James Dean

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James Dean

James Dean East of Eden Lobby Card Signed - 1955

An extremely scarce 1955 Warner Bros. lobby card from East of Eden, inscribed and authentically signed: “To Bob with all my best wishes – James Dean.” Featuring Dean in a romantic embrace with co-star Julie Harris. 11″ x 14″, this lobby card is in Fine condition with pin holes in the corners and near the image field, a few areas of mild soiling, a few corner creases, and tearing, discoloration, and chipping to the edges. Only a light crease through the “D” affects the signature. Accompanied by Letter of Authenticity by James Spence Authentication LLC.

JAMES BYRON DEAN (1931-1955) was a two-time Oscar-nominated American film actor. Dean’s status as a cultural icon is best embodied in the title of his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause, in which he starred as troubled stereotypical high school rebel Jim Stark. The other two roles that defined his star power were as the awkward loner Cal Trask in East of Eden, and as the surly farmer Jett Rink in Giant. His enduring fame and popularity rests on only three films, his entire starring output. His death at the young age of 24 helped guarantee a legendary status. He was the first actor to receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and remains the only person to have two posthumous acting nominations.

In 1953, director Elia Kazan was looking for an actor to play the role of “Cal Trask” in screenwriter Paul Osborn’s adaptation of John Steinbeck’s 1952 novel East of Eden. The book dealt with the story of the Trask and Hamilton families over the course of three generations, focusing especially on the lives of the latter two generations in Salinas Valley, California in the mid-1800s through the 1910s. However, the film chose to deal predominantly with the character of Cal Trask, who is essentially the rebel son of a pious and constantly disapproving father (played by Raymond Massey), and estranged mother, whom Cal discovers is a brothel-keeping madam (Jo Van Fleet). Elia Kazan said of Cal before casting, “I wanted a Brando for the role.” Osborn suggested to Kazan that he consider Dean for the part. After introducing Dean to Steinbeck, and gaining his enthusiastic approval, Kazan set about putting the wheels in motion to cast the relatively unknown young actor in the role. On March 8, 1954, Dean left New York City and headed for Los Angeles to begin shooting. Dean’s performance in the film foreshadowed his role as Jim Stark in Rebel Without A Cause. Both characters are rebel loners and misunderstood outcasts, desperately craving parental guidance from a father figure.

Much of Dean’s performance in the film is completely unscripted, such as his dance in the bean field and his curling up and pulling his arms inside of his shirt on top of the train during his ride home from meeting his mother. The most famous improvisation during the film was when Cal’s father rejects his gift of $5,000 (which was in reparation for his father’s business loss). Instead of running away from his father as the script called for, Dean instinctively turned to Massey and, crying, embraced him. This cut and Massey’s shocked reaction were kept in the film by Kazan.

At the 1955 Academy Awards, he received a posthumous Best Actor in a Leading Role Academy Award nomination for this role, the first official posthumous acting nomination in Academy Awards history.

Many American teens at the time of Dean’s major movies identified with Dean and the roles he played, especially in Rebel Without A Cause: the typical teenager, caught where no one, not even his peers, can understand him. Journalist Joe Hyams says that Dean was “one of the rare stars, like Rock Hudson and Montgomery Clift, who both men and women find sexy.” According to author and Harvard professor Marjorie Garber, this quality is “the undefinable extra something that makes a star.” Dean’s iconic appeal has been attributed to the public’s need for someone to stand up for the disenfranchised young of the era, and to the air of androgyny that he projected onscreen.

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