They say the charm and angst that Hollywood actor James Byron Dean (1931-1955) portrayed in film was how he actually was off-screen. Born on this day in Marion, Indiana, this icon of pop culture only completed three movies at the time of his death, East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant.
Only East of Eden, based on James Steinbeck's masterpiece, had been released. Dean's portrayal of Caleb, the black sheep brother, won him raves from Steinbeck and an Oscar nomination.
"The gratification comes in the doing, not in the results," Dean once said.
Leather jacket, blue jeans, and cigarette dangling from his lips, in Rebel Without a Cause, Dean was so cool and intense. Lonely, brooding, badder than Brando, misunderstood by his parents and society, he raged, "You're tearing me apart."
Dean was banned by producers from racing his new Porsche 550 Spyder during the filming of his third and last movie, Giant. The day after he finished shooting, he jumped into his Porsche, customized with racing stripes and the words LITTLE BASTARD painted across the tail end, and headed for a Salinas race track. He never made it. He hit another car, then wrapped the Porsche around a telegraph pole and died instantly.
The myth began and James Dean transcended into immortality. Co-star Natalie Wood said, "All of us where touched by Jimmy, and he was touched by greatness." Dean's greatness touched another legend, Elvis Presley.
According to Dean biographer John Parker, Presley became obsessed with Dean, viewed Rebel Without a Cause 44 times, and knew the dialogue by heart.
Make your actions immortal.