1001 W 75TH ST. WOODRIDGE, IL 630-427-1880

Hollywood Memorial

James Dean

Dean moved from Fairmount Indiana to New York City to pursue roles in live stage performances. He honed his skills while studying under Lee Strasberg in his famous Actors Studio school. Roles soon came his way with director Elia Kazan signing him for the starring role of ‘Cal’ in ‘East of Eden.’ James Dean would make only two more films in his brief Hollywood career…. ‘Rebel Without a Cause,’ and ‘Giant.’ Only the first was released before his death but his noted performance netted him a posthumous nomination for Best Actor at the Academy Awards. The other two were released after his death while again receiving posthumous nominations in each. Two more movies were pending, for M.G.M. ‘Somebody Up There Likes Me’ and for Warner Bros, ‘The Left Handed Gun’ which was also part of a signed 9-picture contract with that studio worth $1 million. One can only imagine the heights of a career that awaited him had not fate intervened in the form of his tragic death. James Dean was in the process of driving his new Porsche 550 Spyder to a race in northern California. While on Route 466 near Cholame, California, an automobile driven from the opposite direction attempted a turn, crossing into Dean’s lane resulting in a head-on collision. The mortally injured Dean was rushed to the Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival, gone at the age of 24. Note all the stars of ‘Rebel Without a Cause,’ Dean Sal Mineo and Natalie Wood all died young, violent, tragic deaths. In September 2005, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of his death, the California Highway Department named the 46-41 Highway Junction where he died ‘The James Dean Memorial Junction.’ Quite an honor, who needs an Oscar? One of the few we have included that is not actually buried in Hollywood, but his status as a cult/pop icon has made his headstone like a soap opera with a life of its own. It is constantly being chipped away by souvenir hunters and many times it has been stolen intact, found and returned to his grave at Park Cemetery in his hometown of Fairmount, Indiana.