Adeline Mart Nall, James Dean’s Teacher

small dean logo     Updated August 11, 2010   URL is

There are two pages now for Adeline. They are this page and her funeral

Wonderful Adeline Mart Nall

A. Nall

As a general introduction to Adeline Nall, you need to know that she was James Dean’s teacher at Fairmount High School. She taught him several subjects, she coached him in public speaking and she worked with him on the school plays. She instilled confidence in James Dean that he could become an actor.

You may already have read about her funeral which took place November 19, 1996. She had turned 90 on August 5, 1996. Associated Press reported that she expected to be reunited with Jimmy in heaven, and that she planned to tease him about playing such a good role in Giant, as he had told her in high school that he wasn’t supposed to be cast in old man roles. He considered himself a juvenile actor at that time.

Adeline in Hollywood

Here is Adeline visiting Jimmy’s star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I expect she was there when the block was laid. I am not a total expert on Mrs. Nall. This picture is one of many in the Adeline Nall room at the James Dean Memorial Gallery in Fairmount.

At one time James Dean persuaded Adeline to act in some off-Broadway plays in New York, and she was in one of them when he was killed in 1955. She stayed active in the commemoration of his death each year. She had retired from Fairmount High School in 1972, after a teaching career of 37 years, including years in Chicago and in Grant County. She had also been a newspaper editor. Her education was in Marion, Indiana for high school and for college, with one year in Oxford, Ohio for speech and drama courses. She received her master’s in speech from Indiana University in 1953. She is survived by one son, David.

Photos of A. Nall

You can buy a terrific videotaped documentary of Adeline Nall, by Tom Berghuis of Michigan, available through him or through the James Dean Gallery. I believe it costs $19.99. This video is of Adeline Nall leading a tour through the old Fairmount High School. There is a great introduction by sportscaster and Fairmount native Phil Jones, a former student in Adeline’s classes. I’m so glad I bought mine.

It doesn’t show Nikky Bazooka giving her a scarf. He gave her one every year at the memorial service, each year in a different color of the rainbow. Her last scarf, in 1996, was orange. That was the last color; she had all seven.

You can, however, purchase a videotape of the memorial service for James Dean. Adeline was the main organizer each year.

All the newscasts about James Dean included interviews with Adeline Nall. She was a favorite of everyone from the moment they met her. Fans continued to visit her even after she moved to the Emily Flynn home in Marion, Indiana. That was as far from Fairmount as she would let herself be.

At the James Dean Memorial Gallery in Fairmount, at 425 South Main Street, you can see the section devoted to Adeline and even sit in her green upholstered armchair which she gave to the Gallery. (This chair was lost in a fire some years after I wrote this.) The staff there can answer every question you might have.


Adeline Nall is an icon in my life, for her influence on James Dean but also as a symbol of all teachers who affect the lives of their students. (Sandra Weinhardt)

headstoneAdeline Nall’s funeral


Credits: The photos above show 3.) a small display at the James Dean Gallery, with the scarves that Nicky Bazooka gave to Adeline each year. The scarves were a gift to David Loehr from the Nall family. 2. Taken at the James Dean Memorial Gallery, a photo of a photo of Mrs. Nall at Jimmy’s star. 1.) A photo that I call Adeline in Blue, from David Loehr. The headstone photo is courtesy of Magdalin Leonardo


The play reviewhas scenes with Adeline Nall. The play, James Dean: The Boy From Fairmount, by Harvey Cocks is a moving tribute to Jimmy. Mrs. Nall went to see the play as it was being developed and revised. She had input into each scene.

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This page is humbly offered and written by just a James Dean fan, Sandra Weinhardt, Please send all additions and corrections to me.