by Jason Kovar
In the early 1950's, James Dean was heralded as the new heartthrob of women and rebellious idol of men. In America, he is considered to be the first and most glamorized rebel who invoked change in the postwar period. Actor Martin Sheen pays tribute to Dean for his role as a change agent:
"Jim Dean and Elvis were the spokesman for an entire generation. When I was in acting school in New York, years ago, there was a saying that if Marlon Brando changed the way people acted, then James dean changed the way people lived. He was the greatest actor who ever lived. He was simply a genius."
Almost overnight the effects of Dean's movies sent shock waves through the country as perceptions of what it meant to be cool were suddenly altered. "They wore what he wore," recalled Stewart Stern, scriptwriter for Rebel Without a Cause. "They walked as he walked. They played the parts they saw him play. They searched for answers they thought he was searching for. Some found a kinship they had never known before." Suddenly, teenagers underwent transformations of mind-blowing proportions. In emulation of his movies, jeans, T-shirts, leather jackets, hairstyles and fast cars all became the popular trends of the day. The new measuring stick for men's success' with the women depended on how close they came to Dean's heartthrob image. His posters and movie memorabilia plastered the walls of teenage girls who still longed for their knight in shining armor. Dean was successful in reshaping the image of what that 'knight' was supposed to represent. Randall Riese, author of The Unabridged James Dean surmises:
"Within a year after his death James Dean had arisen, Christlike, to become the biggest movie star in America, perhaps the world."
Time magazine said he was "the biggest news Hollywood has made." The renegade Dean was considered the epitome of power.
To this day Dean is still an icon of the rebel image. Psychic Kenny Kingston tells that his last stop before his fateful car crash continues as "a virtual shrine to the late star." Thousands of fans throughout the world continue to make the pilgrimage to observe the memorial and route that Dean took. Posters, paintings, and ongoing reference to him continue to bombard society with his image. Even up until present day it is commonly accepted that Dean has done more for the sale of jeans than anyone in history. More than 45 years after his death, James Dean is alive and well on Hollywood Boulevard, where his plastered image hovers over nearly every street corner. There is even talk about a movie biopic of his life that would star either Brad Pitt or Leo DiCaprio as Dean.
The effects of his messages served a major purpose of single-handedly causing a major rift between the youth of America and their parents, which was unheard of before the War. Twilight Zone's Rod Serling comments on Dean's effects as
"the postwar mystification of the young, the gradual erosion of confidence in...a whole litany of moral codes."
They desired rebellion, confrontation, and defiance of authority just for the sake of doing so. This attack of moral conventions was a subtle indoctrination of the youth that was a catalyst to the counterculture movement in the 1960's. As costar in Rebel Sal Mineo says, "Jimmy Dean started the whole youth movement."
Comedian, musician, composer, and writer Steve Allen's comments echo the shocking feelings Dean evoked in the youth.
"He was so real. My attention was riveted. He was speaking the language [of the hipster] so authentically, I couldn't believe he was an actor...I couldn't believe he was an actor! The result was electrifying."
Allen's reference to Dean's ability to act was not inherent, but resultant of occult powers that he sought after in order to influence society. Dean's aunt told of how even as a young man, he had contact with spirit entities. She said that he would have conversations with a tree and when questioned if the tree talked back:
"He wasn't talking to the tree or the roots, he said, laughing. I said 'Well who are you talking to?' He just looked at me with a clean face and said, 'My Mother.'"
James DeWeerd, a personal friend of Deans, said "he said he believed the ghost of his dead mother came to him."
Dean actively sought out spirits and spirit guides to help forge his path to success. Buelah Roth, another personal friend recalls a time when Dean wanted to get in touch with a dead actress named Sarah Bernhardt. Roth says:
"There was a hotel in Venice, California, where Sarah Bernhardt had stayed when she came here to perform...He [Jimmy] was thrilled. He said, 'Let's go to the hotel.' So, we go in and it's a fleabag hotel, a transients hotel, and no one there had heard of Sarah Bernhardt except for one old guy who said, 'Oh, yeah, I remember, that French actress.' And we said, "Do you remember the room?' And he said, 'Yeah I'll take you up there.' He took us up to this really horrible room. I guess in its day it was elegant. And Jimmy said, 'You go out of the room. I want to be here alone. I want Sarah Bernhardt to come to me.' And he said he lay on the bed where she had slept. And he really felt that he had made contact with Sarah Bernhardt."
