James Byron Dean (February 8, 1931 – September 30, 1955) was an American film actor. He is a cultural icon, best embodied by the title of his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause (1955), in which he starred as a troubled Los Angeles teenager, Jim Stark. The other two roles that defined his stardom were as loner Cal Trask in East of Eden (1955), and as the surly farmer, Jett Rink, in Giant (1956). Dean's enduring fame and popularity rests on performances in only these three films, all leading roles. His premature death in a car crash cemented his legendary status.
James Dean was the first actor to receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and remains the only actor to have had two posthumous acting nominations. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Dean the 18th best male movie star on their AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars list.
James Dean was born on February 8, 1931, at the Seven Gables apartment house in Marion, Indiana, to Winton Dean and Mildred Wilson. Six years after his father had left farming to become a dental technician, James and his family moved to Santa Monica, California. The family spent several years there, and by all accounts young Dean was very close to his mother. According to Michael DeAngelis, she was "the only person capable of understanding him". He was enrolled at Brentwood Public School in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles until his mother died of cancer when Dean was nine years old.