Remembering James Dean: 3 Unforgettable Film Roles

James Dean, "East of Eden" (1955)
Courtesy of Everett Collection

A man with bad eyesight and a yen for speed, he died in a car crash in 1955 at 24, then got an Oscar nomination as the young hero in Elia Kazan's screen version of John Steinbeck's novel. He got a second posthumous nom for 1956's "Giant."

The screen icon was born 85 years ago today.

James Dean cemented his place in cinema history with just three films to his credit.

He enjoyed numerous TV roles, but it was his work in East of Eden (1955), Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and Giant (1956) made him as an icon of cool who remains idolized decades later.

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The actor, who was born on Feb. 8, 1931, and would have turned 85 today, died in a car crash in 1955 when he was 24.

Below are three of the scenes that make him remembered today.

East of Eden (1955)

Dean earned a best actor Oscar nomination for his portrayal of one of two brothers in the adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel. The film from director Elia Kazan also starred Julie Harris and Richard Davalos.

Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

Dean played disaffected, suburban teenager Jim in Nicholas Ray's generation defining film. Dean died less than one month before the film's release, with his performance praised alongside the work of costars Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo and Dennis Hopper. Screenwriter Stewart Stern died earlier this month.

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Giant (1956)

Dean squared off against Rock Hudson for Elizabeth Taylor's affections in the drama from director George Stevens. Dean played a poor handyman with dreams of striking oil and striking it rich. He was praised for his final film performance, earning a best actor Oscar nomination alongside Hudson. He remains the only person to receive more than one posthumous acting nomination.

What are your favorite Dean scenes? Let us know in the comments.