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Full Details for Lot 1543

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Sale 38 Lot 1543

JAMES DEAN(1931 - 1955) American film actor and handsome screen idol, Dean portrayed an anguished teenager and made only three films before his death in a car wreck at the age of 24. Rare T.L.S. "James Dean", 1p., 8vo., Hollywood, CA., June 11, 1955, on personal letterhead regarding his Academy Award nominated role as Cal in the film East of Eden, with the original transmittal envelope with Dean's name and address imprinted on the flap. In part: "...Thanks so much for your letter and its generous praise. 'East of Eden' was, I think, an unusual and sensitive motion picture. Playing Cal was gratifying, and praise such as yours makes me feel that it was a worthwhile undertaking. Thanks again, and all the best in life to you...". In 1953, director Elia Kazan was looking for an actor to play the role of "Cal Trask" in screenwriter Paul Osborn's adaptation of John Steinbeck's 1952 novel East of Eden. The book is the story of the Trask and Hamilton families over the course of three generations, focusing especially on the lives of the latter two generations in Salinas Valley, California in the mid-1800s through the 1910s. However, the film chose to deal predominantly with the character of Cal Trask, the rebel son of a pious, and constantly disapproving, father (played by Raymond Massey), and estranged mother, whom Cal discovers is a successful, brothel-keeping madam (Jo Van Fleet). Elia Kazan said of Cal before casting "I wanted a Brando for the role". Osborn suggested to Kazan that he instead consider Dean for the part. After introducing Dean to Steinbeck, and gaining his enthusiastic approval, Kazan set about putting the wheels in motion to cast the relatively unknown young actor in the role. On March 8, 1954, Dean left New York City and headed for Los Angeles to begin shooting. Much of Dean's performance in the film is completely unscripted, such as his dance in the bean field and his curling up and pulling his arms inside of his shirt on top of the train during his ride home from meeting his mother. The most famous improvisation during the film was when Cal's father rejects his gift of $5,000 in reparation for his father's business loss: instead of running away from his father as the script called for, Dean instinctively ran to Massey and desperately embraced him. This cut and Massey's surprised reaction were kept in the film by Kazan. He received a posthumous Academy Award nomination for this role, the first posthumous acting nomination in Academy Awards history. Written just three months before Dean's death at age 24, and a very rare example. Auction records of the past 25 years do not show a single Dean letter having been sold. Very good.
Estimate $ 2,000-3,000

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