Because what’s more interesting than how she died is how she lived: as a stand-in for teens beset by angst the world over, with an image mobilized to both assuage and accelerate societal anxieties about female sexual desire.
Wood, Natalia Nikolaevna Zacharenko, was the child of Russian immigrants, and spent her early years in Southern California.
It was a look he perfected, because he was certainly narcissistic – encouraging photographers to follow him around, with one even driving in a car behind him the day he died.
“That little-boy-lost look and his vulnerability became his key to stardom.“He was difficult, selfish and insecure but he made love to some of Hollywood’s greatest beauties.” Amazingly Dean dreamed of marrying Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor.
Dean met Monroe in 1955 and the pair quickly adjourned to a romantic weekend at a beachfront cottage.“He was very loving, very romantic,” Monroe told actress Shelley Winters.
And her acting oscillated between the poignant and the hysterical, for which she was alternately lauded and lampooned.
But she had a work ethic, and ultimately survived studio manipulation to become a legend in her own right, starring in one of the most successful and seminal musicals of the past fifty years.
He lived fast, died young and left a corpse mangled beyond recognition.
Sixty years after James Dean’s fatal car crash a shocking new biography reveals the insatiable libido and tormented psyche of the Rebel Without A Cause star who slept his way to the top in Hollywood.“He would sleep with anybody to get ahead,” says Darwin Porter, author of James Dean – Tomorrow Never Comes.
Even before East Of Eden was released, director Elia Kazan and Warners knew they had something special, but already Dean was proving difficult in a Hollywood more familiar with the quiescent stars of the studio system.
Dean’s second film, Rebel Without A Cause, with Natalie Wood, was a study of the new American obsession with middle-class delinquency.
“He had three or four conquests each week and though he wasn’t the most handsome man, didn’t have a great body, had two false front teeth and was often rude, women and men threw themselves at him.