->''"Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today."''
-->-- '''James Dean'''

James Byron Dean (February 8, 1931 September 30, 1955) was an American actor.

He is best known for the movies ''Film/RebelWithoutACause'', ''Film/EastOfEden'', and ''Film/{{Giant}}''... with good reason, as those are the only three films in which he had a starring role; he was killed in a car accident at the age of twenty-four, just as his career was starting to take off. Dean was the first actor to receive a posthumous UsefulNotes/AcademyAward nomination for Best Actor, and remains the only actor to have received more than one posthumous nomination.

A symbol of cool for teenagers of the [[TheFifties 1950s]] and nowadays for his being (reportedly) [[BiTheWay bisexual]]. His relatively short career and enduring popularity also makes him something of a real-life EnsembleDarkhorse.

The roles that made him famous (Cal Trask in ''Film/EastOfEden'' and Jim Stark in ''Film/RebelWithoutACause'') were TroubledButCute guys with {{Freudian Excuse}}s; his role as Jett Rink in ''Film/{{Giant}}'' was an attempt to break away from being typecast as troubled teens.

!!James Dean is commonly associated with the following tropes:

* AmbiguousDisorder: He was known for his extreme mood swings and may have suffered from undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder.
* AuthorExistenceFailure: Not all of his work on ''Giant'' had been completed prior to his death.
* BiTheWay: When [[MistakenForGay asked if he was homosexual]], he is reported to have replied, "Well, I'm certainly not going through life with one hand tied behind my back." In recent years, his male best friend revealed that they were sexually intimate. He is also known to have had relationships with women.
* CoolLoser: One of the archetypes with which he is most associated.
* DawsonCasting: In his early twenties in both ''Film/EastOfEden'' and ''Film/RebelWithoutACause''. He plays teenagers in both.
* EnforcedMethodActing:
** For the ferris wheel kiss in ''Film/EastOfEden'', he wouldn't pee until the scene was shot, resulting in him looking naturally uncomfortable.
** Elia Kazan amped up tensions between him and Raymond Massey off camera, resulting in natural tension between them on screen.
* IAmNotLeonardNimoy: James Dean is TroubledButCute personified. People will cosplay as Jim Stark and say they're James. ''Giant'' is his non TroubledButCute role, and it's the least remembered of his films for this reason. Had he lived longer, perhaps this would have been different.
* IconicOutfit: His iconic red jacket, white t-shirt and jeans in ''Rebel Without A Cause''.
* MetaCasting: ''Film/EastOfEden'' was essentially James playing himself, or a character very similar to himself - including the troubled relationship with his father. Elia Kazan has called it the most apt bit of casting he ever did. Upon meeting James, John Steinbeck remarked "he ''is'' Cal!"
* PlatonicLifePartners: With Creator/ElizabethTaylor.
* PlayingAgainstType: ''{{Film/Giant}}'' was an attempt at distancing himself from TroubledButCute roles.
* RealitySubtext: The tension between him and Rock Hudson on ''Giant'' was very real.
* TheRedStapler: T-shirt sales soared after ''Film/RebelWithoutACause''.
* SedgwickSpeech: His passenger on the fateful car trip survived, and reported that his last words were reassurance that the other driver could see them.
* SmallTownBoredom: Sent from Los Angeles to live with his aunt and uncle in tiny Fairmount, Indiana at age 9 after his mother died, he left town as soon as he graduated high school (though he kept in touch with his friends and family).
* ThrowItIn:
** During the climax of ''Film/EastOfEden'', the script called for Cal to get angry at Adam for rejecting his present. James instead improvised trying to hug him instead. Adam trying to push him away is Raymond Massey's genuine reaction.
** The opening scene of ''Film/RebelWithoutACause'' was him improvising with the monkey toy.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen:
** ''{{Film/Giant}}'' was going to be shot earlier, but Elizabeth Taylor got pregnant, and the schedule was pushed back. This allowed him to star in ''Film/RebelWithoutACause''.
** ''Rebel'' also was meant to contain a kiss between Jim and Plato.
** He wanted to quit acting and go into directing.