Johnny Cash.

Raising funds for James Dean arts center

Mickey Rooney, Pat Boone and Shannen Doherty helped kick off a fundraising campaign Thursday to restore an Indiana high school that will become the James Dean Performing Arts Center and Museum.

The celebrities gathered at the posh Spago restaurant to announce the campaign. Officials hope to collect $6 million to renovate Fairmount High School in Fairmount, Ind., where Dean was first exposed to acting.

"Our mission is to create a living tribute to the Rebel Without a Cause, and in the process preserve a beautiful and important building," Boone said in a statement.

Among the improvements will be refurbishing the original stage, auditorium and classrooms as well as creating an exhibit of Dean memorabilia.

Dean made only a handful of movies before he was killed when the silver Porsche Spyder he was driving collided with another vehicle near rural Cholame, Calif., on Sept. 30, 1955. He was 24 years old.

The high school has been empty for about 20 years, said Cal Oren, a spokesman for the nonprofit Fairmount Foundation, which is overseeing the fundraising effort.

Some minor work has been done to the building, but millions of dollars will have to be raised in order for the new venue to be opened.

"We think this is an appropriate tribute to James Dean," Oren said.

Playmate Bares Village Vice

MANY of the horny actors and literary geniuses of 1950s and '60s Greenwich Village were hot and heavy with former Playboy Playmate Alice Denham, who's dishing the sexual dirt on James Dean, Norman Mailer, Philip Roth and others in a new memoir.

In "Sleeping With Bad Boys," Denham writes that Dean was a "tender and considerate lover" who instantly fixated on her size 36-DD breasts: "You're so huge for a small girl," he said. "Jimmy was a t - - man, and he loved to nuzzle . . . He was skilled." But the young star also had an Oedipus complex, once asking her, "Are you my mother? You are, I think. You look like her."

Denham also recalls that Mailer, one of her literary heroes, turned out to be a bit weird. At one party, Mailer and his second wife, Adele, stripped and began jumping up and down on a bed, with Adele trying to coax Denham to get naked, too. "Norman was just square, no particular waist or pectoral definition, sturdy legs, large at the knees," and an "ordinary" sex organ.

When novelist Roth, who was married, hit on Denham, he didn't waste any time. "Roth was clearly a makeout artist. It was in his actions, his movement, and he was ever cocksure. Philip expected. Philip got," Denham writes. " 'Come here, baby,' he snarled as his shoulders and arms and flat athletic body . . . surrounded me in full athletic grope . . . Philip was a sex fiend." But Denham got turned off when Roth next suggested a threesome with his wife and then refused to listen to her as she tried to describe a novel she was writing. "Only the young and naive do that. I don't rap about it; I do it," Roth scolded her.

When Hugh Hefner selected Denham as a Playmate, he brought her into his bedroom and, to set the mood, turned on a cheesy stag film called "Switcheroo," featuring a psychedelic orgy that was "about as sexy as a carwash." And while she admits that Hef "had staying power [and was] a good ride . . . I was left with no particular feeling, no personal feeling of connection or uniting."

Denham, who still lives in the Village, will read from her book Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Cornelia Street Café.

From hats to undershirts, auction offers Hollywood collectibles

The white, cotton T-shirt with the $15,000 price tag has a Hollywood pedigree, having once hugged the torso of actor James Dean during the filming of "Rebel Without a Cause."

That makes it a valuable collectible to some of the quarter million registered customers who could bid on it during online auctions scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

The shirt is one of more than 1,800 items up for sale in the latest pop culture offering from Heritage Auction Galleries. The Dallas-based auction house specializes in the trivial - from Fred Astaire's top hat to Dean's undershirt.

Dean is the star attraction at this auction. An Indiana museum featuring all things Dean closed earlier this year, and Heritage secured the rights to unload the memorabilia.

Heritage's director of music and entertainment memorabilia said the Dean mystique should help the upcoming auction match or exceed its last sale, which totalled nearly US$1.6 million. "This auction, I think, trumps all the other ones," Doug Norwine said.

