James Dean's "Lucky Charm" Watch to be Auctioned by Heritage In their upcoming Music and Entertainment Signature auction, to be held on April 5 and 6, Heritage will offer the lucky charm to which James Dean attributed his success - Dean's lucky watch
News-Antique.com - Jan 26,2008 - Heritage to Offer Screen-Worn Watch from East of Eden
DALLAS, TEXAS: In their upcoming Music and Entertainment Signature auction, to be held on April 5 and 6, Heritage will offer the lucky charm to which James Dean attributed his success. Dean's lucky watch is one of the most important personal artifacts of James Dean left in existence, and we can only conclude that the bidding will be energetic.
The gold-filled pocket watch was manufactured by Standard Watch Co., which appears on the porcelain dial, with an Elgin movement (serial number 3071580). The back of the watch is detailed in a machined spiral pattern, with no markings or engraving. The cover bears James Dean's engraved initials.
When Dean made his debut starring appearance on the movie screens of America in East of Eden he insisted on wearing his lucky pocket watch. Dean purchased the watch in late 1951, as a struggling young actor in New York. It was his first big purchase and he was proud of it - he had his initials engraved on the gold cover of the watch, and carried it in his pocket for luck while working in TV and plays. Within two and a half years Dean was spotted and called to Hollywood to meet the author of East of Eden , John Steinbeck. Upon Dean's arrival in Los Angeles, he visited his estranged father. Afraid his son would lose his lucky watch, his father gave him his own gold watch chain. Dean wore the watch, hanging from a belt loop, throughout the filming of East of Eden despite director Elia Kazan's protests. Not only did Dean attribute his success to the watch, but it also linked him to his father. His insistence would finally cause Kazan to relent and allow him to wear the watch, though he held firm that Dean's engraved initials be covered in close-ups. Dean's performance in the film would earn him his first of two posthumous Academy Award nominations and two Golden Globes.
His lucky watch had worked; Dean was now a star. Dean gifted his lucky watch before his fatal car crash to a woman named Tillie Starriet. Dean had bonded with Tillie from the beginning of his movie career in L.A. Tillie, a Warner Bros employee, was older than Dean and acted as surrogate mother for the young 23 year-old actor and was the only person Dean would allow to prepare his hair for East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause. Her letter attests to their closeness including last seeing him the day Dean was killed.
Other young actors capitalized on Dean's rebel image, further pushing groundswell of rebellion that boiled over from the '50s into the '60s. No one could have known then the extent to which this unique young man's persona would affect the progression of our modern culture. As John Lennon said: "Without James Dean, the Beatles would have never existed."
It is well known that a dress worn by Marilyn Monroe fetched over $1.2