James Byron Dean (February 8, 1931 – September 30, 1955) was an American actor. Dean is remembered as a cultural icon of teenage disillusionment and social estrangement, as expressed in the title of his most celebrated film, Nicholas Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause (1955), with Sal Mineo, Natalie Wood, Jim Backus, and Ann Doran; in which he starred as troubled teenager Jim Stark.
The other two roles that defined his stardom were loner Cal Trask in Elia Kazan‘s East of Eden (1955), with Julie Harris, Raymond Massey, Burl Ives, Richard Davalos, and Jo Van Fleetand; surly ranch hand Jett Rink in George Stevens’s Giant (1956), with Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Carroll Baker, Jane Withers, Chill Wills, Mercedes McCambridge, Dennis Hopper, Mineo, Rod Taylor, Elsa Cárdenas and Earl Holliman. East of Eden was the only film released while alive and the only one he viewed in its entirety. After his death in a car crash, Dean 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 (for East of Eden and Giant). In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked him the 18th best male movie star of Golden Age Hollywood in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Stars list.
His early film career included uncredited parts in Samuel Fuller’s Fixed Bayonets! (1951), with Richard Basehart, Gene Evans, and Miles O’Shea; Hal Walker’s Sailor Beware (1952), with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis; Deadline – U.S.A. (1952), with Humphrey Bogart, Ethel Barrymore, and Kim Hunter; Douglas Sirk’s Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (1952), with Piper Laurie, Hudson, Charles Coburn, and Gigi Perreau; and Michael Curtiz‘s Trouble Along the Way (1953), with John Wayne and Donna Reed. He also appeared in episodes of such early 1950s television shows as Family Theater, The Bigelow Theater, CBS Television Workshop, Lux Video Series, Tales of Tomorrow, Westinghouse Studio One, Kraft Television Theatre, Robert Montgomery Presents, The United States Steel Hour, Danger, Omnibus, and General Electric Theater.
Each review will be linked to the title below.
(*seen originally in theaters)
(**seen rereleased in theaters)
- Fxed Bayonets! (1951) – directed by Samuel Fuller – uncredited
- Sailor Beware (1952) – directed by Hal Walker – uncredited
- Deadline – U.S.A. (1952) – directed by Richard Brooks – uncredited
- Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (1952) – directed by Douglas Sirk – uncredited
- Trouble Along the Way (1953) – directed by Michael Curtiz – uncredited
- East of Eden (1955) – directed by Elia Kazan
- Rebel Without a Cause (1955)** – directed by Nicholas Ray – posthumous release
- Giant (1956) – directed by George Stevens – posthumous release