James Dean

publicity still of James Dean for ”Rebel Without a Cause,” c. 1955, Warner Bros., in-house publicity still

Birth Name: James Byron Dean

Date of Birth: February 8, 1931

Place of Birth: Marion, Indiana, U.S.

Date of Death: September 30, 1955

Place of Death: Cholame, San Luis Obispo, California, U.S.

Ethnicity: English, German, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, distant Dutch and French Huguenot

James Dean was an American actor. Considered a cultural icon, he appeared in three major film roles, Rebel Without a Cause (1955), East of Eden (1955), and Giant (1956). He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for the latter two films. He died in a car accident at the age of 24.

James was the son of Mildred Marie (Wilson) and Winton A. Dean.

James’s paternal grandfather was Charles Desco Dean (the son of Calvin P. Dean and Arminta Alice Cree). Charles was born in Grant County, Indiana. Calvin was the son of John Dean and Serena Tennell. Arminta was the daughter of Robert H. Cree and Sarah E. Marshall.

James’s paternal grandmother was Emma Woollen (the daughter of Edward Woollen and Adeline Smithson). Emma was born in Fairmont, Grant, Indiana. Edward was the son of William Robinson Woollen and Julia Ann Oldfield. Adeline was the daughter of David Smithson and Betty Williams.

James’s maternal grandfather was John William Wilson (the son of Levi Daries Wilson and Agnes Schmuck). John was born in Liberty Township, Grant, Indiana. Levi was the son of Alfred R. Wilson and Eliza Delilah Felton. Agnes was the daughter of Eli Schmuck and Margaret Felton. Levi and Agnes were first cousins, once removed, through their ancestors William Felton and Margaret Mansfield. Margaret’s father was likely born in County Tyrone, Ireland.

James’s maternal grandmother was Minnie Mary Slaughter (the daughter of Isaac Slaughter and Sarah M. Leisure). James’s grandmother Minnie was born in Madison County, Indiana. Isaac was the son of Jeremiah Slaughter and Sarah. James’s great-grandmother Sarah was the daughter of George W. Leisure and Mary E. Esler, whose father was German.

Sources: Genealogies of James Dean – http://www.geni.com


Curious about ethnicity

16 Responses

  1. AutisticApe says:

    He’s likely has a small amount of French ancestry from his maternal great grandmother, who’s last name was Leisure. According to his Wikitree genealogy, Leisure can be traced back to French Huguenots.
    Her is his 5th great grandfather, Joseph Leisure: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/LeSueur-15

  2. 500miles says:

    An addition from David Dalton’s book “James Dean: The Mutant King”:

    “Winton and Mildred Dean were both native Indianans–Mildred (nee Wilson) from a Methodist family that Jimmy said was part Indian, and Winton a Quaker from a line of original settlers that could be traced back to the Mayflower.”

    You can read the biography here: http://goo.gl/GUZ6k

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.