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Firefighters Believe They’ve Found James Dean’s Original Gravestone

May 21, 1987 GMT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) _ The pink granite tombstone of actor James Dean was found behind a fire station four years after it was stolen from the actor’s grave 60 miles northeast of here, firefighters said.

″We were excited. We’re movie buffs and enjoy his movies,″ firefighter Gary Wymer, who found the gravestone Sunday morning near a garbage bin, said Wednesday.

The gravestone’s chipped inscription reads: ″James B. Dean 1931-1955,″ Wymer said. Each of the bottom corners of the stone contains a flower, and there are decorative lines at the top and bottom of the stone.

Members of Dean’s family and curators of the James Dean Museum in Fairmount are expected in Fort Wayne to inspect the marker. ″We had given up any hope of getting it back,″ said Marylou Winslow, wife of Dean’s first cousin, Mark.

The original marker was placed in Fairmount’s Park Cemetery on Oct. 8, 1955, eight days after Dean’s Porsche was struck head-on on a California highway just two days after completing work on the movie ″Giant.″

Many fans who visited the grave chipped off pieces of the granite. Then, in April 1983, the gravestone disappeared. It was found three weeks later, sitting on a tree stump beside a nearby road.

The gravestone was put back in the cemetery, but was stolen three weeks later and had not resurfaced. It was replaced during a ceremony on Sept. 30, 1985.