While James Dean was only able to complete a few films before his death, his rebel, cool persona instantly connected with a generation that has never forgotten. Below those who knew him well recall the Hollywood titan.
1. Elizabeth Taylor
"I think he had no only the training of method acting, but I think he was also instinctive. We had an extraordinary friendship. We would sometimes sit up until three in the morning… I loved him."
Read about Giant here.
2. Natalie Wood
“Jimmy’s proud to be an actor, don’t ever doubt that. But it’s not for the fame, the glamour, the money. It’s the sense of achievement, the thrill of doing a good job.”
Read about Rebel Without a Cause here.
3. Julie Harris
"I thought he was absolutely mesmerizing. I thought his performance [in East of Eden] was so beautiful and had such variety to it."
Read about East of Eden here.
4. Merdedes McCambridge
“James Dean was a dedicated, perfectionist actor. I watched him develop bits of business until they seemed a part of his nature.”
5. James Dean, 1948 essay
“I think my life will be devoted to art and dramatics… I know if I better myself that there will be no match… a fellow must have confidence.”
6. Director Nicholas Ray
"To work with him meant exploring his nature, trying to understand it."
7. Dennis Hopper
“I don't think there's any question in anybody's mind that in Giant a 24 year old gives one of the greatest performances I've ever seen. It's one of the most memorable performances ever on the screen.”
8. Sal Mineo
"We all grew around him, and we all did look up to him."
9. Jim Backus
"He prepared himself so well in advance for any scene he was playing that the lines were not simply something he had memorized. They were actually a very real part of him... We still can't believe that the vital, talented James Dean is gone. The entertainment world has lost the greatest young actor of our time, and I have lost a friend."