Never before was teenage angst captured so wildly, so tenderly. Dean passed away less than a month before his most iconic role in Rebel Without a Cause (1955) was released in theaters. You can imagine the public furor over Jimmy burned even hotter in the months after Rebel was released, dubbing him "the boy who refused to die" as he graced more magazine covers and was plastered on more teen bedroom walls than in life. He was bigger than life. Funny how that happens.
Finally his last film Giant, was released in 1956, a full year after his death, completing his iconic trilogy of leading roles after East of Eden and Rebel, cementing his star in Hollywood Heaven. I find this series of photos for Life Magazine by photographer Allan Grant so haunting and strange in their commentary on celebrity and immortality: Studio staff prepare the last touches on deceased James' final film, fulfill the demand for memorabilia (eerily enough, hand painted face masks in the deceased's likeness) and handle post-mortem celebrity mail, while his co-stars muse over the last scraps of their friend and colleague's personal effects.
Friend and former Co-star Nick Adams sitting with his momentos of James Dean in s steel strongbox in his home.