Saturday, March 10, 2012

Gone Too Soon: James Dean

When it comes to the topic of actors that died too young, one of the first people that comes to mind is James Dean. On September 30, 1955, Dean was killed in a car crash at the age of 24. Although he made only three films (East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant), Dean made a lasting impact during his short life, and he continues to influence many today. After I decided to write about James Dean for the Gone Too Soon blogathon hosted by Comet Over Hollywood, I began to think about the different ways that he has influenced pop culture and media, which is what I'll be discussing today.

Dean has been referenced of mentioned in dozens of popular songs, some of them being "A Young Man Is Gone" by The Beach Boys, "Electrolite" by R.E.M., "James Dean" by the Eagles, "Rockstar" by Nickelback, "Speechless" by Lady GaGa, "Blue Jeans" by Lana Del Ray, "These Days" by Bon Jovi and is one of several stars mentioned in "Vogue" by Madonna.

Dean is also recognized in several television shows and movies. On Happy Days, a picture of Dean is seen in Fonzie's closet,  another appears on Rizzo's wall in Grease. The show Queer as Folk compares him to music icons Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix ("They're all legends. They'll always be young, and they will always be beautiful"). Dean is also portrayed by actor James Franco in the biopic James Dean, released by TNT in 2001. I haven't seen the film myself, but I've heard several Dean fans praise Franco's performance and most of the film is said to be accurate compared to Dean's life.

Thanks to Comet Over Hollywood for hosting the Gone Too Soon blogathon. Please go check out the other contributions recognizing other actors whose lives ended prematurely.

Until next time...


  1. Hi Meredith, I've tagged you for a blog award :)

  2. Awesome post! James Dean gets debated in other blogs on whether he's a great actor or if his death elevates him too highly. To them I say "Watch Rebel Without a Cause" and the answers there. Such a shame that all the stars of that movie had such a short life.

  3. Fry from Futurama was also based on James Dean (well, the look of him anyway!).

    Great post!

  4. You NEED to watch James Dean (the movie)! James Franco was terrific! East Of Eden is one of the best performances from a young actor there was.

    I can't compare the young actors of today (Zac Efron, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Chris Hemsworth) to Dean's level.

    I guess some people judge him on the fact that he only did 3 films...but he only did 3 films and all 3 were well recieved at the time they were released and became classics.

    It's not Jimmy's fault that he couldn't stick around longer to do more!

    Excellent post!

  5. No Gone Too Soon Blogathon would be complete without James Dean!

    One of my favorite films and my favorite of Taylor's and Rock's is Giant. I watch it every year and it's even better each time I see it.

    Dean isn't my favorite actor or even in the top 10 but I have to give him credit for his acting in East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause. I think many actors of tried immolating him over the years but they've often fallen short.

    You've done a fantastic job paying tribute to him here. Another actor who died the way he lived but too soon. He's one actor that had so many great roles left in him, sadly we never got to see where he career would have turned.

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