This article is about the actor. For other uses, see James Dean (disambiguation).
James Byron Dean (February 8, 1931 - September 30, 1955) was an American actor. He is a cultural icon of teenage disillusionment, as expressed in the title of his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause (1955), in which he starred as troubled teenager Jim Stark. The other two roles that defined his stardom were loner Cal Trask in East of Eden (1955) and surly ranch hand Jett Rink in Giant (1956). Dean's enduring fame and popularity rest on his performances in only these three films, in two of which he is in the leading role.
Dean's premature death in a car crash cemented his legendary status. He became the first actor to receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, and remains the only actor to have had two posthumous acting nominations. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked him the 18th best male movie star on their AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars list.
Dean was born at the Seven Gables apartment house at the corner of 4th Street and McClure Street in Marion, Indiana, the son of Winton Dean (January 17, 1907 - February 21, 1995) and Mildred Wilson (September 15, 1910 - July 14, 1940). Six years after his father had left farming to become a dental technician, Dean and his family moved to Santa Monica, California. He was enrolled at Brentwood Public School in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, but transferred soon afterward to the McKinley Elementary school. The family spent several years there, and by all accounts, young Dean was very close to his mother. According to Michael DeAngelis, she was "the only person capable of understanding him". In 1938, she was suddenly struck with acute stomach pains and began to lose weight quickly. She died of uterine cancer when Dean was nine years old.
Unable to care for his son, Dean's father sent him to live with his sister Ortense and her husband Marcus Winslow on a farm in Fairmount, Indiana, where he was raised in a Quaker household. Winton served in World War II and later remarried. In his adolescence, Dean sought the counsel and friendship of a local Methodist pastor, the Rev. James DeWeerd. DeWeerd seemed to have had a formative influence upon Dean, especially upon his future interests in bullfighting, car racing, and theater. According to Billy J. Harbin, Dean had "an intimate relationship with his pastor, which began in his senior year of high school and endured for many years". Their alleged sexual relationship was earlier suggested in the 1994 book Boulevard of Broken Dreams: The Life, Times, and Legend of James Dean by Paul Alexander. In 2011, it was reported that he once confided in Elizabeth Taylor that he was sexually abused by a minister approximately two years after his mother's death. Other reports on Dean's life also suggest that he was either sexually abused by DeWeerd as a child or had a sexual relationship with him as a late teenager.
In high school, Dean's overall performance was mediocre. However, he was considered to be a popular student, having played on the baseball and varsity basketball teams, studied drama, and competed in public speaking through the Indiana High School Forensic Association. After graduating from Fairmount High School in May 1949, Dean moved back to California with his dog, Max, to live with his father and stepmother. He enrolled in Santa Monica College (SMC) and majored in pre-law. He transferred to UCLA for one semester, and changed his major to drama, which resulted in estrangement from his father. He pledged the Sigma Nu fraternity but was never initiated. While at UCLA, Dean was picked from a group of 350 actors to portray Malcolm in Macbeth. At that time, he also began acting in James Whitmore's workshop. In January 1951, he dropped out of UCLA to pursue a full-time career as an actor.
Dean's first television appearance was in a Pepsi Cola television commercial. He quit college to act full-time and was cast in his first speaking part, as John the Beloved Disciple in Hill Number One, an Easter television special dramatizing the resurrection of Jesus. Dean worked at the widely filmed Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif during production of the program, for which a replica of the tomb of Jesus was built on location at the ranch.
Dean subsequently obtained three walk-on roles in movies: as a soldier in Fixed Bayonets!, as a boxing trainer in Sailor Beware, a Paramount comedy starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis., and as a youth in Has Anybody Seen My Gal? While struggling to get jobs in Hollywood, Dean also worked as a parking lot attendant at CBS Studios, during which time he met Rogers Brackett, a radio director for an advertising agency, who offered him professional help and guidance in his chosen career, as well as a place to stay.
