James Dean

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James Dean
James Byron Dean
BirthplaceMarion, Indiana, U.S.
EducationFairmount High School

Dean, James

(James Byron Dean), 1931–55, American film actor, b. Marion, Ind. After a few stage and television roles, Dean was chosen to play the moody, rebellious son in the film East of Eden (1953). He was further identified with restless, inarticulate youth in his second film Rebel without a Cause (1954). Dean was killed when his racing car crashed the day after he finished work on Giant (1955). His death set off a worldwide wave of popular mourning unequaled since the death of Rudolph ValentinoValentino, Rudolph
, 1895–1926, American film actor, b. Italy as Rodolfo Guglielmi. He emigrated to the United States in 1913 and, after a brief career as a dancer and bit player, was an instant success in the film The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
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, and he has remained a cult hero.


See V. Herndon, James Dean: A Short Life (1974); D. Dalton and R. Cayen, James Dean: American Icon (1984); P. Alexander, Boulevard of Broken Dreams: The Life, Times and Legend of James Dean (1994).

Dean, James

(1931–1955) leader of restless youth cult in early 50s. [Am. Cinema: NCE, 730]

Dean, James

(1931–1955) actor whose inarticulateness epitomized the anti-eloquence of American youth in the 1950s. [Am. Cinema: Griffith, 423]

Dean, James (Byron)

(1931–55) film actor; born in Marion, Ind. Raised on an Iowa farm, after high school he attended college in California, where he joined a little theater group and did occasional television commercials and bit part film appearances. Arriving in New York in 1952, he got a part in See the Jaguar on Broadway. He had bit parts on television and acted on Broadway in The Immoralist (1954), which got him a Hollywood screen test. He starred in only three movies—East of Eden (1955), Rebel Without a Cause (1955), and Giant (1956)—but this moody actor was instantly acclaimed as the epitome of the mid-fifties, representing the alienated American youth of the time, the true rebel without a cause. On September 30, 1955 he was killed in a highway crash while driving his Porsche to compete in a racing event. He became a cult figure, and for many years after his death remained a symbol of youthful alienation and rebellion.