James Dean Would Be Celebrating His 80th Birthday

James Dean, the iconic actor who died at the age of 24, would have turned 80 years old yesterday.

Starring in only three films, Deans fame and popularity rest on three riveting performances. His tragic early death solidified his legend.

In Rebel Without A Cause, Deans most famous film, he starred as Jim Stark, a teenager who symbolized the teenage restlessness of the mid 1950s. In East of Eden he portrayed a loner. In his last film Giant, he took a supporting role to Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor.

Dean was still filming Giant when he drove his Porsche Spyder race car into another car in Cholame California on Sept. 30, 1955, after receiving a speeding ticket two hours earlier. As a result of the collision he died from a broken neck.

Terrence Rafferty in The New York Times in 2005 wrote of Deans performance in Giant, If anything, it's "Giant," more than "East of Eden" and "Rebel," that makes Dean's death so tragic. In his last film he let us see him not as a beautiful, disturbed, narcissistic youth, but as an actor who was starting to grow up. Rafferty said, The pity is that he, and we, never got to find out if he had more in him than his myth.

The first actor to receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, he was also nominated posthumously for a second Best Actor award. When he died only one of the three films he starred in had been released.

For the fiftieth anniversary of his death in 2005, Warner Home Video released a box set of his films.
Deans hometown of Fairmount, Indiana is planning a celebration to commemorate his birthday this weekend.

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