In October 1951, following the encouragement of actor James Whitmore's and his mentor Rogers Brackett's advice, Dean moved to New York City. There he worked as a stunt tester for the game show Beat the Clock. He also appeared in episodes of several CBS television series, The Web, Studio One, and Lux Video Theatre, before gaining admission to the legendary Actors Studio to study method acting under Lee Strasberg. Proud of this accomplishment, Dean referred to the Studio in a 1952 letter to his family as "The greatest school of the theater. It houses great people like Marlon Brando, Julie Harris, Arthur Kennedy, Mildred Dunnock. ... Very few get into it ... It is the best thing that can happen to an actor. I am one of the youngest to belong."
Dean's career picked up and he performed in further episodes of such early 1950s television shows as Kraft Television Theatre, Robert Montgomery Presents, Danger, and General Electric Theater. One early role, for the CBS series Omnibus in the episode "Glory in the Flower", saw Dean portraying the type of disaffected youth he would later immortalize in Rebel Without a Cause. (This summer 1953 program was also notable for featuring the song "Crazy Man, Crazy", one of the first dramatic TV programs to feature rock and roll.) Positive reviews for Dean's 1954 theatrical role as "Bachir", a pandering North African houseboy, in an adaptation of André Gide's book The Immoralist, led to calls from Hollywood.
East of Eden:
In 1953, director Elia Kazan was looking for a substantive actor to play the emotionally complex role of 'Cal Trask', for screenwriter Paul Osborn's adaptation of John Steinbeck's 1952 novel East of Eden. The lengthy novel deals with the story of the Trask and Hamilton families over the course of three generations, focusing especially on the lives of the latter two generations in Salinas Valley, California, from the mid-19th century through the 1910s. In contrast to the book, the film script focused on the last portion of the story, predominantly with the character of Cal. Though he initially seems more aloof and emotionally troubled than his twin brother Aron, Cal is soon seen to be more worldly, business savvy, and even sagacious than their pious and constantly disapproving father (played by Raymond Massey) who seeks to invent a vegetable refrigeration process. Cal is bothered by the mystery of their supposedly dead mother, and discovers she is still alive and a brothel-keeping 'madam' (Jo Van Fleet).
Before casting Cal, Elia Kazan said that he wanted "a Brando" for the role and Osborn suggested the relatively unknown young actor, James Dean. Dean met with Steinbeck who did not like the moody, complex young man personally, but thought him to be perfect for the part. Dean was cast in the role and on April 8, 1954, left New York City and headed for Los Angeles to begin shooting.
Much of Dean's performance in the film is unscripted, including his dance in the bean field and his fetal-like posturing while riding on top of a train boxcar (after searching out his mother in nearby Monterey). The most famous improvisation of the film occurs when Cal's father rejects his gift of $5,000, money Cal earned by speculating in beans prior to World War I. Instead of running away from his father as the script called for, Dean instinctively turned to Massey and in a gesture of extreme emotion, lunged forward and grabbed him in a full embrace, crying. Kazan kept this and Massey's shocked reaction in the film. Dean's performance in the film foreshadowed his role as Jim Stark in Rebel Without A Cause. Both characters are angst-ridden protagonists and misunderstood outcasts, desperately craving approval from a father figure.
For the 1955 Academy Awards, Dean received a posthumous nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in East of Eden, the first official posthumous acting nomination in Academy Awards history. (Jeanne Eagels was unofficially nominated for Best Actress in 1929, when the rules for selection of the winner were different.) East of Eden was the only film starring Dean that he would see released in his lifetime.
Rebel Without a Cause:
Dean quickly followed up his role in Eden with a starring role as Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause, a film that would prove to be hugely popular among teenagers. The film has been cited as an accurate representation of teenage angst. It co-starred teen actors Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo, and Dennis Hopper and was directed by Nicholas Ray.