These breakthrough experiences had an enormous effect on him, and even as Hitler had an occult knowledge of a destiny to fulfill, Dean was also likewise convinced. When asked about his assured confidence as a future moviestar, Dean knowingly uttered:
"[A spirit name]... I gotta be faithful to her. It's predestined that I'm going to make it and that I'm going to make it like Marlon did, and I'm going to be a star."
And as Hitler believed that he could tempt death and triumph because of his destiny, so did Dean. John Gilmore, Dean's close friend and lover recalls one of these occasions:
"The guy behind us started to race, too. All of a sudden there was a terrible noise behind us. We stopped and saw that the guy had run his car off the road and up the side of the mountain. There was a small fire. He and the girl got out, and we went back to inspect-to see if they were hurt...Jimmy said, 'You can't do the things I'm doing. I can flirt with death and come through-you can't.'"
Dean's desire to obtain superstar status increased his ever-growing search into spirits and the occult for success and empowerment. Dean sought out Eartha Kitt, whom he referred to as a 'devil,' because of her supernatural abilities as a performer. John Gilmore tells of Dean's desire to tap into these esoteric powers:
"He sensed moments in Eartha's performances when it seemed to him that everything she knew was fused directly into the moment, even things having nothing to do with her performing, he thought translated directly into one energy force-a magic connection." He says: "Jimmy was convinced that Eartha had 'special powers' and knowledge she could deliver to him by some kind of osmosis..."
He acknowledged these powers as "voodoo trips."
Dean's quest to make it to the top landed him a part in Elia Kazan's East of Eden. Due to Kazan's mogul image as the premier director of the day, Gilmore reflects: "There was no young, serious actor at that time who wouldn't have sold his soul to Satan to star in an Elia Kazan film." (G147) Not coincidentally, Dean had also publicly stated: "I have a fairly adequate knowledge of Satanic forces." (AZ366)
Dean did cavort with the popular Satanist filmmakers of his day. Gilmore recalls:
"Samson's [Debriar] house was a museum of pirated movie relics and antique set decorations, and he usually held an 'open house,' a kind of revolving party. Kenneth Anger's film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, had been filmed in the house, with DeBrier, Anais Nin, and experimental filmmaker Curtis Harrington playing parts, and Jimmy was eager to meet and talk to Samson. He knew about Harrington's experimental films; we'd talked about Fragment of Seeking. Jimmy was hoping to meet Harrington as well." G189
Dean boastfully told Hedda Hopper "I had studied The Golden Bough and de Sade." (Shooting93) Aleister Crowley writes in his 960-page autobiography, The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, that: "Not in vain had I been studying The Golden Bough...and...In writing this book, I was much assisted by Frazer's Golden Bough." Crowley placed Frazer's writings in his camp in regard to Christianity, which delve deep into Crowley's form of Magick. According to Crowley, Frazer agreed that Christianity was "historically false, morally infamous, politically contemptible and socially pestilential." Regarding Dean's study of de Sade - he was one of the wickedest homosexual serial killers in history. Another of Dean's favorite writers was a man by the name of Oscar Wilde. Oscar Wilde was an occultic homosexual playwright whom Aleister Crowley paid no small token of admiration to throughout his writings. Long term girlfriend Dizzy Sheridan insightfully relates: "The things he read were sort of a personification of himself."
Dean's acting abilities have for decades been lauded as elite performances. However, demonic powers were behind the mask of persuasive emotion that rendered his viewers completely in his power. Barney Hoskins, of James Dean Shooting Star says,
"There is something a little mad, a little possessed, (emphasis his) about James Dean. Each of his three major films conjures up a self-absorbed, hobgoblin kind of intensity."
Close friend and twice co-star Dennis Hopper reflects: "He was totally transformed when the camera began to roll. He suddenly was the character...Strange things were coming out of him." Dean's instruction to Hopper for achieving these spirit world performances was simply to "leave yourself open." This was because Dean believed that another entity would inhabit him when he was acting. He described it as
"sort of two people in the same skin...telescoping back from he other...the person inside would seem to drift up to the surface of the skin."
The true ability of Dean to effect people lay not in his own ability but in the demonic spirits who used Dean as a puppet. In East of Eden, Dean is a young man who desires the love and affection of his father. The father is portrayed as out of touch with reality, strict, and religious. This dichotomy presents the youth as being simply beyond their parents in their understanding of reality. The parents are displayed as ignorant and the movie sets up separatist relationship as a result of the father's inability to grasp the needs of his son. This helped to foster the growing divide between the youth and their parents in the 1960's. Daily Variety wrote: "Massey is fine as the religious father who finds it difficult to understand the need his neurotic son has for affection." The Hollywood Reporter printed of East:
"He is that rare young thing, a young actor who is a great actor and the troubled eloquence with which he puts over the problems of the misunderstood youth may lead to his being accepted by young audiences as a sort of symbol for their generation."