The Dean trophies range from the mundane to the macabre. The brown suit he wore in "East of Eden" reveals how slight the actor was - just five feet and eight inches. It could fetch $18,000. On the morbid side is a belt buckle-sized piece of the silver Porsche Spyder Dean was driving when he collided with a station wagon near rural Cholame, Calif., on Sept. 30, 1955. He died instantly at age 24.

The estimated worth of the car fragment is $5,000.

Norwine said some items are inappropriate to sell, such as pieces from the plane crash that killed baseball player Roberto Clemente.

"You do draw the line," Norwine said. "The big joke is I don't think I could sell Elvis's toe tag. I wouldn't want the plane that Buddy Holly died in."

In April, Heritage auctioned off the watch Holly was wearing when he died on Feb. 3, 1959, for more than $155,000.

Also on sale: guitars used by Elvis Presley, Eric Clapton and Kurt Cobain; a cane used by Charlie Chaplin; a night stand used by Marilyn Monroe.

Some items have historical value, such as a reel-to-reel recording of a teenage Bob Dylan singing four original songs with a high school buddy. It's believed to be the earliest recording of Dylan singing and could fetch a six-figure sale price.

Another featured item is a script of "The Godfather" used by Marlon Brando. His signature is on the inside cover, and his handwritten notations can be seen throughout. Its estimated value is $35,000.

Brando script, Dean clothes in memorabilia auction

Marlon Brando's annotated script of "The Godfather," letters from playwright Tennessee Williams and dozens of other personal items are going up for auction in the latest sale to open the door on the once highly reclusive actor.

Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas said on Wednesday the October 6-7 sale comprised about 100 items ranging from Brando's harmonica to his BAFTA British film award for the 1952 movie "Viva Zapata!" and still photographs taken during the filming of "Apocalypse Now."

The auction also features clothes worn in the films "East of Eden" and "Rebel Without a Cause" by James Dean. They were consigned for auction by a recently closed James Dean museum in Indiana.

The Dallas event is thought to be the second major sale of Brando memorabilia since the legendary actor died of lung failure in Los Angeles in July 2004 at the age of 80.

"Brando was simply one of the greatest actors and he was so reclusive in life that his mystique will always be celebrated," Doug Norwine, director of music and entertainment memorabilia at Heritage Auction Galleries, told Reuters. "These are such wild cards the prices could go through the roof."

A June 2005 auction of Brando's personal effects at Christie's in New York raised more than $2.4 million -- more than twice the presale estimate -- and included an annotated script of "The Godfather," which sold for a record $312,800.

Norwine said there was more than one "Godfather" script. The one being auctioned in October had been certified as genuine by Brando's assistant of 50 years, Alice Marchak, who has contributed most of the items.

"She (Marchak) said this was the script he would take into the trailer and practice his lines with. It is also signed," he said. He said the conservative estimate for the script was at least $35,000.

Brando, who won Oscars for "On the Waterfront" and "The Godfather," shunned mainstream Hollywood in the last 25 years of his life.

According to his biographer Peter Manso, he left instructions his bedroom be sealed with a padlock on his death. Manso said last year he thought Brando would be turning in his grave at having his belongings auctioned.

James Dean museum in Indiana closes after long financial struggle

The museum chronicling the short life of James Dean has closed after struggling financially since its opening in 2004.

David Loehr, owner of the James Dean Gallery, announced in December that he planned to close the museum, but an outpouring of contributions led him to give it another try. It ultimately shut down at the end of February, though, and Loehr has packed up and placed the memorabilia in storage.

"It was a real asset to the county and state, but I just couldn't keep it going," he told the Chronicle-Tribune of Marion for Thursday's editions. "It's time to move on to the next thing."

Loehr said he would soon be setting up a small display in the National Automotive & Truck Museum in Auburn.

That display, however, will not compare to the tribute Loehr had in the 650-square-metre gallery building. Only 25 per cent of what was on display in Gas City will be showcased, he said.