Giant, which was posthumously released in 1956, saw Dean play a supporting role to Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson. This was due to his desire to avoid being typecast as Jim Stark and Cal Trask. In the film, he plays Jett Rink, an oil-rich Texan ranch hand who strikes oil and becomes wealthy. His role was notable in that, in order to portray an older version of his character in the film's later scenes, Dean dyed his hair gray and shaved some of it off to give himself a receding hairline.
Giant would prove to be Dean's last film. At the end of the film, Dean was supposed to make a drunken speech at a banquet; this is nicknamed the 'Last Supper' because it was the last scene before his sudden death. Dean mumbled so much due to his desire to make the scene more realistic by actually being inebriated for the take that director George Stevens decided the scene had to be overdubbed by Nick Adams, who had a small role in the film, because Dean had died before the film was edited.
For the 1956 Academy Awards, Dean received his second posthumous Best Actor Academy Award nomination for his role in Giant.
Screenwriter William Bast was one of Dean's closest friends, a fact acknowledged by Dean's family. According to Dean's first biographer (1956), Bast was his roommate at UCLA and later in New York, and knew Dean throughout the last five years of his life. Fifty years after Dean's death, he stated that their friendship had included some sexual intimacy.
While at UCLA, Dean dated Beverly Wills, an actress with CBS, and Jeanette Lewis, a classmate. Bast and Dean often double-dated with them. Wills began dating Dean alone, later telling Bast, "Bill, there's something we have to tell you. It's Jimmy and me. I mean, we're in love." Dean also kept in contact with his girlfriend in New York, Barbara Glenn, whom he dated for two years. Their love letters sold at auction in 2011 for $36,000.
Early in Dean's career, after Dean signed his contract with Warner Brothers, the studio's public relations department began generating stories about Dean's liaisons with a variety of young actresses who were mostly drawn from the clientele of Dean's Hollywood agent, Dick Clayton. Studio press releases also grouped "Dean together with two other actors, Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter, identifying each of the men as an 'eligible bachelor' who has not yet found the time to commit to a single woman: 'They say their film rehearsals are in conflict with their marriage rehearsals.'"
Dean's best-remembered relationship was with young Italian actress Pier Angeli, whom he met while Angeli was shooting The Silver Chalice on an adjoining Warner lot, and with whom he exchanged items of jewelry as love tokens. Angeli, during an interview fourteen years after their relationship ended, described their times together:
We used to go together to the California coast and stay there secretly in a cottage on a beach far away from prying eyes. We'd spend much of our time on the beach, sitting there or fooling around, just like college kids. We would talk about ourselves and our problems, about the movies and acting, about life and life after death. We had a complete understanding of each other. We were like Romeo and Juliet, together and inseparable. Sometimes on the beach we loved each other so much we just wanted to walk together into the sea holding hands because we knew then that we would always be together.
In his autobiography East of Eden, director Elia Kazan dismissed the notion that Dean could possibly have had any success with women, although he remembered hearing Dean and Angeli loudly making love in Dean's dressing room. In 1997, the television movie Race with Destiny was produced, a true-story account of the love affair between Dean and Pier Angeli. It was shot on location "where he lived and loved" until his death.
Despite their strong love for each other, a number of forces led them apart. Angeli's mother disapproved of Dean's casual dress and what were, for her at least, radical behavior traits: his t-shirt attire, late dates, fast cars, and the fact that he was not a Catholic. Her mother said that such behavior was not acceptable in Italy. In addition, MGM, where he worked, tried to talk him out of marrying and he himself told Angeli that he didn't want to get married.
After finishing his role for East of Eden, he took a brief trip to New York in October 1954. While he was away, Angeli unexpectedly announced her engagement to Italian-American singer Vic Damone. The press was shocked and Dean expressed his irritation. Angeli married Damone the following month. Gossip columnists reported that Dean watched the wedding from across the road on his motorcycle, even gunning the engine during the ceremony, although Dean later denied doing anything so "dumb."