All of Dean's movies deal with an empathetic rebellious hostility toward convention. Acclaimed film director Francois Truffaut wrote of East of Eden:
"James Dean has succeeded in giving commercial viability to a film [East of Eden] which would otherwise scarcely have qualified, in breathing life into an abstraction, in interesting a vast audience in moral problems treated in an unusual way...His powers of seduction-one has only to hear an audience react when Raymond Massey refuses the money, which is his love-are such that he can kill his father and mother on the screen nightly with the full blessing of both art-house and popular audiences." And, "Each gesture, each attitude, each mime is a slap in the face of tradition."
Interestingly, the 1950's have gone on record as the decade when the youth sought lives independent of their parents and traditional Christian values. John Gilmore recalls director Elia Kazan's admittance to the power the film held:
"'I believed this picture could have the power to reach directly into the psychological heart of the viewer.' Perhaps, too, it manipulated the audience in the same way that Kazan manipulated Dean, stirring in many that sense of rebellion against the father. 'Getting even with him,' was what Jimmy said about the role he played."
Kazan fueled the film with a character ready to lead revolt. Kazan said of Dean: "He really was Cal...He had an instinct to disturb." Dean knew he was swaying the youth worldwide and disturbing the family bond with onscreen messages. Dean knew the influential power these films had over the world, stating:
"But after a while I started learning what so many actors have learned-about that certain communicative power we have that so few people are privileged to have. We find that we can reach not only the people with whom we work on the soundstages here in Hollywood but people all over the world." (Val Holley 232)
His co-star Julie Harris said of him:
"You see, he was mercurial, unpredictable, always putting you on, which I didn't mind because he was very beguiling...he did manipulate people and he knew he was doing it."
Kazan reported his manipulations as so influential that women in the audience "began to scream as soon as Dean appeared on the screen." They found the movie "spellbinding" and according to various reports "went crazy."
Rebel Without A Cause is by far the most popular and subversive of the Dean films. In Rebel, Dean is a misunderstood insubordinate youth who wins over the viewer with a raw sense of sensitivity and individualistic rebellion. The message that rebellion is acceptable against the traditional and outdated authority figures in society is all too obvious. Rebel scriptwriter Stewart Stern acknowledges his attempt to weaken the respectability of authority figures:
"Much of the writing and directing of the parents was exaggerated and heavily biased...The poetic truth of the relationships among the young people was constantly being undermined by the way the parents were made to behave."
Stern also conspired: "We wanted to make our parents over in some magical way." Dean fully embraced the themes that were sent through his movie acting as a part of himself. He said: "A neurotic person has the necessity to express himself and my neuroticism manifests itself in the dramatic. Why do most actors act? To express the fantasies in which they have involved themselves." A friend confessed that Dean "had a grudge against all fathers, he was vengeful." Through the Rebel film, Dean had said that he "wanted the kids to come and see the picture," and spoke of "reaching them on their own grounds." That being the latent desire to revolt against authority to ultimately adopt a 'Do what thou wilt' lifestyle.
Jim Backus, Dean's father in the movie compares Rebel to poison:
"We started out making a routine program picture, black and white. A picture about teenage kids. I thought sort of an Ozzie and Harriet-with venom."
Dean's movies were his sermons, and he knew they were getting through to his fans. Gilmore says of Dean's intent of acting:
"His whole being was put into motion by his involvement onstage. There, his energies worked for him and it felt good to command attention and experience power and a sense of manipulation. 'The whole place could be in my hand,' Jimmy said. 'In my personal control, everyone out there, the people and the others on stage with me-it's like I was the sun in a universe. I could be giving life to all of it.'"
Dean's brand of manipulative "personal control" promoted alcohol and introduced the then unheard of marijuana as early as 1953's showing of Glory in the Flower. In it Dean, the token rebellious youth, lives a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol while screaming at authority, "I'm not going to take orders from you!" Always looking 'cool,' this was cutting edge glamour for the youth of 1953.
Al Pacino speaks of Rebel's influence: "Actually, the person I related to was James Dean. I grew up with the Dean thing. Rebel Without a Cause had a very powerful effect on me." Actor Casper Van Dien states:
"He defined your generation. He defined my generation. He defined it all. If you look at him, there's no way you could say he didn't impact your life in some way. He started Generation X. It started every generation. All the bad boys. It brought out different levels."
