ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

James Dean, Fairmount, Indiana: Star Trekking

Updated on October 8, 2014
DVD cover of James Dean: The First American Teenager (1975)
DVD cover of James Dean: The First American Teenager (1975)
Magazines from around the world and other items on display at the extensive James Dean Gallery
Magazines from around the world and other items on display at the extensive James Dean Gallery | Source
A flashy custom vintage car at a previous James Dean Run
A flashy custom vintage car at a previous James Dean Run | Source

Road Trips to Hollywood Across America

The story seemed to recede unusually quickly but you may be aware of it. When Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor passed on recently, a journalist revealed something that Taylor wished to have kept secret until after her death. She related that while filming the motion picture Giant, actor James Dean - the embodiment of youthful angst, male sensitivity, and unwillingness to accept the standards of a stitched-up society (not to mention being a leading icon of American cool for not only his own 1950's generation but for all the time that has followed him so far) - told her that, at age 11, he began to be molested by his minister.

I asked David Loehr, curator of the popular James Dean Gallery in Fairmount, Indiana - where Dean grew up - what seemed to be the consensus of feeling among the town's residents about Taylor's revelation. "It just seems to happen a lot," he said, "when somebody's gone, they say things about them and they're not here to defend themselves...There wasn't any huge emotion about it." Now that is a laid back community.

And it is a community that James Dean apparently embraced as is reflected in a recollection from actress Carroll Baker, another Giant co-star and a fellow student with Dean at the Actors Studio. In her autobiography Baby Doll, Baker described a motorcycle ride she once took with her arms tightened around Dean's waist as they flew through the just-awakening, drowsy lots of Warner Brothers studios early one morning in 1955:

"The bike slowed...We were entering the back lot and approaching the replica of a small American town...When I released Jimmy, he swung off the bike and sauntered up the empty street to a white frame house...It even had a picket fence...

'Gee, this is nice,' I murmured...I was transported to all the other times, from my seat in a dark movie house, that I had lived on this same street.

'I must have seen this street in a hundred movies,' I whispered.

'Yeah, it's nice. Kinda reminds me of home,' he said..."


Most of us have probably seen streets "in a hundred movies" like the one that reminded James Dean of home; and while I can't put you on a motorcycle with him, I can direct you to the actual streets he was homesick for in Fairmount, Indiana. [All the events mentioned in this article are from the 2012 celebration. Check with the links below for the September 2015 schedule.] The 37th annual James Dean Festival is our final stop of the year in the Road Trips to Hollywood Across America: Star Trekking series.

The word "tragic" could easily be applied to some major events in James Dean's life. Losing his loving playmate of a mother to cancer when he was just 9 years old then having his father bow out and give over James' upbringing to relatives could certainly be called "tragic." The unverified molestation and, of course, the horrific, heavily documented car crash that slammed his life to a close at the age of 24 - in the same year as that motorbike ride with Carroll Baker - things don't get much more tragic than that.

But the town of Fairmount has no time for the "tragic" label. The community is too busy with the exuberance of inviting the world to share its pride in celebrating the cinematic idol who was reared in their farmlands, schools and streets. Even Dean's gravestone, within a mile or so from the center of town, seems less tragic when covered with the scarlet lipstick lip prints that fans are so fond of kissing onto it.

The James Dean Festival is divided into two components of attractions. The Annual Museum Days of the Fairmount Historical Museum pay tribute to Dean in a variety of entertaining ways. The party kicks off when the streets of Fairmount are closed off at 8AM on Friday, September 28 and a series of events and activities for people of all ages overflows the town all weekend. Among the highlights are music, trivia, a grand parade, pet parade, swap meet and contests, including a 50's dance contest and a lasso contest. Remember Dean's knock-out lasso scene in Giant (1956)? If not, you can view free screenings of that film and the only other 2 movies he ever starred in, East of Eden (1955) and Rebel Without a Cause (1955). (Could it be that an actor received two Best Actor Oscar nominations when he starred in only three films? Yes, Dean did.) His famously appealing face, style and form were uber-photographed so, naturally, there is a look-alike contest. There is even a contest for amazing kiddie James Dean look-alikes.

The other festival component is the Annual James Dean Run - a show in Playacres Park celebrating the Dean mystique through the splendor of fabulous 50's cars. There will be preliminaries starting in the early evening of Thursday, September 27, then during the course of the long weekend, there will be exhibitions and judgings including a Parade of Neon - flashing the cars' glowing neon trim - and a flame throwing contest! (Even if you care little about cars you've got to want to see long tongues of flame licking out of the tailpipes, don't you?)

The dates of his young life: February 8, 1931 to September 30, 1955. On September 30, 2012, there will be church services in Fairmount, Indiana to memorialize James Byron Dean.

He starred in only 3 movies but this ground-breaking actor appeared on New York stages and in a long list of classic television series such as Omnibus, Studio One in Hollywood, and Kraft Theatre. It may come as a surprise to know that Dean also showed talent and craft as a visual artist (but almost nothing about the singular James Dean could really be a big surprise, could it?).

LOOK at the three artworks at the end of this article. Which do you think is the work of James Dean? Click on a number to find out if you are right. Choose here: #1 Matador ~ #2 Curtain Sky ~ #3 Cats and Dogs.

Check the links below for more information on the annual James Dean Festival and year round Indiana attractions centering on the homegrown cultural idol's legacy. Because of Dean (and a little bit because of the self-assured comic strip cat Garfield who was created by Jim Davis, another Grant County native), the whole of Fairmount, Indiana's Grant County claims to have a reputation for being, "the coolest destination in the Midwest." No doubt, it's true.

Fairmount Historical Museum

James Dean Gallery

Grant County Visitors Info

Matador
Matador
Curtain Sky
Curtain Sky
Cats and Dogs
Cats and Dogs

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Trilby Greene 

      5 years ago

      Ah, a wonderful reminder of the bad-boy icon who made a huge impression in his tragically short life. (Tragic, yes, but a great tribute to his accomplishments. And Carroll Baker's story here--as well as the well-chosen picture that still has the power to make women swoon--gives readers a glimpse into the thrill of time spent with James Dean.) I just may plan to attend next year's festival!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)