James Dean was a huge icon during the 1950s. He had it all going for him, the look and fashion, talent along with a great progressing movie career. His life was cut short at a very young age but this didn’t stop him from being a powerful fifties icon that is still idolized and discussed during our age.
His acting career first started when he appeared in a Pepsi commercial.
In the fifties his career picked up when he appeared in The Web, studio One, Lux Video Theatre and Omnibus. Omnibus was a stepping-stone for his role in Rebel Without a Cause because he played almost the exact same character.
Rebel Without a Cause (see trailer) was the movie that truly immortalized Jimmy Dean. Every girl in the fifties fell in love with him. Joe Hyams said that Dean was “one of the rare stars, like Rock Hudson and Montgomery Clift, who both men and women find sexy.”
He also set a new trend for dress and acting. His fashion statement was nothing more than jeans rolled up, loafers, white shirt and a rugged jacket. This was enough to bring out the usual tread of the ‘greasers’ to the fashion front of the fifties.
Most people didn’t know that Jimmy’s first love wasn’t acting but racing. Following his movie East of Edan, Jimmy was able to buy a Porsche 356 Speedster which he raced frequently. This turned into an obsession with him. In fact, during the filming of the movie Giant, he was banned from racing. They didn’t want anything to prevent the filming of the movie to finish as planned.
He told his close friends soon before his death that he intended to give up acting all together to move forward with his racing career. His friends also record Jimmy as having horrible bi-polar mood swings and severe depression during this time. One close friend stated that during this period he gave away his cat just incase he decided one day not to return home.
Jimmy’s career never proceeded into the sixties. In September of 1955 Jimmy died at the young age of 24 in Cholame, California. He was on his way to race his new Porsche 550 Spyder when he was hit head on by a truck whose driver wasn’t paying attention. Jimmy’s last words were recorded as, “That guy’s gotta stop… He’ll see us.” Seven days before the accident one friend told him that “If you get in that car, you will be found dead in it by this time next week.”