He also would like to place some of his collection at the old Fairmount High School, where Dean graduated in 1949, if a renovation effort there succeeds.

Loehr said he plans to continue operating the gallery's website and Rebel, Rebel - his memorabilia store in Fairmount.

Efforts to capitalize on Dean's ties to the Grant County area have been mixed.

The annual James Dean Festival in Fairmount draws large crowds each fall, but a special weekend event held last June in Marion to mark the 50th anniversary of the actor's death drew just 6,000 people - a fraction of the 100,000 fans organizers expected.

Dean was 24 and had hit it big with starring roles in East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant, which had just wrapped filming, when a station wagon collided with his vehicle near rural Cholame, Calif., on Sept. 30, 1955. Dean died instantly.

James Dean Museum to Close at End December

A museum chronicling the short life of "Rebel Without a Cause" star James Dean will close Dec. 31.

Owner David Loehr moved the James Dean Gallery to Gas City from Fairmount, where Dean attended high school, less than two years ago.

Although attendance had increased, it wasn't enough to match the cost of maintaining the temperature-controlled building, Loehr said Monday.

"The operating expenses and upkeep and payments are just more than we can handle," he said. "I'm just getting further into debt and I just can't do it anymore."

Dean, who was born in Marion in 1931, was killed in a car crash in Cholame, Calif., in 1955 at age 24. His movies also included "East of Eden" and "Giant."

Loehr opened the museum and gift shop in 1988 in a house near downtown Fairmount. After an electrical fire in early 2004, Loehr moved the gallery to the new 7,200-square-foot building near Interstate 69.

The James Dean Gallery contains a dozen pieces of wardrobe worn by Dean in his three major films, school papers, paintings by Dean, and original movie posters, books and magazines.

In a message posted on the gallery's Web site, Loehr said: "James Dean has influenced so many actors, directors and musicians, we were hoping that someone would step forward with the necessary financial assistance to remain in operation."

Loehr said he will put his collection into storage and continue to operate a separate gift shop in Fairmount.

A June festival in Marion marking the 50th anniversary of Dean's death drew about 6,000 people instead of the 100,000 organizers had expected. The annual James Dean Fest in September went on as scheduled.

"The loss of any locally owned business is quite a hit for a community," said Karen Niverson, director of the Marion-Grant County Convention and Visitors Bureau. "But I think the loss of the James Dean Gallery as a locally owned business is a harder hit, because it's so integral to the very identity of our area."

50 Years On, 'Giant' a Touchstone for Town

With its population eroded and the lone movie theater long shuttered, tiny Marfa clings to the memories of when it was "Giant."

Fifty years ago, this West Texas town, with its wide-open landscape and mountains on the horizon, became the setting for a Hollywood classic about a wealthy Texas cattle-raising family featuring James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson.

"Every day we have people who come through who are curious about 'Giant,'" says Joe Duncan, 46, who now owns the Paisano Hotel, home for two months in the summer of 1955 for dozens of the film's cast and crew.

Lee Puckett, events coordinator with the Marfa Chamber of Commerce, believes it's the iconic Dean that keeps people fascinated with the town and movie. "James Dean is remarkable, the following he has," he said.

To mark the golden anniversary, Warner Brothers is shipping a print of "Giant" from the corporate vault to Marfa for a Saturday benefit to raise money for the Marfa Public Library.

Since the Palace theater closed about 30 years ago, a projection truck will beam the movie to an inflatable screen for an audience of 500 people. For their $50, attendees will get a custom-made lawn chair carrying the film logo.

Dean achieved mythical status when he was killed driving his Porsche Spyder to a car race in California shortly after he finished filming "Giant." The young, cool actor played Jett Rink, the sullen ranch hand-turned-wildcatter who struck it rich by striking oil on his small piece of Presidio County real estate outside Marfa.

It's a fictional twist. Jett Rink's gusher wouldn't happen in real life, at least not around Marfa, about 180 miles southeast of El Paso and 75 miles north of the Texas-Mexico border. The chief minerals in Presidio County are sand and gravel, not oil.