Some, like Bast and Paul Alexander, believe the relationship was a mere publicity stunt. Pier Angeli talked only once about the relationship in her later life in an interview, giving vivid descriptions of romantic meetings at the beach. Dean biographer John Howlett said these read like wishful fantasies, as Bast claims them to be.
Actress Liz Sheridan asserts that she and Dean had a short affair in New York. Again Bast is skeptical as to whether this was a true love affair and says Dean and Sheridan did not spend much time together. Dean also dated Swiss actress Ursula Andress. "She was seen riding around Hollywood on the back of James's motorcycle," writes biographer Darwin Porter. She was also seen with Dean in his sports cars, and was with him on the day he bought the car that he died in. At the time, Andress was also dating Marlon Brando. Andress remembered her courtship with Dean: "He came by my house late. He came in room like wild animal, and smell of everything I don't like," she said. "We go hear jazz music and he leave table. Say he go play drums. He no come back. I don't like to be alone. I go home. He come by my home later and say he sorry." She added that Brando was "particularly interested in finding out from Ursula who the better lover was: James Dean or himself. It drove him crazy."
Rumors that Dean avoided the draft by registering as a homosexual appear to be of doubtful authenticity. Not only was he extremely near-sighted and required glasses, he was also a Quaker, either of which was sufficient cause for him to be excused from service.
Auto racing career:
In April 1954, after securing the co-starring role of Cal Trask in East of Eden, Dean purchased a 1955 Triumph Tiger T110, 650 cc motorcycle and later, a used red, 1953 MG TD sports car. In March 1955, Dean traded the MG for a new 1955 Porsche Super Speedster purchased from Competition Motors in Hollywood. He traded the Triumph T110 for a 1955 Triumph TR5 Trophy three days after filming wrapped on East of Eden.
Just before filming began on Rebel Without a Cause, Dean entered the Palm Springs Road Races with the Speedster on March 26-27. He finished first overall in Saturday's novice class and second overall in the Sunday main event. Dean also raced the Speedster at Bakersfield on May 1-2, finishing first in class and third overall. His final race with the Speedster was at Santa Barbara on Memorial Day, May 30, where he started in the eighteenth position, worked his way up to fourth, before over-revving his engine and blowing a piston. He did not finish the race. His racing career was put on hold when Warner Brothers barred him from all racing during the production of Giant.
Accident and aftermath:
Longing to return to the "liberating prospects" of motor racing, James Dean was scheduled to compete at a racing event in Salinas, California on October 1, 1955. On September 30, 1955, Dean and his Porsche factory-trained mechanic, Rolf Wütherich, were at Competition Motors in Hollywood preparing Dean's new Porsche 550 Spyder for the weekend sports car races at Salinas. Dean originally intended to trailer the Porsche to Salinas behind his 1955 Ford Country Squire station wagon, driven by friend and movie stuntman Bill Hickman, and accompanied by professional photographer Sanford H. Roth, who was planning a photo story of Dean at the races for Colliers Magazine. Because the Porsche did not have enough "break-in" miles prior to the race, Wütherich recommended that Dean drive the Spyder to Salinas to get more "seat time" behind the wheel, and subsequently accompanied Dean on the journey.
The group had coffee and doughnuts at the Hollywood Ranch Market on Vine Street across from Competition Motors (not the legendary Farmer's Market at W 3rd St & S Fairfax Ave as erroneously reported) before leaving around 1:15pm PST. They stopped at the Mobil station for gasoline on Ventura Blvd. at Beverly Glen Blvd. in Sherman Oaks around 2:00pm The group then headed north on the Golden State Freeway US 99 (today, the route of Interstate 5) and then over the "Grapevine" toward Bakersfield.
