Deanne F. Purcell
Kenneth Kendall was born November 27, 1921, in Los Angeles, California. I never met Kenneth in person, or spoke to him by phone. A former fan club president gave me his address and I met Kenneth via mail correspondence - Christmas cards and my letter of sympathy upon his brother's death. I lost a brother when I was 11, so I could empathize with his loss.
Kenneth was an artist and sculptor, and sometimes worked as an extra in movies. He met James Dean in January 1955 when the actor dropped by Kendall's studio. James Dean admired Kenneth's sculpture of Marlon Brando and haltingly asked him if he would be interested in doing a sculpture of him, James Dean. Impressed by the shy, sometimes sullen, sometimes angry, enigmatic young actor, and flattered, Kendall agreed, but before he could do the sculpture, James Dean was killed in a car accident.
Grieving, Kenneth created his sculpture, a bronze bust of James Dean, for Park Cemetery in Fairmont, the young actor's final resting place. When this sculpture was stolen, Kenneth created another for the James Dean Memorial Park in Fairmount, Indiana.
Over the years, Kendall painted over 100 oil canvases of Dean, many of which he had reproduced on postcards, which he frequently sent to Dean fans, including myself. He wanted to keep alive the memory of James Dean. He wrote to me that he was thrilled that I visited Fairmount and met others who had known James Dean, and had my poems and short stories published in small presses and fan magazines. He inspired me to always be proud I was a 1950s teenager, and an avid fan of James Dean.
Kenneth, I will always cherish your memory in my heart. Your easel and paint brushes may be silent, but not your legacy as a sensitive and true artist. Your works remain with us and speak for you.
Copyright October 3, 2006 By Deanne F. Purcell
For more information about Kenneth Kendall's life and works, click on links below:
Kenneth Kendall's life and works
James Dean Sculptures & Paintings by Kenneth Kendall
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