Friday, September 23, 2005

An American Icon

Friday, September 30, 2005 marks the 50th anniversary of the day the world lost an American icon: The late great James Dean.

The classic James Dean portrait. Photo by Roy Schatt. (c.1954)

While I haven't really been into James Dean all that much recently, I was really into him during my teens and early 20s. I had James Dean posters. I read almost everything I could about him. I watched all his films (which isn't hard to do, since he only made three). My favorite was Giant.

Why did I like him so much? I think it was because he embodied everything I wished I was. He was cool. He was confident. He was hot. In fact it was around that time that I started using my given name of "James" rather than my childhood name of "Jim" or "Jimmy." In fact, that's still in effect with anyone that has met me during college or thereafter (only my relatives still call me "Jimmy," which I don't mind at all).

The classic photo from Giant. (c.1955)

In my Junior year in high school, when I was applying for colleges, my mom and dad took me on a cross-state road trip to all. the major state universities in Southern California. It was on that trip that I persuaded them to depart from Interstate 5 and take old 41 and 46 two-lane highways so I could drive the same route that James Dean drove on the day of that fateful day in 1955.

We even stopped to take a picture on site where his Porsche Spyder collided with another car in the remote town of Cholame, California. I've driven through there one or two times since, and every time, it's hard for me to believe that this is where his life ended.

James Dean: February 8, 1931 - September 30, 1955. (c.1954)

For years, I always said I wanted to go to the spot on September 30. It won't happen this year, however, since I'll be in Canada. But at the very least I can pay a small tribute in the James & Tim Blog.

1 comment:

Loren said...

And, here I thought you used James because it's the gay thing to do. ;)

But, seriously, I always love your tributes. When I went to CalArts, we'd go to the Saugus Cafe in...well...Saugus, which is said to be the place where James Dean ate before he died.