James Dean’s New York City apartment


What’s better than a piece about classic Hollywood Icons and their old pads?

The bull horns and matador cape were of special meaning to Dean.  He had read the novel Matador by Barnaby Conrad, and for a while was obsessed with dramatizing it as an internal monologue without words, using just a few props.  Dean also loved to play his bongo drum along to jazz records late into the night.   He hung with a small, close-knit circle of actor/artist friends.  Among them was a young Martin Landau.


At first New York overwhelmed me,” said James Dean. “I was so confused that I strayed only a couple of blocks from my hotel off Times Square, to go to the movies.”

He was twenty in October 1951, and he had spent all but five years of his life in rural Indiana. The only child of a shotgun wedding, the myopic, shy farm boy had come East to pursue his fortunes as an actor. Idolizing the disaffected sensuality of Marlon Brando and struck by the moody ambiguity of Montgomery Clift, Dean longed to transform his worship of those stars into an inheritance of their fame. But all his agent could obtain for him was a temporary job as a rehearsal assistant for the television game show Beat the Clock, for which he tested the zany stunts planned for prospective contestants.


James Dean’s first appearance onscreen, 1952.

Until 1953 Dean was often difficult to locate: He rented a dozen hotel rooms in midtown, none of them for more than a few weeks at a time. There was, he thought, good reason to be elusive, for his private life was often unconventional and messy. At last he settled into a cheap fifth-floor walk-up at 19 West 68th Street, a tiny chamber with space only for a daybed, a built-in desk and a hot plate; there was no kitchen, and the common bath was down the hallway. Guests invariably found his room cluttered with empty beer bottles, half-eaten cans of food, unsleeved records and dog-eared books.



Link to story on James dean’s NY apartment


  1. Pretty cool although im not much of a James Dean fan (but he was a decent actor)
    I like being able to get a idea of what a home looked like back in the 40’s. I would like to go back and live wayback then so much nicer. No major constent tv You had good radio programs ,lower cost of many things, gas was cheap and the cars where better. You could drive and listen to your favorite shows.People were a bit more decent and no yo yo you on my turff fool and yo respect bs. People were real.

  2. I have an old picture sleeve 78 record called James Dean Plays Bongos. He plays with Bob Romeo and Duke Mitchell. They play and talk on the record. I have had it for over 40 years and I have never head of or read anything about it. You can hear James Dean talking about how he is starting to shoot his new movie Giant the next day and how he has an early call the next day. It is on Romeo Records, has a picture of James Dean on the cover, price was $1.29. Has anyone ever heard of it?
    Thanks Steve

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