Celebrities Raise Funds For James Dean Arts Center

Mickey Rooney, Pat Boone and Shannen Doherty helped kick off a fundraising campaign Thursday to restore an Indiana high school that will become the James Dean Performing Arts Center and Museum.

The celebrities gathered at the posh Spago restaurant to announce the campaign. Officials hope to collect $6 million to renovate Fairmount High School in Fairmount, Ind., where Dean was first exposed to acting.

“Our mission is to create a living tribute to the Rebel Without a Cause, and in the process preserve a beautiful and important building,” Boone said in a statement.

Among the improvements will be refurbishing the original stage, auditorium and classrooms as well as creating an exhibit of Dean memorabilia.

Dean made only a handful of movies before he was killed when the silver Porsche Spyder he was driving collided with another vehicle near rural Cholame, Calif., on Sept. 30, 1955. He was 24 years old.

The high school has been empty for about 20 years, said Cal Oren, a spokesman for the nonprofit Fairmount Foundation, which is overseeing the fundraising effort.

Some minor work has been done to the building, but millions of dollars will have to be raised in order for the new venue to be opened.

“We think this is an appropriate tribute to James Dean,” Oren said.

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