James Dean's Biography
James Byron Dean was born on 8 February 1931 in Marion, Indiana.
James Dean died on 30 September 1955 in a car crash.
James Dean started acting at UCLA, and then he moved to New York and joined the Actors Studio. Before starring in East of Eden, James Dean had appeared extensively in television. He also had a few small parts in Hollywood films and won a prize for his portrayal of an Arab in a Broadway adaptation of Gide's The Immoralist.
James Dean's three main acting roles were in East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant. To some extent he plays a very similar character in all of them. A broody, internal personality, good-natured but with a rebellious outlook on authority. James Dean will be forever the icon of rebellion.
East of Eden, directed by Elia Kazan, is a masterpiece. James Dean appears almost throughout the whole film and his performance is thoroughly absorbing.
It was for his role in East of Eden that James Dean became the first actor to be nominated posthumously for the Best Actor Oscar.
Gilbert Adair described James Dean's star quality in The Post-Modernist Always Rings Twice:
"A star may possess talent but, given the absolute consistency of image that is his gift to the screen, he ultimately does not need it ... James Dean was not necessarily a more talented actor than the other struggling unknowns one watches alongside him [in his TV roles]. But he alone was already, if as yet obscurely, a star."
James Dean died tragically young at the height of his talent. Just 24 years old the actor was driving his Porsche sports car when it was involved in a head-on collision with another car 30 miles east of Paso Robles whilst on his way to a car race meeting at Salinas.
The official James Dean site has not just biographical details of James Dean but also an interesting copy of an autobiography by James Dean, entitled "My Case Study" to Roland Dubois, written when he was at Fairmount High School in 1948.
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