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August 5, 2021

James Dean Photographed by Wilson Millar For His First Film ‘Hill Number One’ (1951)

Before conquered Hollywood, James Dean toiled in New York television. Hill Number One was an hour-long Easter special sponsored by the Family Rosary Crusade - the story of Jesus after the crucifixion, when he was buried in the tomb and then was risen.

It’s talky, stiffly staged, and very earnest. Dean has a small role, about four lines of dialogue, and he’s wildly miscast as the serene and pious John the Baptist.

These photos derive from a private sitting in the spring of 1951, when James Dean was making his first film Hill Number One in an installment of Family Theater. Dean was taken by Hollywood-based photographer Wilson Millar, when he was a struggling actor-student at UCLA.


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