Rare 1955 James Dean Signed "Sweetheart Ball" Ticket

Sold For: $1,896

Auction Year: 2012 spring

Lot: 1463

Item Year: 1955

Category: Marilyn Monroe/Hollywood/Movies

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"Sweetheart Ball" admission ticket, signed on the reverse by James Dean (1931-1955), American film actor and cultural icon. In February 1955, James Dean returned to his hometown of Fairmount, Indiana, for a famous photo shot that later appeared in LIFE magazine. While in town, he was a special guest at the "Sweetheart Ball," held on February 12th at Fairmount High School, where just a few years earlier Dean made his stage debut in the school's production of Mooncalf Mugford . As could be expected, Dean was inundated with autograph requests while attending the ball, with most students asking him to sign the only thing they had handy: their admission tickets. Offered here is one such ticket signed by Dean during his last appearance in his home town. Dean has inscribed the ticket in blue ink, "To/Mike/my best/James Dean." While Dean's inscription and signature are both boldly penned, grading "9," the dark green background offers less-than-ideal contrast. The front of the ticket bears the printed text: "Sweetheart Ball/8:00 P.M. to 11:00 P.M., February 12/Bob Winslow's Orchestra/$1.00 per couple - Semi-Formal." Incredibly, the ticket is accompanied by what appears to be a double-sided photo (possibly from a yearbook), showing two different images of Dean at the ball signing one of these very tickets for a student! Dean had just finished production on his first major film, East of Eden , in February 1955. That same year he completed filming of Rebel Without a Cause and Giant before being killed in a car accident on September 30th. Dean was only twenty-four years old at the time of his death, but his three indelible performances on screen, particularly that of the brooding Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause , quickly made him a cultural icon. His early passing is also responsible for the extreme rarity of his signature, which remains one of the most highly prized (and most commonly forged) examples in the field of entertainment autographs. This is only the second James Dean signed item we have ever handled, and given its provenance and documented history, one of the finest imaginable. The ticket (3.5 x 2.25 inches) is in apparent Near Mint condition, and has been matted and framed together with the double-sided photo of Dean. Ideally, the piece has been framed with glass on each side, so that the front and reverse of both the ticket and photograph can be viewed in their entirety. Total dimensions: 12 x 13 inches. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $500. Estimate $2,000+. SOLD FOR $1,896

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