F R O M T H E F I L M ' G I A N T ' - 1 9 5 6 S E R I E S : " D I A M O N D D U S T " | 2 0 2 1
James Dean was an American actor with a career that lasted five years. Although Dean‘s career was cut short at age 24, the three films he starred in were enough to make the actor a legend. Dean’s iconic image was that of a careless teen with slicked-back hair and a cigarette dangling between his lips. James Dean was one of the formative influences of the teenage culture of the mid-1950s and misunderstood teenagers all over the world identified with his “rebel without a cause”. Several music researchers also noted Dean's singular influence on rock and roll, including the works of Elvis Presley. Dean was not close to his father as a child but had a special connection with his mother. The boy dreamed of becoming an actor and spent his days learning to tap dance, making art, and playing the violin. When Dean was nine, his mother died of cancer. Dean’s father sent him 2,000 miles away to live in Fairmount, Indiana, with an aunt and uncle. After high school, Dean moved between LA and NY to pursue acting. He was asked to star in the feature film “East of Eden. This film would set Dean’s career in motion. “He understood pain,” says actor Martin Landau. “Young people usually don’t have that kind of pain or don’t wear it as externally.” Dean, in every sense, was a rebel—just like the characters he played on-screen. He didn’t conform to the clean-cut, all-American style expected of young stars of that era. He arrived late to work and was often moody and uncooperative on set. In September 1955, Dean, who loved racing cars, crashed his Porsche. He had completed filming his role for “Giant.” “Giant” was released shortly after Dean’s death and became a box office sensation. Dean’s death rattled the world. His legacy was solidified when Dean was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role for “East of Eden,” making Dean the first actor in the history of the Academy Awards to be nominated posthumously. He was nominated again in 1956 for his role in “Giant.” Dean remains the only actor to receive two Academy Award nominations posthumously.