James Dean was born in 1931 and raised on a farm by his aunt and uncle in Fairmount, Indiana. After grade school, he moved to New York to pursue his dream of acting. He received rave reviews for his work as the blackmailing Arab boy in the New York production of Gide’s “The Immoralist”, good enough to earn him a trip to Hollywood.
Dean’s first television experience came in the form of a 1950 Pepsi commercial — a far cry from his first big screen debut five years later in Elia Kazan’s East of Eden. His role as the angsty outcast Cal Trask was a prelude to achieving full-blown stardom in Rebel Without a Cause.
The brooding young actor gained international fame playing Jim Stark, a teenager who, as the title implies, can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Dean had a classic greaser look with slicked-back hair, jeans and a tight white T-shirt that was capped off not with a black leather jacket but a red windbreaker, and of course, a cigarette dangling from his mouth. It may not seem cutting-edge by today’s style icon standards, but his rebellious look marked a definite departure from predominantly preppy and buttoned-up midcentury styles.
Life imitated art with James Dean carrying that brazen image into his everyday existence. A taste for fast cars was conveniently accompanied by fame and fortune that allowed him luxuries like a Porsche 356 Speedster, which he later traded in for the more exclusive — and faster — 550 Spyder model. Not surprisingly, Dean had a habit of racing his pricey investments. It was the natural complement to his all-American bad boy persona. But as luck would have it, life in the fast lane ultimately led to an untimely demise at the ripe young age of 24.
Dean’s legacy, however, far outlives his short time on Earth for one simple reason — he embodied the essence of cool. He was one of the first male actors who garnered as much attention from women as he did from men. And while James Dean’s sexual past remains shrouded in mystery to this day, one thing is clear: Everyone either wanted him or wanted to be like him.
Inspiration from James Dean’s look
A revival of the NY gang style with a great influence from James Dean have been featured in the stylish UK GQ magazine.
Bottega Veneta – MEN ’S FALL-WINTER 2010/2011
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