At 3:30pm, Dean was stopped and ticketed by California Highway Patrolman O.V. Hunter at Mettler Station on Wheeler Ridge, just south of Bakersfield, for driving 65 mph (105 km/h) in a 55 mph (89 km/h) zone. Hickman, following behind the Spyder in the Ford with the trailer, was also ticketed for driving 20 mph (32 km/h) over the limit, as the speed limit for all vehicles towing a trailer was 45 mph (72 km/h). After receiving the speeding citations, Dean and Hickman turned left onto Route 166/33 to avoid going through Bakersfield's slow 25 miles per hour (40 km/h) downtown district. Route 166/33 was a known shortcut for sports car drivers going to Salinas called "the racer's road", which took them directly to Blackwells Corner at Route 466 (now State Route 46). At Blackwells Corner, Dean stopped briefly for refreshments and met up with fellow racers Lance Reventlow and Bruce Kessler, who were also on their way to the Salinas road races in Reventlow's Mercedes-Benz 300SL coupe. As Reventlow and Kessler were leaving, they agreed to meet for dinner in Paso Robles.
At approximately 5:15pm, Dean and Hickman left Blackwells Corner, driving west on Route 466 (now State Route 46) toward Paso Robles, approximately 60 miles away. Dean accelerated in the Porsche and left the Ford station wagon far behind. Further along on Route 466, the Porsche crested Polonio Pass and headed down the long Antelope Grade, passing cars along the way toward the junction floor at Route 466 and Route 41. At approximately 5:45pm, a black-and-white 1950 Ford Tudor coupe driven at high speed was headed east on Route 466 just west of the junction near Shandon. Its driver, 23-year-old Cal Poly student Donald Turnupseed, made a left turn onto Route 41 headed north, toward Fresno. As Turnupseed's Ford crossed over the center line, Dean, who was driving at a reported speed of 85 mph (137 km/h), apparently tried to steer the Spyder in a "side stepping" racing maneuver, but with insufficient time and space, the two cars crashed almost head-on. The Spyder flipped up into the air and landed back on its wheels in a gully, northwest of the junction. The sheer velocity of the impact sent the much-heavier Ford broad-sliding 39 feet (12 m) down Route 466 in the westbound lane.
According to a story in the October 1, 2005, edition of the Los Angeles Times, California Highway Patrol Captain Ernest Tripke and his partner, Corporal Ronald Nelson, were finishing a coffee break in Paso Robles when they were called to the scene of the accident at the Route 466/41 junction. Before Officers Tripke and Nelson arrived, James Dean had been extricated from the Spyder's mangled cockpit, his left foot having been crushed between the clutch and brake pedal. Dean was severely injured from the crash with a broken neck and several internal and external injuries. Nelson witnessed an unconscious and dying Dean placed into an ambulance, and a barely conscious Wütherich, who had been thrown from the Spyder, lying on the shoulder of the road next to the wrecked Porsche. Dean and Wütherich were taken in the same ambulance to the Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital, 28 miles (45 km) away. Dean was pronounced dead on arrival at the Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital at 6:20pm.
Though initially slow to reach newspapers in the eastern United States, details of Dean's death rapidly spread via radio and television. By October 2, his death had received significant coverage from domestic and foreign media outlets. Dean's funeral was held on October 8, 1955 at the Fairmount Friends Church in Fairmount, Indiana. An estimated 600 mourners were in attendance, while another 2400 fans gathered outside the building during the procession.
An inquest into Dean's death occurred on October 11, 1955 at the Paso Robles City Hall, where a verdict determined that he was at fault due to reckless speeding, thus absolving Turnupseed of any blame.
Ironically, Dean had appeared in an episode of Warner Brothers Presents a few weeks prior to his death. The segment concerned the subject of driver safety and Dean's experience on the road. At the end of the segment, instead of saying the catch phrase "The life you save may be your own", Dean ad-libbed the line "The life you might save might be mine". After his fatal car accident, the segment was never aired.
