Memories of “Rebel Without A Cause” And James Dean

Rebel without a Cause
Jack Grinnage played the character of Moose, in “Rebel Without a Cause“. These are his memories of working with James Dean.

I bought some stamps the other day, Legends of Hollywood. They were James Dean stamps. It said ” in a brief but brilliant career, the actor James Dean (1931-1955) spoke for millions of American teenagers as the misunderstood youth in “East of Eden” and “Rebel Without a Cause”. His stature grew mythic after he died in a car crash. Shortly before his final film, “Giant” was completed.

I met Jimmy Dean the day we tested, the test was to see how we photographed with Jimmy. I had just seen “East of Eden” and was so overwhelmed by his performance i could hardly speak. A couple of years ago Warner Bros. Found those test and gave us all a copy. Jimmy looks at me I look at him, we both look away. I’m amazed I was cast in the film. About a week before Rebel was to start, we all met at the Chateau Marmont in Nick Rays bungalow for a read through of the script.

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So many things have been written about Mr. Dean over the years. Some truths and a lot of untruths. I remember a very vital person that was interested in the process of film making. A dedicated actor, that was totally involved in his craft. When i watched him work, i was amazed at his depth of concentration. He loved to joke and play pranks on everyone. He observed everything about all of us. And when we weren’t looking. He would mimic are actions. I read an article that said jimmy directed “rebel without cause”. Wrong nick ray was the director and he directed rebel with a strong hand. He knew how to handle his actors, to get the best performances. I remember one day.

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When we were still  filming in black and white. I think it was the first day. He said to natalie .what do you have on. Her hips and bust were padded. To give her more curves. Nick made the wardrobe women take the padding off. Nick wanted us to be real teenagers . Not perfect hollywood types. We felt we were a gang. We even went out at night cruising the streets. After the film was finished, beverly long and i ran into jimmy at hamburger hamlet. We talked about what was going to happen when the film opened. Rebel previewed in Westwood.

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Jimmy attended, he was still working on giant, and his hair line had been shaved to portray the thinning hair of the older chet rink. The audience went crazy. Jimmy was 24 years old, learning who he was, and what was in store for him. What memories I have working on Rebel.

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When I worked in King Creole with Elvis Presley. Elvis had seen Rebel and wanted to know how Jimmy worked. He ask the same questions everyone has ask, what was Jimmy Dean really like? My answer, he was a very talented dedicated performer, who was learning the craft of film making. When i see a silver porsche drive by today i always thing of james dean.