The film was gold, however, for Warner Brothers. "Giant" won an Oscar in 1957 for director George Stevens, one of 10 Academy Award nominations the film earned, including best actor nominations for Hudson and Dean.

The movie remains a classic for the themes it represents, both on screen and off.

In the story based on the 1952 Edna Ferber novel, the Benedict clan headed by a patriarch played by Hudson was old Texas wealth with land and cattle, living in a three-story Victorian mansion on the vast ranch they called Reata. Oil-rich Rink was new money.

The film was among the first in the mainstream to address racism, in this case, against Hispanics in Texas. A famous scene in the movie has Bick Benedict, Hudson's character, objecting to a restaurant owner's refusal to serve Hispanics. Benedict is beaten by the bigoted cafe owner while "The Yellow Rose of Texas" plays in a jukebox.

The book already had received a cool reception in Texas, and Hudson recalled in 1983 getting letters during the filming in Marfa that warned: "Get out of Texas! Get out or you'll be shot."

The only shooting, however, was through a lens and directed by Stevens, who died in 1975. He spent about $1 million — some 20 percent of his budget — filming in Marfa.

"They looked around at a lot of places but obviously he wanted to film it in Texas," said George Stevens Jr., the founding director of the American Film Institute who worked on the screenplay with his father. "He just saw it as a place where he could create that image of this kind of Victorian house on a great plain."

Rink's "ranch" in the movie, where Dean gets doused with oil from his suddenly gushing well, is right along U.S. Highway 90 about midway between Marfa and the Reata site. A water windmill, teetering slightly and missing a couple blades, and a cistern are all that's left.

The Reata palace was only a facade, the product of Warner Brothers' carpenters. Today only the supporting poles remain, a ghostly wood skeleton monument towering over the dusty grazing land.

It's a few hundred yards from the home and ranch of Clay Evans, 69, whose father's ranch was the site for the movie. "We had to tear down a lot of it to keep it from falling on people," said Evans, who still has a dog-eared copy of the script. Inside, receipts show he and his brother received $15 for their work as wranglers.

The set was shipped among tons of equipment on flatbed truck trailers and railcars to Marfa, now a town of just 2,100 residents, about half the number of people who lived here when the movie was made.

"It was very exciting," said Jane White, who was paid $10 a day as an extra in the film. "People came from a hundred miles around to watch."

White, who was 29 at the time, and the other extras would get into long dresses and makeup at a building in downtown Marfa, then take a bus 16 miles west to the ranch.

For three days she stood talking with a friend, holding a glass of water colored brown with diluted Coke to resemble a highball, for a Texas barbecue scene that lasted only seconds on screen.

"It flashed by so quickly," she said of her film appearance.

Hudson, who died in 1985, remembered the intense heat of West Texas.

"Hot, with no relief," he told Southern Methodist University history professor Ronald Davis in an interview that was part of an SMU oral history project. " ... the weather just put its thumb on us and kept us right down into the ground."

Taylor described the experience of making "Giant" as "profound."

"My relationships with George Stevens, James Dean and Rock Hudson changed my life in many ways," she told the AP. "The people of Texas were warm and wonderful, and my memories of their kindness stay in my heart after all these years."

As a 15-year-old, Lucy Garcia watched the filming during the day, then spent evenings hobnobbing with the movie people at the Paisano. She keeps a framed photo of Dean on her bookshelf and a box of "Giant" mementoes at her home — near the intersection of Dean and Texas streets.

"When they left, the city was very sad to see them go," she said of the actors.

At the Paisano, a room in the lobby is filled with photos and movie posters and offers Dean and "Giant" souvenirs, T-shirts and books. The hotel restaurant is called Jett's Grill.

Duncan said his hotel is booked for the anniversary event, and he's somewhat surprised.

"Who would have thought 25 years ago when they had a 25th anniversary they'd still be talking about it today?" he said.

James Dean's Star Shines 50 Years Later

Red lipstick kisses are sun-baked into James Dean's pink granite gravestone, testifying to the enduring allure of the man who, 50 years after his death, remains a symbol of rebellious, misunderstood youth.

