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Because his career was ended prematurely by his September 1955
death in an automobile accident, James Dean appeared in only seven films
(playing uncredited roles in four of them). Despite the brevity of his career however, Dean received two Academy Award nominations
as Best Actor and became an icon of rebellion for American teens, not only
of the 1950s, but for generations since as well.
After playing a series of bit parts, Dean landed his first major film
role in EAST OF EDEN
(1955) opposite Julie Harris, Raymond Massey and Burl Ives. Directed by Elia
Kazan, this film adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel features Dean
as Cal Trask, a son competing with his brother Aron for the love of their
father Adam. Dean's performance in EAST OF EDEN would eventually earn him
an Academy Award nomination as Best Actor, one of the record two posthumous
Oscar nominations he received. And because EAST OF EDEN was the only one
of Dean's three starring films released before his death, it was really the only
film by which American audiences knew him when his fatal car accident made
headlines in early October 1955.
Music Clip from EAST OF EDEN:
Theme" (clip) by Leonard Rosenman (a .MP3 file).
(For help opening the above file, visit the plug-ins
Released less than a month after his death, Dean's second major film, REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955), is the
story of Jim Stark, a new kid in town who hopes to find the love he doesn't get
at home among new friends but seems to find only trouble. Co-starring
maturing child star Natalie Wood,
REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE was a daring statement about the realities of day-to-day teenage existence
in an era when the baby-boom generation was just reaching adolescence and
post-war society had not yet come to terms with the cultural changes brought
about by the ever-increasing number of American youth.
Dean as Jim Stark with Plato (Sal Mineo) preparing for the
"chickie" race in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955). Though
this was the one of his three major performances for which he did not receive
an Oscar nomination, it is probably the film for which he is most famous.
tearing me apart!" --as Jim Stark in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE
(a .WAV file).
you kiddin' me?" --as Jim Stark in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (a
- "Hey they forgot to wind the sundial!" --as Jim Stark
in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE.
- "Nobody talks to children." --as Jim Stark in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE.
In his final film, George
Stevens' GIANT (1956), Dean starred alongside two of Hollywood's biggest
stars of the 1950s, Rock
Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor.
Having finished shooting his part only days before his fatal car accident, Dean
received his Best Actor nomination posthumously for his role as cowboy-turned-Texas-oil-tycoon Jett Rink
in GIANT. After his death, with only a few days
left in production, actor Nick Adams provided Jet Rink's voice for a few of
Dean's remaining lines.
- Giant" (clip) by
Tiomkin (a .MP3 file).
(For help opening the multimedia files, visit the plug-ins
- James Dean: a bio-bibliography by David Hofstede (Westport, CT:
Greenwood Press, 1996).
- Rebel males: Clift, Brando, and Dean by Graham McCann (New
Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1993).
- The films of James Dean by Mark Whitman (Bembridge, England:
Barnden Castell Williams Ltd., 1975).
- Too young to die by Patricia Fox-Sheinwold (Baltimore:
Ottenheimer Publishers, 1979).
- Five for Hollywood by John Parker (Secaucus, NJ : Carol Pub.
Filmography | Awards | Downloads |