Legacy and iconic status:
Impact on culture and media:
American teenagers of the mid-1950s, when James Dean's major films were made, identified with Dean and the roles he played, especially that of Jim Stark in Rebel Without A Cause. This film depicts the dilemma of a typical teenager of the time, who feels that no one, not even his peers, can understand him. Joe Hyams says that Dean was "one of the rare stars, like Rock Hudson and Montgomery Clift, whom both men and women find sexy". According to Marjorie Garber, this quality is "the undefinable extra something that makes a star." Dean's iconic appeal has been attributed to the public's need for someone to stand up for the disenfranchised young of the era, and to the air of androgyny that he projected onscreen. Dean's "loving tenderness towards the besotted Sal Mineo in Rebel Without a Cause continues to touch and excite gay audiences by its honesty. The Gay Times Readers' Awards cited him as the male gay icon of all time."
Dean is mentioned or featured in various songs. The chorus of David Essex's original "Rock On" includes the refrain "Jimmy Dean. James Dean." Dean is mentioned in Rob Zarro's song Infamous Route 66: "I'm seeing really cool things, pictures of Marilyn and James Dean." The Eagles song named after Dean explores his fast and dangerous lifestyle. John Mellencamp mentions James Dean in the lyrics of "Jack & Diane". Lana del Rey repeatedly stated that she was into "James Dean kind of guys" and devoted one of her most acclaimed songs "Blue Jeans" to a former boyfriend who reminded her of the actor. Phil Ochs has a song titled Jim Dean of Indiana. In Hunter Hayes's song Storyline, a line in the first verse says "we got a fast car, a James Dean spirit, and a Norma Jean heart". In addition, James Dean is often noted within television shows, films, books and novels. In an episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation, the character Liberty likens the rebellious, antisocial Sean Cameron to James Dean. On the sitcom Happy Days, Fonzie has a picture of Dean in his closet next to his mirror. A picture of Dean also appears on Rizzo's wall in the film Grease. On the American version of the TV series Queer as Folk, the main character Brian Kinney mentions James Dean together with Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix, saying, "They're all legends. They'll always be young, and they will always be beautiful". In the alternative history book Homeward Bound by Harry Turtledove, Dean is stated to have not died in a car crash and to have made several more films, including Rescuing Private Ranfall, based on Saving Private Ryan.
Dean's estate still earns about $5,000,000 per year, according to Forbes Magazine.
On April 20, 2010, a long "lost" live episode of the General Electric Theater called "The Dark, Dark Hours" featuring James Dean in a performance with Ronald Reagan was uncovered by NBC writer Wayne Federman while working on a Ronald Reagan television retrospective. The episode, originally broadcast December 12, 1954, drew international attention and highlights were featured on numerous national media outlets including: CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, and Good Morning America. It was later revealed that some footage from the episode was first featured in the 2005 documentary, James Dean: Forever Young.
Debated sexual orientation:
Today, Dean is often considered an icon because of his "experimental" take on life, which included his ambivalent sexuality. There have been several claims that Dean had sexual relationships with both men and women. When questioned about his sexual orientation, he is reported to have said, "No, I am not a homosexual. But I'm also not going to go through life with one hand tied behind my back."
William Bast, one of Dean's closest friends, was Dean's first biographer (1956). He published a revealing update of his first book, in which, after years of successfully dodging the question as to whether he and Dean were sexually involved, he finally stated that they experimented. In this second book, Bast describes the difficult circumstances of their involvement and also deals frankly with some of Dean's other reported gay relationships, notably the actor's friendship with Rogers Brackett, the influential producer of radio dramas who encouraged Dean in his career and provided him with useful professional contacts.
Robert Aldrich and Garry Wotherspoon include an entry on James Dean in their book on gay and lesbian history, while journalist Joe Hyams suggests that any gay activity Dean might have been involved in appears to have been strictly "for trade", as a means of advancing his career. Val Holley notes that, according to Hollywood biographer Lawrence J. Quirk, gay Hollywood columnist Mike Connolly "would put the make on the most prominent young actors, including Robert Francis, Guy Madison, Anthony Perkins, Nick Adams and James Dean." However, the "trade only" notion is debated by Bast and other Dean biographers. Aside from Bast's account of his own relationship with Dean, Dean's fellow biker and "Night Watch" member John Gilmore claims he and Dean "experimented" with gay acts on one occasion in New York, and it is difficult to see how Dean, then already in his twenties, would have viewed this as a "trade" means of advancing his career.
