The 1998 Memorial Service

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1998 James Dean Memorial Service

Yellow roses dedicated to the memory of Adeline Nall.

If you haven’t attended a James Dean memorial service, you’ll want to read 1997’s extensive story about it

This year’s service again was graced with beautiful weather. The church and hallway were full. Here are some of the people involved this year.

Tom Burghuis   At the beginning of the service, Tom Burghuis spoke of visiting Adeline’s grave on his way down from Michigan that morning, and as he stood there, the sun broke though the gray overcast sky. He said "she is with us."

Bob Pulley   Bob Pulley spoke next. He said he is often asked what Jimmy was like. Jimmy was normal. He emphasized that, normal, normal. He told of going to Marion with Jimmy. A man asked for Jimmy’s autograph, took it and tore it to bits in front of Jimmy. Jimmy didn’t react. Bob was very impressed with that, as are we all.

Bill Lane with Kazu shimizu    Next, Bill Lane and Kazu read a speech Kazu Shimizu had written. Kazu feared we would not understand him, so he had Bill read each paragraph after Kazu spoke it. I think we would have understood Kazu just fine, but Bill’s delivery was charming too.

They dedicated their speech to our friend Kathy who could not make the trip this year for health reasons. We all want Kathy to feel better soon.

Kazu said that because of James Dean, "the world will become one." We can meet James. We can rest there in love and peace. Kazu said he now has a friend and family here. In Fairmount, we can make friends and be reunited with them. Fairmount was the first place Kazu came to in America. It’s his reason in living, and he has come to testify to this. "It’s a great life; long live James."

Kazu is back for his third visit, I believe. It is wrenching when we all have to part late at night after the memorial service.

Christine White   Christine White was the main speaker this year. She lives in Washington, D.C. now, and publishes a political newsletter. She has written a book titled "The Disconnected" which goes into what she said at this service, in more detail.

Christine had been a typist for Jimmy’s agent, Jane Deacy. She and Jimmy became friends through that connection. She said she felt honored to be speaking from the pulpit in Back Creek Friends Church where Jimmy gave his first public reading. He had talked to her at length about Indiana, about Marcus and Markie, Winton, and about the honesty he expected from his friends "because I’m from Indiana." Christine told of spending endless hours sitting on the Iroquois Hotel fire escape with Jimmy, talking and dreaming of their acting careers. He would throw his beer bottles into the alley below. He wasn’t fixated on sex, rather upon love. "We were looking for out futures and our destinies." Jimmy wanted to succeed and not have a guru and not lose his soul. He sought a supernatural road. He didn’t want to gain the whole world and lose his soul; he really cared about that issue and used that quotation.

At one time Christine had an appointment with Nick Ray, and Jimmy brought her a white plastic cross and said "Here it is. This is the truth." Authors have always cut that out when writing about their interviews with Christine.

They wrote two scenes together to use in their Actors’ Studio audition. Jimmy became petrified with fear, but he found some beer and got his courage up. There were 100 people at the audition. Without his glasses, Jimmy couldn’t see the stage and began in the wing. With Eliz Kazan, you do or die. Jimmy and Christine had 5 minutes to make their impression. Their scene ran 14 minutes and they weren’t stopped by the timekeeper. They made the finals, 12 people, and of those 12, they were the only two accepted into the class. (Don’t trust my notes completely here. I may be mistaken.)

Christine said that Dr. Sheets may be in the audience. (He’s head of the National Hurricane Center, and a Fairmount High grad.) There was a hurricane in the scene they used in the audition.

Christine had a point to make with her speech, and she made it well. Again, the emphasis is on Dean being very much interested in girls, as women were called in those days. She said the world finds it easier to think of Dean as a myth. The boy **we** knew has vanished in the world view. "Where’s home tonight," she would ask him when he had no clothes and no place to sleep in New York. "We believed; we were the blue-jean generation and would have power."

On the streets of New York, they would challenge each other to perform street theatre, to overcome their fears. Jimmy would flag down cabs using his sweater like a matador, saying "toro, toro" instead of "taxi!" As a matter of fact, his famous black sweater was a gift to him from Chrisine. Jimmy was back in California, and asked her to mail him some of his things. She bought the sweater on a whim when she was mailing his boots and records that he had left behind in New York. When he thanked her for the sweater, he said "maybe I’ll wear it to my funeral." He is wearing it in his postage stamp portrait.

Something new that hasn’t been written about, Christine told us, is a vision she received in 1978. It was a flash of James Dean. Christine said "I knew Jimmy was a citizen of heaven. That means he’s not in hell as the books infer. "Im here" he was telling her, "and I’d not be here if those stories were true." Christine emphasized that in her book, Jimmy will do the talking and call the shots.

After this moving speech, we needed silence in which to meditate, and Tom gave it to us. He related a story of going to California to visit James Dean sites, then heading up into Washington State to visit the Northern Exposure sets. The bar in that series, named The Brick, had a Marilyn Monroe picture on the ladies room door and James Dean on the mens room door. Unfortunately, the real Brick doesn’t have Jimmy on the door.

Mattie Sellers   The etiquette of taking photos in a church constricted my angles. Mattie beautifully played the organ for us again this year. The picture doesn’t do her justice, so see her at the piano in the fellowship hall in July.

soloist Christina Dulworth   Soloist Christina Dulworth sang a different song this year. She was superb.

