Known for his bad boy image — and even looked upon as a sex symbol— James Dean had a passion for cars and talent for acting. He didn’t let his childhood mishaps get in the way of his success.
James Dean was born February 8, 1931, in Marion, Indiana. His parents were Winton and Mildred Dean. Unfortunately, when James was only 5 years old, his mother passed away. So he was foster parented by his aunt and uncle on their farm in Indiana.
Even though his career as an actor was brief, James Dean to this day is widely admired for his acting skills. After he graduated from high school in Indiana, James moved to California where he attended UCLA. He first began acting in James Whitmore’s acting workshop, where he started out with commercials and several roles in plays.
In 1951 he decided to pursue his career as a serious actor and moved to New York. Within a year he had starred in three movies including “ Rebel Without a Cause.” He was nominated for 2 Academy Awards for his performances in “East of Eden” and “Giant”.
Along with acting, James Dean was also involved with car racing. He owned a Porsche 356 1500cc Super Speedster convertible and a silver Porsche 550 Spyder. On March 26th, 1955, James won the preliminary race at the Palm Springs Road Races, qualifying him for the finals. In the finals, he originally placed 3rd place but after one of the other racers was disqualified he was bumped down to 2nd place. He also placed in 2 other races, the Santa Barbara Road Race and another at Minter Field Bakersfield in California. Unfortunately his love for speed led to a tragic accident on a highway in 1955, that cost him his life.
“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”
— James Dean