James Dean's short life is now known perhaps more in legend and lore than solid fact, but even he had a secret no one knew. Except for Elizabeth Taylor.
Kevin Sessums, writing for The Daily Beast, reveals that in a wide ranging interview with the just passed Taylor, the famed actress let him in on a secret about Dean that she had promised she'd keep forever. Sworn to secrecy until Taylor's death, Sessums revealed the hidden past of the Rebel Without a Cause.
"When Jimmy was 11 and his mother passed away, he began to be molested by his minister," Taylor said. "I think that haunted him the rest of his life. In fact, I know it did. We talked about it a lot. During 'Giant' we'd stay up nights and talk and talk, and that was one of the things he confessed to me."
Taylor and Dean co-starred in Giant, a 1956 film for which Dean was posthumously nominated for an Academy Award.
After Dean's mother died in 1940, he was sent back from California, where his family had relocated, to Indiana to live with his grandparents. He was sent back on the same train as his mother's body. Known for his young rebel roles, Dean was cast as -- and was in real life -- a confused, somewhat angry and abandoned young man.
Dean was known to have a chip on his shoulder against fathers, thanks in part to never reconciling with his own -- whether the minister story, if true, has anything to do with that, is perhaps unknowable.
While he never married, he had a short-lived public relationship with Italian actress Pier Angeli. Best friend, roommate and biographer William Bast claims to have had a sexually intimate relationship with Dean, as well.
For much more from Sessums' interview with Taylor, click over to The Daily Beast.