Phil Ziegler   Phil Ziegler spoke briefly this year. He said the flowers in the church were a gift from playwrite Jim Curran, class of ’49, who will come to Fairmount on October 16. Phil said Jimmy’s talent is a gift from God. He read a poem comparing Jimmy to a tune-swept fiddle-string that feels the master melody and snaps.

Phil noted that when he went to California in June of ’98, for the first time since 1954, he went up to Cholame. He vows he will never go again. He went 800 yards north to the monument from Mr. Onnichi, which is shockingly defaced. The letter "S" has been stolen, as well as the "8" from his birthdate, and medals set in logs around the base have been damaged. "Some idiot scratched his name into the shining metal."

Kenneth Kendall   "When Rimbaud dies, Gide said "he’s gone, but he’ll be back." I think Jimmy never left us." Then Kenneth told of meeting Jimmy for the first and only time, at his studio in Los Angeles. When Jimmy asked Kenneth if he would consider doing a sculpture of him, Kenneth told him to get a life mask made. It was in Jimmy’s apartment when he died. Winton finally let Kenneth make a rubber mold of it. It then became the basis for the sculpture at Griffith Observatory and in the local James Dean memorial park here in Fairmount. Kenneth started the sculpture the night after he learned that Jimmy had died. David Loehr has a copy of Kenneth’s Dean life mask, as do Princeton, the Fairmount Histoical Society, the Smithsonian and the Players Club in New York.

Two new items I learned from Kenneth this year are that James was wearing two enameled Triumph motorcycle pins on his black leather jacket that night at Kenneths, and that the parting smile Jimmy gave Kenneth was never captured on camera. It was a smile that inspired all of Kenneth Kendall’s James Dean work. Which of your paintings show that special smile, Mr. Kendall?

Tom Burghuis   Tom Burghuis has inherited the position of moderator of the memorial service. Tom read a new poem, "On Dreams" by Lance Stell who is in California. Tom had tears in his eyes reading the lines about Adeline, "how she trained the dream." The poem makes many references to Dean’s youth in Fairmount.

Tom related that when he made his video of Adeline Nall giving a tour of the old Fairmount High School, she asked him to please notify Frederic Forrest, who endowed Adeline’s James Dean memorial fund scholarship. DeForest was in "Falling Down" and in "Apocalypse Now." He was nominated for best supporting actor when he played the chauffeur in "The Rose."

Mr. Forrest acknowledged James Dean as the inspiration for his acting career. He graduated in 1955 from Waxahatchie High School in Texas, and identified so strongly with East of Eden that he became an actor and went to New York to follow in Dean’s footsteps. He said Dean’s inner light was so bright and so powerful that it transcended acting; it set the standard for all the art of acting. He thanked Adeline Nall and said how much he misses her.

Pamela Des Barres   Pamela DesBarres had to cut her speech short, to catch a plane home, for her son’s birthday. Her son is named Nicholas Dean DesBarres. She told us that Jimmy died when she was only eight years old. She’d like to live in Fairmount, as so many of us would. Pamela is collaborating, (on a screenplay I believe,) with Toni Lee Scott who knew Dean. Toni said that Jimmy and Natalie Wood were rehearsing possible lines to use in Rebel. Dean wanted to say "sometimes I think I’ll never live to see my next birthday." The line wasn’t used in Rebel.

Nikky Bazooka   Nikky Bazooka closed the service with a tribute to Adeline Nall and the invitation to follow him to the cemetery.

Marcus Winslow   Marcus Winslow outside the church, before the service. He seems to be holding a gift. Mysterious.

musiciansI need to know the names of these two musicians. The gentleman played the cello and the lady played the piano. It was classical music, so I have no clue as to what it was.

Bob Pulley and Jennifer from Illinois   Bob Pulley also spoke at the service this year. Here he visits with Jennifer from southern Illinois. She was supposed to be in class but couldn’t bear to stay away this day, so she drove all the way up to Fairmount.

Heidi Goodpaster   Outside the church, Heidi Goodpaster enjoys the sunshine. Heidi has been the hostess to Marcel and his mother, Laura Pardini, for the last two years. I think she may go back to Uruguay with them! Now we’ll all have a place to visit in Uruguay.

fellowship hall

For two hours before the service, Back Creek Friends held an open house in the new fellowship hall. They fed us with homemade cake and cookies, vegetables and dips, crackers and beverages. It was a fine welcome; we hope it becomes a tradition. I hope everyone left a green thank-you in the basket after the service. It would be fine to send a check to the church now.

If you missed finding the plate as you left the service, or if you weren’t able to be here this year, you can send a donation to

Kenneth Small

Back Creek Friends Treasurer

2520 East 750 South

Fairmount IN 46928

The telephone there is (765) 948-5640. There is an answering machine too.

Mattie told us that the church’s excellent sound system was a 1996 gift from Jim Curran, a Dean fan from Massachusetts.

Next year and every year, the James Dean memorial service is held on September 30th, 1:00 p.m. at Back Creek Friends Church on the outskirts of Fairmount, Indiana.

Now let’s look at the first of two pages of photos from the graveside ceremonies

If you have not been to a James Dean memorial service, you will want to read 1997’s extensive story about it The photos are much better this year, but this reporting was better written last year.

Here’s the index for the 1998 James Dean Festival,

Image Map

This is part of the huge Contents of DEANERS e-zine