Seems like you always see these iconic stills of the handsome and talented James Dean where he is very posed (to great effect, I’m not knocking that aspect), but the truth is he was one of those really energetic guys that can’t sit still. He always had to be moving around, even on set when he wasn’t the one before the cameras.
In fact, he got into photography and took dozens of pictures of his famous friends and coworkers while filming and even at parties — I think it was his way of turning the attention off himself because there is no way he could have stood the scrutiny otherwise. It was sort of a prop, but also a demonstration of his neverending interest in the world around him.
Above, camera-shenanigans with Sammy Davis, Jr. on the red carpet; Below, holding the camera and posing his sham girlfriend, Italian actress Pier Angeli. Pier married Vic Damone before her agreed-upon time was up of having to pretend to date the closeted Dean. Dean didn’t mind but the studios did. They had tried to get Natalie Wood first and she said no. She only did so after a short period of gristing the rumor mill to quiet the gossip columnists on the subject of Dean’s sexuality, but I have noted she mysteriously stopped going along with it, maybe getting to like him too well as a friend to participate in lies? dunno — not that she was above that cause she went on studio-sponsored dates with lots of dudes, e.g. Tab Hunter, to legitimize their “swinging-but-not-swinging-like-that-cause-we-are-manly-guys-as-is-evidenced-by-this-date-with-Ms.-Woods!” bachelor status; I have never heard exactly why she turned down their suggestion of long-terming it for fakes with James Dean. Anyway, so they found their Italian Natalie lookalike (I love Pier in her own right but I do not like that she supported that kind of repressive chicanery), but she didn’t end up going for it in the long run either, like I said, marrying Damone. This is a long caption and I feel like I should quit now. Sorry. I’m on Day-Quil. I think it’s strong stuff. (It’s been a long time since I used real drugs.)
So here are some pictures where I hope that sort of frantic, kinetic energy translates, even if the social situation constrained his mobility to crazy facial expressions.
All-time favorite picture via Nick Drake.
I’m a serious minded and intense little devil – terribly gauche and so tense that I don’t see how people can stay in the same room as me. I know I couldn’t tolerate myself. — James Dean
With Natalie on the set of Rebel Without a Cause, 1955.
They say you can’t get it on with a girl in a Porsche. That’s bullshit. If you don’t believe me, ask Natalie. (qtd in Against Death and Time, by Brock Yates.)
In a way, their halfhearted effort at the appearance of being in a relationship served Natalie just as well, because she was actually sleeping with director Nick Ray, who was 44 at the time, and it would have been a big scandal.
Instead, Natalie and Elizabeth Taylor became two of his closest friends, and in the final analysis, that’s so much nicer and longer-lasting than sex partners.
Since I’m only 24 years old, guess I have as good an insight into this rising generation as any other young man my age. And I’ve discovered that most young men do not stand like ramrods or talk like Demosthenes. Therefore, when I do play a youth, such as in Warner Bros.’ Rebel Without A Cause, I try to imitate life.
Dig the sarcastically dutiful effort to mention the production company. Such the tongue-in-cheek fox.
Dancing in a straw hat with a cigarette in his mouth: via angelinaadoptme.
I’m playing the damn bongos and the world can go to hell.
Girls like a boy who reads!
There is no way to be truly great in this world. We are all impaled on the crook of conditioning. A fish that is in the water has no choice that he is. Genius would have it that we swim in sand. We are fish and we drown.
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