Dean's ability to entice the youth against their parents was insidiously accomplished. Alan Richins of L.A. Law emphatically proclaims:
"I wanted to be an actor when I was in the seventh grade and saw Rebel Without a Cause. There was this guy, James Dean, yelling at his father. And I thought, that's great. I thought that was absolutely stunning because I had a lot of anger toward my father and no way to express it."
Eartha Kitt, Dean's guru acknowledges: "He gave out electronic waves. Who could tune into those waves?...That's what his impact was. And many more tuned in on it than we can imagine." Dean was aware that he had the power to manipulate and change his viewers because as an actor he had access to the very center of their being. As Betty Davis says: "The real actor-like an artist-has a direct line to the collective heart."
In the justice system, an accomplice to a crime is punishable by law, because it is considered a violation. Films, however, take people on a journey of morally compromising situations where a person can walk away violating all kinds of spiritual laws in their hearts. This serves to numb the conscience and ripen one for further evils. In 1964, almost ten years after Dean's death, two teenage sadly girls took their own lives. In their suicide note to their parents they wrote: "This was the anniversary of the day Jimmy died..." and, that their lives were now "too unbearable to live without him." Altogether an untold number of suicides have been committed in his name.
When spoken of about God, Dean said: "There was no God-there was only art, only the composer, the creator of the symphony." He stole the fear of God from people's hearts not only through his movies but also through statements such as: "No matter what they say, there isn't any heaven. There's no hell either." He ragged Christianity as "those destructive influences of beliefs based on torture and blood and crucifixion." Instead he radiated the philosophies of Satanism en toto, proclaiming: "I believe in freedom, not God."
This acceptance of the occult and adherence to satanic philosophy left him a depraved shell of a person. Dean had a surmounting attraction to death and dying. Gilmore relates Dean's fetish with the macabre:
"He talked about being hanged-about suffocation-and was trying to imagine being guillotined, and whether the eyes fluttered with any last second sight. Jimmy's talk of death, dying, and dismemberment wasn't as exciting or interesting to me as it was to him. It was never morose, though, and at times tended to become almost ecstatic...the image of his mothers coffin was indelibly etched in his mind-the idea of dwelling in caskets in general obsessed him..."
This was the overnight star who was the envy of everyone in Hollywood.
As a result of his occultism, Dean was plagued by demonic entities. Gilmore relates one such occasion: "He wanted to stay at my place that night because he said he felt haunted. It was like a voice was talking to him at the back of his neck." Dean called this haunting his "black mariah." Once, when seeing a picture of a deathly grotesque skull, he recognized his mariah and showed remarkable familiarity: "That's him, the old [expletive]-the one who's been riding my butt...Look at the [expletive]-he's got nothing in his eye sockets." Although occult powers granted his success he still was miserable and depressed. Friend Beverly Wills explains:
"These low moods became so violent that that he began to tell me that he was having strange nightmares in which he dreamed he was dying. I soon learned that it was nothing for Jimmy to run through a whole alphabet of emotions in one evening. His moods of happiness were by now far outweighed by his moods of deep despair."
When asked why he was so fascinated with death he replied: "That's the only way I'll have any peace." Satan cuts no deals.
From a heavenly perspective, Dean's life and films fly in the face of a loving Creator. Compared to the eternal aspects of God, the best and most outstanding elements of Dean's character and movies appear as rotten refuse. In fact, Elia Kazan said of him, "I got to know him, and he was an absolutely rotten person." If you are a Christian, you are commanded to think on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and of good repute. Protect your mind. Satan's desire is to seduce you out of God's will for your life through his elusive schemes. The Scriptures say that we are not ignorant of his schemes. They are powerful and without Jesus and his protective hedge, we will be annihilated. In 1951, the Daily Variety made these sobering remarks about one of Dean's powerfully riveting performances: "that film is mightier than books or Bibles in penetrating the consciousness of Christian people." The Scriptures clearly warn: "Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God."
If you do not have a personal relationship with Christ, Satan wants you to continue to be manipulated and duped into compliant complacency with his plan for you. He is the Ultimate Rebel, but he does have a cause, and that cause is you spending an eternity with him, where the worm never dies and the flame is never quenched. In God's economy, rebellion always leads to destruction. The world even acknowledges that those who reject what is right will perish. Nicholas Ray, Dean's producer, commented on Dean as "a boy with a rage within who is at the stage of rebellion which can lead him to disaster." Do not follow Satan's plan for conformation to a world that is headed full speed for God's judgement and disaster. Jesus said "Not My will, but Thy will be done." Humble yourself before God and accept Him, His plan, and His will for your life.
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