Appreciating all that makes America special

Actor: James Dean

James Dean, the rebel. Uploaded by

Three movies. That’s all it took to create one of Hollywood’s most enduring legends. Oh, he had a couple of bit parts before making it big, but we know him from three movies: East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant.

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And yet those three appearances all featured Dean as the anti-hero that became hugely popular in the fifties. I mean, you could tell he was going to be trouble even by the names of his characters. Cal Trask. Jim Stark. Jett Rink. And if you could choose a name for a movie about a disaffected youth who would die in a car crash at only 24, could you come up with anything better than Rebel Without a Cause?

Dean was, however, more than a cult figure. He studied his craft under method acting guru Lee Strasberg. He received two posthumous Academy Award nominations for Best Actor. And despite his limited filmography, the American Film Institute ranked him the 18th best male movie star in its 100 Years…100 Stars list. Truly he was too fast to live, but too young to die.

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  1. I think it’s amazing how many actors since have mimicked his brooding, cool style.  It’s obvious if you look for it. Remember Dillon McKay from 90210?  A total James Dean rip off (and not as good).  Marilyn Monroe comes to mind in the same way.

  2. Not a big James Dean fan but I guess I don’t get the bad boy attraction,  As for BenCotten’s comparison to Dillon McKay on 90210? Never saw the show at all so don’t get that. That having been said, I do agree with JD as a great american thing…just because of his legendary Hollywood greatness.