Hollywood legend James Dean was born in the small town of Marion, Indiana in 1931. He briefly moved with his parents to Santa Monica, California, but after Dean's mother passed away when he was nine years old, his father sent him to live with his aunt and uncle in the small town of Fairmount, Indiana. Ortense and Marcus Winslow raised a young James Dean in their Quaker household from age nine until he graduated high school.
Dean moved back out to California to attend school, but quickly transferred to UCLA where he switched his major to drama before dropping out entirely. He knew he would do whatever it took to become a star. After appearing in a Pepsi commercial, Dean started booking some smaller film roles including appearances in Sailor Beware and Has Anybody Seen My Gal? But he really made a name for himself after landing the role of Cal Trask in the film adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel, East of Eden.
He immediately followed that role with potentially his most beloved role, the angsty teen in a red leather jacket, Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause opposite Natalie Wood. Unfortunately, his next role in Giant would be his last. Dean passed away in a car crash near Cholame, California on September 30, 1955. Despite starring in just three major films, the name James Dean has become iconic over the years.
Dean became the first person in history to be nominated posthumously for an Oscar for his role in East of Eden. He was posthumously nominated again the following year for his role as Jett Rink in Giant. To date, he's the only person in history to be posthumously nominated for two Best Actor Academy Awards.
Following his death, Dean was buried in Park Cemetery in his boyhood home of Fairmount, which has since become famous for being the hometown of the Hollywood star. Visitors from all over the country come out to this small Midwest town to see where Dean came from and honor him at his headstone.
A day trip to Fairmount (located just over an hour outside of Indianapolis) is a must for James Dean fans. Visitors can stop by the Fairmount Historical Museum to see the largest collection of James Dean memorabilia from his personal estate. Fairmount is also the hometown of Jim Davis, the creator of the comic strip "Garfield," so there's plenty of that in the museum too.
The James Dean Gallery and Gift Shop is another great stop for memorabilia and the chance to see the full collection that James Dean archivist David Loehr has been compiling since the '70s. Plenty of people probably line up outside the gallery on North Main Street just to take photos with the Rebel Without a Cause statue.
The short documentary Deaners focuses on James Dean superfans who make the trek to Fairmount each year to remember their hero.
Every year, the town also holds the Remembering James Dean Festival the last weekend of September. There's a parade, a lookalike contest, classic car show, dance contest and more to honor their most famous former resident.
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