Frozen in time by death — forever handsome, sullen and projecting a cool nonchalance — Dean is winning new fans with his legacy of cinematic magic, sex appeal and tragedy.

His three big films have been digitally restored and were released Tuesday as a DVD box set. Film crews from around the world are visiting his hometown for documentaries.

And starting Friday, up to 100,000 people — including Martin Sheen and Dennis Hopper — are expected to converge on Marion, Ind., his birthplace, for a three-day festival featuring outdoor screenings of "East of Eden," "Rebel Without a Cause" and "Giant" on a huge screen at Marion's airport.

The former Indiana farm boy's lasting appeal stems in part from the era in which he made his big, but brief, splash, said San Francisco-based film historian David Thomson.

Dean arrived on the silver screen as teenagers were searching for unorthodox heroes in the conformist Eisenhower era.

His acting style, fresh and filled with angst, was new and revealed a deep talent, Thomson said. And by dying young — at 24 — Dean never experienced the ravages of age and weight gain like peers Marlon Brando and Elvis Presley.

"Dean is absolutely at his peak — forever. He was already immortal before most of us saw him and that's part of the fascination," Thomson said. "Everyone's got their own notion of what would have happened to James Dean if he had not died."

Dean was 9 years old and living with his parents in California when his mother died of cancer in 1940. His father sent him to live with an aunt and uncle on their farm in Fairmount, about 50 miles northeast of Indianapolis.

Dean's cousin, 61-year-old Marcus Winslow Jr., said the man he regarded as an older brother grew up in a loving Quaker home but was moody at times, haunted by his mother's death. He loved working on and racing motorcycles and was artistic, with a talent for painting, sculpting and acting in high school plays.

By the time he left Fairmount, Dean was confident in his acting abilities, Winslow said.

"He wanted to reach the top of his field just a fast as he possibly could. And he did, through a lot of hard work," said Winslow, Dean's primary heir.

After graduating from Fairmount High School in 1949, Dean headed west to California, attending UCLA before moving to New York, where he was accepted into the prestigious Actors Studio. He had several roles on television and on Broadway before landing his first starring film role, in "East of Eden."

"Rebel" followed and filming for "Giant" had just wrapped when a station wagon collided with Dean's silver Porsche Spyder near rural Cholame, Calif., on Sept. 30, 1955. He died instantly, and Fairmount was soon besieged by a wave of grieving fans.

They still come to the town of 3,000, which has several sites, stores and a museum dedicated to its favorite son. Businesses there flourish during an annual fall festival that features a Dean look-alike contest and a classic car show.

His legacy extends well beyond Indiana. Forbes magazine last fall listed the actor 15th among 22 deceased celebrities who earned more than $5 million in 2003.

Mark Roesler, chairman of Indianapolis-based CMG Worldwide Inc., which licenses the names and images of celebrities, said the company has contracts with more than 200 companies that market about 1,500 products with Dean's name or image.

The James Dean Fest, which runs Friday to Sunday, will give fans a chance to embrace his legacy — and even buy a house in Fairmount where he once lived. It will be auctioned Saturday.

Visitors from as far away as Japan and Australia are expected to join Hopper (who co-starred with Dean in "Giant" and "Rebel") and Sheen, who will introduce a documentary he narrated called "James Dean: Forever Young" that details Dean's pre-Hollywood work on nearly 40 TV programs.

Three years ago, 56-year-old Pam Crawford of Little Rock, Ark., became president of the James Dean Remembered International Fan Club, which has about 400 members — twice the number when she took over — from 20 countries.

She said Dean was so appealing because "he just seemed to be saying, `Why should I have to do something because everyone else is doing it a certain way?' ...

"He kind of freed us to be ourselves because he came along at a time when everyone was very conventional. He barely combed his hair and he wore whatever he pleased, but he still looked extraordinarily good."

Friends Recall James Dean

Almost a half-century after his death, the legend of James Dean lives on.

