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, 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), and died in a car accident in 1955, at the age of 24. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for the latter two films.

James was the son of Mildred Marie (Wilson) and Winton Arlando Dean. He had English, German, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, and distant Dutch and French Huguenot, ancestry.

James’s paternal grandfather was Charles Desco Dean (the son of Calvin P. Dean and Arminta Alice Cree). Charles was born in Iowa. Calvin was the son of John Dean and Serena Tennell. Arminta was the daughter of Robert Hamilton Cree and Sarah Elizabeth Marshall.

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

James’s maternal grandfather was John William Wilson (the son of Levi Daries/Darius Wilson and Agnes Schmuck). John was born in 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.

James’s maternal grandmother was Minnie Mary/Mae Slaughter (the daughter of Isaac Slaughter and Sarah Margaret/Margrete Leisure). Minnie was born in Indiana. Isaac was the son of Jeremiah Slaughter and Sarah. James’s great-grandmother Sarah was the daughter of James or George W. Leisure and Mary Elizabeth Esler/Easte/Eastes.

Sources: Genealogies of James Dean – http://worldconnect.rootsweb.ancestry.com


Curious about ethnicity

15 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

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