Friday, June 5, 2009

James Dean Comes West for "East"

James Dean, East of Eden (C) Warner Bros.
James Dean started his acting career in Los Angeles, but after struggling for roles in Hollywood, he took the advice of his mentor, radio director, Roger Bracket and moved to New York City. While in New York, Dean would land roles in several episodes of various television series which then led to him being accepted in to the legendary Actors Studio, an acting school led be Lee Strasberg. Dean's acting skills began to blossom and the young actor was starting to make a name for himself in New York. Soon Hollywood would be calling him back West.
Director, Elia Kazan was casting his film East of Eden and was looking for an actor who could play the character of the young, emotional Cal. Marlon Brando, another Actors Studio alumni, was first considered for the part. Paul Newman also did a screen test for the role. Ultimately, Dean would win the part.

Formerly the Olive Drug Store, Now part of Warner Bros. Studios
Kazan arranged for James Dean to move from New York City out to California to start work on East of Eden. Hoping to create a brotherly relationship between his two young actors who would be playing on-screen brothers, Kazan found a one bedroom apartment located above what was then the Olive Drug Store on Olive Avenue in Burbank, for Dean and his Eden co-star, Richard Davalos to share. At this time, the Olive Drug Store was located across the street from Warner Bros. Today, the Olive Drug Store business no longer exists. The building is now part of the Warner Bros. lot and is building #5. Above and below are photos of the building as it appears today from the side facing Olive Avenue.

Building #5 on the Warner Bros. Lot, Burbank, CA
While Dean lived above the Olive Drug Store he did not necessarily develop the brotherly relationship with Davalos that Kazan was hoping for. Dean often did his own thing. Sometimes Dean would join his other co-star, Burl Ives, and the two would go to the nearby Smoke House restaurant or Bob's Big Boy (both still operating today) for lunch or dinner.


View of Building #5 from inside the Warner Bros. lot, Burbank, CA
Dean started getting into too much mischief while living in the apartment above the Olive Drug Store so Kazan, in order to keep an eye on his troublesome actor, had Dean moved out and arranged for the two of them to share a living space inside one of the bungalows on the Warner Bros. lot. Kazan and Dean continued to live in the bungalow on the WB lot during the rest of the East of Eden production. Story goes that Dean continued to live in the bungalow even after production wrapped and was eventually forced out when word made it's way up to the top Warner brass that he was living on lot.

If you take a tour of the Warner Bros. studio this is not one of the areas of the lot you will get to see. However, you can easily see building #5 when driving along the outside of the studio along Olive Ave.
Your thoughts?

6 comments:

Lolita said...

My thoughts: I melting by that James Dean photo... Drool bucket, please!

zencat said...

I never knew this! Thank you.

rex "steveo" mojo said...

I remember the Olive drug store, and going in there in the early 70's...it was pretty much the same as it had been for years...it had
an old fashioned fountain counter
where you could sit and face toward
the street...(although I dont think there were any windows you could see out by sitting there...and of course they carried make-up, over the counter
stuff, etc...I'm sorry it's gone, it was pretty cool...
Steveo

rex "steveo" mojo said...

I remember the Olive drug store, and going in there in the early 70's...it was pretty much the same as it had been for years...it had
an old fashioned fountain counter
where you could sit and face toward
the street...(although I dont think there were any windows you could see out by sitting there...and of course they carried make-up, over the counter
stuff, etc...I'm sorry it's gone, it was pretty cool...
Steveo

rex "steveo" mojo said...

I remember this drug store .it was still in oeration in the eraly 70s, and was not part of wb, but was accross the island...
It was a cool old drug store, with a fountain where you could sit
and have a coke...
Steveo

Adam Delgado said...

Any idea what bungalow he lived in??

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