Dean’s best-remembered relationship was with young Italian actress Pier Angeli, whom he met while Angeli was shooting The Silver Chalice (released in 1955) on an adjoining Warner lot, and with whom he exchanged items of jewelry as love tokens. Angeli, during an interview fourteen years after their relationship ended, described their times together: “We used to go together to the California coast and stay there secretly in a cottage on a beach far away from prying eyes. We’d spend much of our time on the beach, sitting there or fooling around, just like college kids. We would talk about ourselves and our problems, about the movies and acting, about life and life after death. We had a complete understanding of each other. We were like Romeo and Juliet, together and inseparable. Sometimes on the beach we loved each other so much we just wanted to walk together into the sea holding hands because we knew then that we would always be together.”
According to Kirk Douglas’ autobiography, he and Angeli were engaged in the 1950s after meeting on the set of the film The Story of Three Loves (1953). Angeli then also had a brief romantic relationship with James Dean. She broke it off because her mother was not happy with their relationship as he was not Catholic.
James Dean really did love Pier Angeli. He called her Annarella like Cinderella. Pier Angeli’s father called her Annarella when she was growing up in Italy. He later said that she was the only woman he ever really loved.
Dean died in a car accident in 1955 at the age of 24. In 1971, at the age of 39, Angeli was found dead of an accidental barbiturate overdose at her home in Beverly Hills.
These beautiful pictures that captured James Dean with his girlfriend Italian actress Pier Angeli during their brief relationship in the mid-1950s.