California Newspaper Gifts James Dean Fans With East of Eden Photos

Fifty-two shots in all, circa Spreckels, Calif. 1954.

Exactly 60 years ago, East of Eden was released in movie theaters.

Part of the Elia Kazan film was shot in Spreckels, just south of Salinas, Calif., and today, local daily newspaper The Salinas Californian is celebrating the results of a painstaking restoration effort: 52 rare black and white photos from that portion of the film’s production. The name of the photographer who took the pictures is at this stage still unknown. From today’s write-up by features editor Joe Truskot:

The images, most measuring two-and-a-half by four inches, were a result of a salvage effort. Some were printed on contact sheets, cut up and pasted on note cards perhaps displayed in the past and then filed away for years. Someone had even used a pinking shears to separate a couple of them. Most of the glue had dried up years ago. Imperfections on the prints are numerous — but they are unique and, most likely, unpublished. Kudos to Jim Albanese and Dave Nordstrand, the caring reporters who recognized their value and kept the photos safe.

Several of the pictures show a wagon load of coal headed by a team of horses. The local star who is holding the reins in all the photos is uncredited in the movie. He is the cowboy and rodeo star Marvin Roberts, who with his wife taught several generations of Salinas natives to ride horses. His son Monty Roberts is The New York Times best selling author of The Horse Whisperer.

The photos – some of which do not feature Dean – are priced, very affordably, for purchase from the Gannett newspaper via Earlier this year, aforementioned reporter Nordstrand had a fun look back at the filming of East of Eden in Spreckels. Among the people he spoke to was 94-year-old Nick Cominos, whose family owned and operated Hotel Cominos in Salinas, where some of the Eden cast and crew stayed:

Cominos was far from star struck by what he saw on one of the East of Eden sets. His family’s hotel hosted many celebrities. They’d stop to dine or to stay over on their drive from San Francisco to Hollywood or vice versa. Those luminaries included Charlie Chaplin, John Payne of Miracle on 34th Street and James Cagney.

 Poster image courtesy: Warner Bros.