‘Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.’ James Byron Dean
The famous actor James Dean would have had a birthday this past week on February 8th. If James were still alive, he would have been 80 years old . . . hard to imagine the ‘rebel’ at that age because he has been forever immortalized as the handsome twenty-something of the 1950s.
The Professor and I live about 45 minutes south of where James Byron Dean was born, raised and ultimately buried far too soon. Fairmount, like much of central Indiana, is flat farm country with miles and miles of cornfields and soybeans in the summer. His family moved to California when James was 6 but when his mother died of cancer 3 years later, James’ father sent him back to Fairmount to be raised by an aunt and uncle. The kicker is that The Professor is actually James Dean’s 4th Cousin…. no joke. Their great-great grandfathers were brothers and there is even some resemblance in The Professor’s father and Great Uncle to the famous Dean.
We took these pictures of James Dean’s grave site last summer and are always amazed at the number of fans that visit – younger generations including visitors from around the world have made the trek to the tiny cemetery flanked by miles and miles of farmland. Some kiss the monument, some leave trinkets and still others will write a name or note on a nearby stone . . . I wonder how many times that stone has been painted over since his death in 1955.
And since we’ll be watching the Oscars in a few weeks, here’s a bit of trivia from Wikipedia:
James Dean was 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 Dean the 18th best male movie star on their AFI’s 100 Years…100 Stars list.
Happy Birthday, Cousin!
The two photos of the house were taken at the James Dean Gallery and Museum, in Fairmount, Indiana.