Sunday, February 8, 2009
Happy Birthday, James Dean
James Byron Dean (February 8, 1931 - September 30, 1955) was an American actor, born in Marion, Indiana and raised in Fairmount, Indiana. Dean began his career on the New York stage, and did several episodes of such early-1950s episodic television progams such as Kraft Television Theater, Danger, and General Electric Theater. His rave reviews in Andre Gide's The Immoralist led to his being called to Hollywood and film stardom.
He appeared in several uncredited bit roles in such forgettable films as Sailor Beware, but finally gained recognition and success in 1955 in his first starring role, that of Cal Trask in East of Eden, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. He followed this up in rapid succession with two more starring roles, in Rebel Without a Cause, also in 1955, and in the 1956 production of Giant, for which he was also nominated for an Academy Award.
Dean died in a road accident in a Porsche Spyder 356, before Giant was released. He is buried in Park Cemetery in his home town of Fairmount. He is one of only five people to be nominated for Best Actor for his first feature role, and the only person to be nominated twice after his death.
Dean epitomized the rebellion of 1950s teens, especially in his role in Rebel Without a Cause. Many teenagers of the time modeled themselves after him, and his death cast a pall on many members of his generation. His very brief career, violent death and highly publicized funeral transformed James Dean into a cult object of apparently timeless fascination.
James Dean is interred in the Park Cemetery, Fairmount, Indiana.