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His parents were of mostly English ancestry, with smaller amounts of Scottish, German, Irish and Welsh.Six years after his father had left farming to become a dental technician, Dean and his family moved to Santa Monica, California.
His overall performance in school was exceptional and he was also considered to be a popular student.There he worked as a stunt tester for the game show Beat the Clock, but was subsequently fired for allegedly performing the tasks too quickly.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. I am one of the youngest to belong." There, he was classmates and close friends with Carroll Baker, with whom he would eventually star in Giant (1956).Proud of this accomplishment, Dean referred to the Studio in a 1952 letter to his family as "The greatest school of the theater. Dean's career picked up and he performed in further episodes of such early 1950s television shows as Kraft Television Theatre, Robert Montgomery Presents, The United States Steel Hour, Danger, and General Electric Theater.He is a cultural icon of teenage disillusionment and social estrangement, 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 premature death in a car crash cemented his legendary status.
the son of Winton Dean (January 17, 1907 – February 21, 1995) and Mildred Marie Wilson (September 15, 1910 – July 14, 1940).
He 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, 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.
In October 1951, following the encouragement of actor James Whitmore and the advice of his mentor Rogers Brackett, Dean moved to New York City.