James Dean

James Byron Dean (February 8, 1931 – September 30, 1955) was an American actor. He is a cultural icon of teenage disillusionment and social estrangement, as expressed in the title of his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause (1955), in which he starred as troubled teenager Jim Stark. The other two roles that defined his stardom were loner Cal Trask in East of Eden (1955) and surly ranch hand Jett Rink in Giant (1956). Dean's enduring fame and popularity rest on his performances in only these three films, two in which he is the leading actor.

Dean's premature death in a car crash cemented his legendary status. He became the first actor to receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, and remains the only actor to have had two posthumous acting nominations. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked him the 18th best male movie star on their AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars list.

By Dean Hanley

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