A Tribute to James Dean
It’s no exaggeration to say that no other actor in Hollywood has so many fans after having produced so little work as James Dean. He made three major films (plus four uncredited appearances) in two years (two of which gained him Best Actor nominations), then died in an automobile accident on September 30, 1955. He would have been 77 years old on February 8, 2008 if he’d lived, and there’s no way to really tell how much we might have lost in the way of great performances.
The studios have reported that more people wrote to James Dean after he died than wrote to any living star at the time. He has more fans and more pages on the Web than almost every other classic star, and more than many current actors and actresses. He got his wish, as he once said, to live on after he died. But it is certainly fascinating to speculate about which of his contemporaries Jimmy would most resemble if he had lived. Marlon Brando, with whom he is often compared? (One hopes Jimmy would have kept himself in better condition, at least.) Dennis Hopper, who appeared in two films with him and continues to be the rebel as he approaches the age of 65? Or Paul Newman, who is also into racing, and who aged gracefully and gained respect as his career progressed? I would have to speculate that writing and directing would certainly have been part of his legacy.
As for his short but colorful life, I will leave it to the various already existing sites to tell that story. They do it very well. Of course, as it is with all truly controversial figures, there are differences of opinion about James Dean’s life and work. There are those who feel that he had the potential to be one of the greatest actors who ever lived, while others believe he was overrated. It’s not the purpose of this article to try and resolve those differences. Listed under “James Dean Tributes/Pages” you’ll find a variety of sites, many of them created by people who don’t agree with each other, even about the facts of Dean’s life. They’re all presented here without comment or criticism. I leave it to you to decide what you believe. My personal approach is to let his work speak for itself.
There is a fan club called James Dean Remembered, created in cooperation with the original founder of We Remember Dean International. It’s the only official James Dean fan club in the world. It was also started with the full cooperation and support of Marcus Winslow, Dean’s only surviving relative. The club offers a newsletter and 12 monthly e-mail “newsflashes” (more if there is any hot or late breaking news). They are associated with both The James Dean Memorial Gallery and The Fairmount Historical Museum, and have contributors on both coasts as well as in Dean’s hometown of Fairmount, Indiana. You can write to them at: James Dean Remembered, 11114 W. Baseline Road, Little Rock, Arkansas 72209. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Part I: Introduction
Part II: James Dean Tributes and Other Pages
Part III: Movie Reviews & Where to Find His Movies
Part IV: Books, Photos, Art, and Posters