Screenwriter Gavin Lambert, himself gay and part of the Hollywood gay circles of the 1950s and 1960s, described Dean as being gay. Rebel director Nicholas Ray is on record as saying that Dean was gay. Author John Howlett believes that Dean was "certainly bisexual". George Perry's biography reduces these aspects of Dean's sexuality to "experimentation". Bast also shows that Dean had knowledge of gay bars and customs. However, he concludes: "Jimmy was a dabbler, he was learning through experiment... But to say he was gay? That's ridiculous."
See the Jaguar (1952),
The Immoralist (1954) - based on the book by André Gide,
The Metamorphosis (1952) - based on the short story by Franz Kafka,
The Scarecrow (1954),
Women of Trachis (1954) - translation by Ezra Pound,
Has Anybody Seen My Gal?
Youth at Soda Fountain
Trouble Along the Way
East of Eden
Golden Globe Special Achievement Award for Best Dramatic Actor, Jussi Award for Best Foreign Actor,
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actor,
Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actor
Rebel Without a Cause
Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actor
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actor
Episode: "Hill Number One: A Story of Faith and Inspiration"
The Bigelow Theatre
The Stu Erwin Show
Episode: "Jackie Knows All"
CBS Television Workshop
Segment: "Into the Valley"
Hallmark Hall of Fame
Episode: "Forgotten Children"
Episode: "Sleeping Dogs"
Kraft Television Theatre
Lux Video Theatre
The Kate Smith Hour
Episode: "The Hound of Heaven"
You Are There
Episode: "The Capture of Jesse James"
Treasury Men in Action
Tales of Tomorrow
Episode: "The Evil Within"
Westinghouse Studio One
The Big Story
Episode: "Rex Newman, Reporter for the Globe and News"
Episode: "Glory in the Flower"
Campbell Summer Soundstage
Armstrong Circle Theatre
Episode: "The Bells of Cockaigne"
Robert Montgomery Presents
The Philco Television Playhouse
Episode: "Run Like a Thief"
The United States Steel Hour
Episode: "The Thief"
Episode: "The Unlighted Road"
Episode: "Broadway Trust"
James Dean: Portrait of a Friend aka James Dean (1976) with Stephen McHattie as James Dean,
James Dean: The First American Teenager (1976), a television biography that includes interviews with Sal Mineo, Natalie Wood and Nicholas Ray.,
Sense Memories (PBS American Masters television biography) (2005),
Forever James Dean (1988), Warner Home Video (1995),
James Dean (fictionalized TV biographical film) (2001) with James Franco as James Dean,
James Dean - Kleiner Prinz, Little Bastard aka James Dean - Little Prince, Little Bastard, German television biography, includes interviews with William Bast, Marcus Winslow Jr, Robert Heller (2005),
James Dean: The Final Day features interviews with William Bast, Liz Sheridan and Maila Nurmi. Dean's bisexuality is openly discussed. Episode of Naked Hollywood television miniseries produced by The Oxford Film Company in association the BBC, aired in the US on the A&E Network, 1991.,
James Dean: Race with Destiny (1997) directed by Mardi Rustam, starring Casper Van Dien as James Dean.,
Living Famously: James Dean, Australian television biography includes interviews with Martin Landau, Betsy Palmer, William Bast, and Bob Hinkle (2003, 2006).,
James Dean - Mit Vollgas durchs Leben, Austrian television biography includes interviews with Rolf Weutherich and William Bast (2005).,
James Dean - Outside the Lines (2002), episode of Biography, US television documentary includes interviews with Rod Steiger, William Bast, and Martin Landau (2002).,
Two Friendly Ghosts (2012),
Life (2014). Directed by Anton Corbijn, starring Dane DeHaan as James Dean.