In "James Dean: Sense Memories," many of those who knew him retrace the final year of the brooding, iconic actor whose influence has been felt across generations, although he had only three starring vehicles -- "East of Eden," "Rebel Without a Cause" and "Giant." The new documentary launches the 19th season of the PBS series "American Masters" on Wednesday, May 11 (check local listings).

Woven between clips of Dean in his movies and in interviews are comments from fellow performers Martin Landau, Eartha Kitt and Lois Smith. Also featured are filmmakers George Stevens Jr., whose father directed Dean in "Giant," and Mark Rydell.

Landau, who would go on to television fame in "Mission: Impossible" and an Oscar win for "Ed Wood," was particularly close to Dean during their days as struggling actors in 1950s New York. He admits that at the time, though, he didn't necessarily want it widely known.

"Marlon Brando had two good friends," Landau says, "both of whom were good actors and good guys, but you couldn't say their names without also saying 'Marlon's friend.' I didn't want that. It was like having a title, and I didn't want to be known just as Jimmy's friend.

"I felt I had a career in store, and (such a close identification is) almost like being the sibling of someone who's well-known. It's hard to shake that. I didn't know Jimmy would die, but I knew his career would flourish, and I didn't want to be in his shadow."

Landau vividly recalls receiving the news that Dean had died in a car accident on Sept. 30, 1955. "I was home, and I got several phone calls." He also remembers the effect of watching Dean on the screen.

"You hadn't seen anyone quite like him on film before, and it obviously reached out, because it still has an impact on people. If you talk to Martin Sheen, he'll probably tell you he's an actor because of James Dean. There's a timelessness to what he did, because it still resonates."

Martin Sheen and Dennis Hopper join crowds at James Dean festival

Martin Sheen and Dennis Hopper will be among the celebrities visiting Indiana to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of James Dean.

The James Dean Fest is scheduled June 3-5 at the airport in Marion, about 100 kilometres northeast of Indianapolis. Included on the festival schedule is the American premiere of a documentary on Dean's life, James Dean: Forever Young, narrated by Sheen.

Sheen, who stars in NBC's The West Wing, has said he was inspired to become an actor after watching Dean's performance in the film East of Eden.

He will introduce the new documentary, which will be shown on June 4.

Organizers had wanted to show Dean's movies on the Fairmount farm where he grew up, but the plans outgrew the farm. Warner Bros. moved the event to Marion, where Dean was born.

Dean died Sept. 30, 1955, in a car crash in Cholame, Calif. He was 24.

Dean's three movies, Giant, East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause, also will be shown during the three-day festival. The films will be introduced by actors who co-starred with Dean.

"They're going to talk about the movies, they're going to be in the VIP tent, they're going to be doing some signatures," said Israel Baron, one of the event's organizers. "They're going to have different venues they will be attending."

James Dean, screen 'Giant'

Fifty years after James Dean died in a car crash at 24, Warner Bros. is planning a year-long tribute to one of Hollywood's rebel actors.

The highlight will be the release May 31 of The Complete James Dean Collection ($69) with double-disc special-edition DVDs of Dean's three big movies: East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant.

"Dean revolutionized film acting, and despite his brief career, he remains an international icon 50 years later," says Warner Home Video's Michael Radiloff. Dean was nominated for two Oscars for Giant and Eden after his death.

East of Eden, Dean's first film, has never been on DVD. Extras include footage from the 1955 New York premiere, the Forever James Dean documentary and screen tests.

"I love the screen tests with Dean and Paul Newman, who was considered for the role of Dean's brother," Radiloff says. "You see these two young actors, both unknowns, just clowning around."

The East of Eden DVD also will include Dean's legendary public service announcement cautioning teenagers to drive safely.

He made that ad in July 1955, two months before he was killed in his silver Porsche Spyder, nicknamed "Little Bastard." Dean was driving along a rural highway near Cholame, Calif., on his way to a race in Salinas on Sept. 30. Around dusk, Dean slammed into a car making a left turn in front of him. He died of a broken neck and other injuries.

