Personal Handwritten Letters From JAMES DEAN to BARBARA GLENN To Be Sold at Auction A selection of personal handwritten letters by James Dean, which have never been offered for sale before, are to be sold at Christie‟s auction of Popular Culture: Film and Entertainment Memorabi
for himself on television and Broadway. As he rehearsed for an adaptation of André Gide's book The Immoralist – a performance that would be his last on Broadway and lead to several awards and calls from Hollywood – Dean wrote to Barbara Glenn. In the letter he criticizes the play, calling it “a piece of shit”, but rightly foresees that it would still “Probably be a monster success”. The letter was sent from St. James Hotel in Philadelphia on 10th January 1954 illustrated above left (estimate: £5,000-6,000) and also features doodles of North African style buildings – possibly Dean‟s interpretation of the set, which was based in Tunisia. Positive reviews for his role as „Bachir‟, a pandering North African houseboy, led to Dean‟s early exit from the play (which had only opened two weeks earlier on 8 February 1954) and a move to Los Angeles.
James Dean‟s first starring role in a Hollywood movie was as Cal Trask in East of Eden, for which filming began on 8th April 1954. East of Eden was released in March 1955, only six months before Dean‟s tragic car crash, earning him the first official posthumous Oscar nomination in history at the 1956 Academy Awards. The second letter on offer dates from 7th May 1954 illustrated above centre (estimate: £3,000-4,000) – just under a month into the filming for East of Eden. In the letter, addressed “Oh baby”, Dean angrily replies to a letter sent by Barbara about a swimsuit photo-shoot she had done, or was considering, telling her “boy that‟s sellin out cheap” and questioning her motives. The tone of his writing is very protective and caring, but also incredibly disapproving. One can only imagine what was contained in the letter from Barbara that he was replying to. The final letter to be sold in November illustrated above right (estimate: £5,000-6,000) reveals James Dean‟s teasing sense of humour, as it starts “Darling, I haven‟t written because I have fallen in love.” Reading that first line, it appears to be a break-up letter, however, it transpires that he is referring to his horse, „Cisco the kid‟ – “the new member of the family”, and he even proudly included a small photo of him (also included in the lot). Unhappy and homesick, Dean‟s mood sounds rather despondent – he talks about how lonely he is, tells her how much he hates it there, and lists all the things he misses. He also thanks her for “the nicest, sweetest letters in the world”, which helped him get over his own self-doubt, clearly showing the value in their friendship.
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High resolution images and further information available upon request
Notes to Editors:
Public Viewing: Saturday 19 November: 11.00am - 5.00pm
Sunday 20 November: 11.00am - 5.00pm
Monday 21 November: 9.00am - 7.30pm
Tuesday 22 November: 9.00am – 5.00pm
Auction: Popular Culture: Film and Entertainment Memorabilia
Wednesday, 23 November 2011 at 12.00pm
Ecatalogue: Available online from mid-October 2011 at www.christies.com/calendar
Christie’s South Kensington