James Dean was born on this date in 1931 in Marion, Indiana. Before he became the face of teenage rebellion and one of film’s greatest legends, he was a struggling actor living in New York. When not studying at the Actors Studio or getting parts in plays, he spent his time on a variety of interests—books, drawing, sculpting, photography, playing his bongo drums while listening to jazz, and roaming the streets of the city. He was always exploring, always learning.
I love all three of the films he made—East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant (I remember first seeing him in East of Eden when I was a kid and being completely mesmerized)—but when it comes to photos, I’ve always been fond of those of him in New York. On the street or with camera in hand, looking just so damn cool. So Happy Birthday Jimmy Dean. We hardly knew you.
Photos by Roy Schatt.