The short but meteoric career of James Dean was cut short by a car accident.
Despite a career that only spanned five years, James Dean was one of biggest stars of the 1950’s. He rose to stardom after starring in just three movies and quickly became an icon of youth, rebellion, and disenchantment. Dean was born in Marion, Indiana on February 8, 1931. At the age of nine he lost his mother to uterine cancer and his father sent him to live with his aunt, where he was raised in a Quaker household. After graduating high school in 1949 he moved to California where he started college as a pre-law major. He transferred to UCLA for one semester and changed his major to drama. While there he was chosen out of 350 actors for a role in Macbeth. In 1951 he dropped out of UCLA to pursue an acting career.
His first television role was in a commercial for Pepsi. For the next several years he had small parts in movies, television and theater. After four uncredited movie appearances Dean got his big break in 1955 with a role in East of Eden. He was posthumously nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of character Cal Trask in the movie based on John Steinbeck’s epic novel. That same year he also had major roles in Rebel Without a Cause and Giant, both of which garnered him a great deal of fame and professional recognition. Just as James Dean’s star was rising it was quickly extinguished when he died in a car accident caused by his reckless speeding on September 30, 1955.