Wow! Am I fucked up

On April 8th of 1954, less than two years before his untimely death at the age of 24, promising young actor James Dean left New York and headed for Los Angeles in order to prepare for his first starring role in a Hollywood movie, as Cal Trask in East of Eden. The change of scene was unwelcome and, just a few weeks after arriving and clearly homesick, Dean wrote the following anguished letter to on-off girlfriend, Barbara Glenn.

East of Eden was released in March of 1955, six months before Dean’s tragic car crash; his leading performance as Cal Trask resulted in a posthumous Oscar nomination — the first of its kind — at the 1956 Academy Awards.

Transcript follows. Huge thanks to Abigail for supplying the scan.

Recommended reading: James Dean: At Speed.




Dearest Barbara

I don’t like it here. I don’t like people here. I like it home (N.Y.) and I like you and I want to see you. Must I always be miserable? I try so hard to make people reject me. Why? I don’t want to write this letter. It would be better to remain silent. “Wow! Am I fucked up”

Got here on a Thurs. went to the desert on Sat., weeks latter to San Francisco. I DONT KNOW WHERE I AM. Rented a car for 2 weeks it cost me $138.00. I WANT TO DIE. I have told [Redacted] and 5 others like her to kiss my ass and what stench, spineless, stupid prostitutes they were. I HAVENT BEEN TO BED WITH NO BODY. And won’t untill after the picture and I am home safe in N.Y.C. (snuggly little town that it is) sounds unbelievable but it’s the truth I swear. So hold everything, stop breathing, stop the town all of N.Y.C. untill (should have trumpets here) James Dean returns.

Wow! Am I fucked up. I got no motorcycle I got no girl. HONEY, shit writting in capitals doesn’t seem to help either. Haven’t found a place to live yet, still living with my father–HONEY. Kazan sent me out here to get a tan. Haven’t seen the sun yet. (fog & smog) Wanted me healthy looking. I look like a prune. Don’t run away from home at too early an age or you’ll half to take vitamins the rest of your life. Wish you cooked. I’ll be home soon. Write me please. I’m sad most of the time. Awful lonely too isn’t it. (I hope youre dying) BECAUSE I AM.


Jim {Brando Clift} Dean

My address is (fathers that is) is
1667 So. Bundy Drive
L.A. 25, Calif.