Dean had major roles in just three movies, but he had a solid reputation as a television actor.

"Jimmy was in, I think, 37 television shows," says Marcus Winslow, Dean's first cousin.

Dean was raised on the Winslow family farm in Fairmount, Ind. He moved there after his mother died when he was 9.

Dean frequently returned to the farm after his career took off. Winslow still remembers his cousin's last visit, in February 1955.

"He had just made East of Eden, but it hadn't been released yet," Winslow says. "My dad made mention that he seemed a little nervous, but other than that, he was the same old Jimmy. He bought me a BB gun, and he bought Mom and Dad a red tilt-back leather chair."

Jane Withers, who co-starred with Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson in the young actor's third and final film, Giant, has vivid memories of Dean's last days.

The day before he set out on his doomed road trip to Salinas, he dropped by Withers' house in the Holmby Hills section of Los Angeles. He gave her his favorite pink shirt, which she had washed each day for him during the nine months they spent in Marfa, Texas, filming Giant.

"He had put it in a brown paper bag and said, 'I want you to keep it for me,' " recalls Withers, who spent many nights in Texas with Dean, reading books and plays. "When he said goodbye, I said, 'I won't say goodbye, just God bless.' He hugged me and thanked me for all the things I shared with him down in Texas. But then I had the most horrible feeling as he went down the circular driveway. He waved and yelled, 'See ya,' but I (felt) I would never see him again."

A few days later, Withers was on the Giant set when director George Stevens told the cast Dean was dead.

"There are no words that could be written to describe how we felt," Withers says. "I lost a very special friend that day. He truly was one of a kind."

Friends Remember Dean on His Birthday

Friends and former co-stars of James Dean shared bittersweet memories of the late screen legend Tuesday on what would have been his 74th birthday, in a tribute that begins a yearlong celebration leading to his 75th.

Dean, whose fame skyrocketed following his starring role in "Rebel Without a Cause," died in 1955 at age 24 when his Porsche Spyder collided with another car in the central California town of Cholame.

One of Dean's fans, Martin Sheen, said Dean's performance in "East of Eden," which he first saw as a young boy the year Dean died, inspired him to become an actor.

"All of his movies had a profound effect on my life, in my work and all of my generation," Sheen said. "He transcended cinema acting. It was no longer acting, it was human behavior."

Jane Withers, who co-starred with Dean in "Giant," said working with the sometimes aloof actor was the highlight of her career, but she had to get past his attitude early on.

"He acted like a little kid and when someone acts like a kid, I treat them like one," Withers said. "I didn't put up with any guff, and because of it, we had a very warm relationship."

Dean's aloofness was a product of his desire to remain focused on work, suggested Earl Holliman, who was also in "Giant."

"Jimmy was a guy who didn't care what people think of him," Holliman said. "He said that wasn't important. What was important was what was on the screen."

Martin Landau, who got to know Dean in the early 1950s when Dean moved to New York City from his native Marion, Ind., to become an actor, recalled meeting him at an open casting call.

"We got along immediately," Landau said. "We would talk about life, career, our values. He was my closest friend."

Landau dismissed the view that Dean's rebellious nature was destined to drive him to an early grave.

"We had talked about growing older," Landau said. "He used to worry that he looked like a kid when he became an actor."

The photographer Phil Stern, who captured a famous shot of Dean with a turtleneck covering half his face, disagreed.

"Dean was very prescient because he structured his career in such a way that he passed away — which I believe was inevitable — in a way that precluded the possibility of people seeing him as a potbellied, bald man," Stern said.

Despite his brief Hollywood career, Dean's image as rebel antihero still resonates with marketers.

Warner Brothers plans to release "Giant," "Rebel" and "East of Eden" on DVD this year. And Dean's image will adorn two NASCAR (news - web sites) racing cars this summer.

Stage plays based on Dean's films will also be staged in several cities and the actor's hometown plans to amp up its annual festival commemorating the star, which typically draws up to 60,000 people.

"I invite you to our area," Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold said, "where cool was born."

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