Starring James Dean, Sal Mineo, and Natalie Wood, among other big names of the day, Rebel Without a Cause is a film that defines a generation, and kicked off an entire subgenre of angsty suburban coming-of-age films. It wasn’t until the 1950s that the concept of the American suburb as we know it today came into existence. The idea of the American dream manifesting as a white picket fence, 2.5 kids, and a dog was a new Post-War phenomenon. In a way, Rebel Without a Cause was the very first movie to pick up on the discontent young people were feeling while growing up in a seemingly perfect environment.
Despite the safety and comfort perhaps not felt by their parents, the teenagers of the 1950s were inspired to act out, becoming “rebels” without any real reason to do so, other than boredom. And in a unfortunate turn of events, almost all of the actors who portrayed these wayward teens died far too young, and mostly of preventable tragedies. In a case of art imitating life, or perhaps the other way around, each star was a victim of fate, coincidentally having all participated in the same project that would outlive them all, and wind up in the Library of Congress as a time capsule from a bygone era.
James Dean Won A Posthumous Oscar After Dying In A Car Crash
James Dean died in a car accident at the age of 24, while en route to a race in his 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder. At the time of his death, James Dean was a rising star and an instant icon for his leading role in Rebel Without a Cause. He died soon after appearing in the film Giant opposite Elizabeth Taylor, which came out in the year after his death, and earned him a second posthumous Academy Award nomination, though he did not win.
Natalie Wood Drowned Off The Coast Of Catalina Island
The child of Russian immigrants, Natalie Wood began acting as a child, taking on her first major role in Miracle on 34th Street at the age of eight. She appeared in a wide range of films, demonstrating incredible range as she did seemingly every genre from Westerns like The Searchers to romantic comedies like Sex and the Single Girl. Wood died under mysterious circumstances when taking a yacht holiday with her husband and friends off the coast of Catalina Island near Los Angeles, California, with authorities ruling it a drowning.
Sal Mineo Was The Victim Of A Random Stabbing
Sal Mineo still holds the distinction of being the fifth-youngest person to be nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, getting recognition for his part in Rebel Without a Cause though he did not win. The Italian-American actor garnered the nickname “The Switchblade Kid” from his role in Crime in the Streets, though it seems in poor taste after his untimely death at the hands of a random criminal. Mineo was stabbed at the age of 37 by a pizza delivery man with a criminal record, who was caught and sentenced to 57 years in prison.
Jim Backus Suffered From Parkinson’s And Pneumonia
Jim Backus played James Dean’s father in Rebel Without a Cause. The famous actor was best know for his role on Gilligan’s Island, where he played Thurston Howell III, and even went on to have his own show, called The Jim Backus Show, that ran for one 39-episode season. He lived to be 76 years old, eventually dying from pneumonia which he contracted on top of suffering from Parkinson’s disease for several years prior.
Ann Doran Lived Until The Tender Age Of 89
A career character actress, Ann Doran was most-recognized for playing the part of James Dean’s mother in the film. The daughter of a silent film actress, Doran started acting at a young age and went from being a stand in to appearing in small parts in as many as 500 feature films. When she died, ostensibly of old age, at the age of 89, she left $400,000 to the Motion Picture Country House, a charitable organization and retirement home that helps seniors who dedicated their lives to the movie industry.
Corey Allen Died Days Before His 76th Birthday
A director, writer, and producer in addition to being an actor, Corey Allen had several large film and television appearances in addition to Rebel Without a Cause. Allen even had ties to Charles Manson, which he ultimately broke when his then-girlfriend told him that she didn’t like Manson’s “vibe”. After an illustrious Hollywood career, Allen passed away a few days before what would have been his 76th birthday, succumbing to Parkinson’s disease.
William Hopper Had A Stroke And Developed Pneumonia At 55
The child of an actor father and a Hollywood gossip columnist mother, William Hopper was an actor best known for his role as Paul Drake on the popular television show Perry Mason. Prior to appearing on Perry Mason, Hopper served in the Navy during World War II, and then worked as a car salesman for several years before transitioning to television acting. For his role in the courtroom drama series, he earned an Emmy nomination at the 11th Primetime Emmy Awards. Hopper suffered from a stroke, then developing pneumonia in the hospital and passing away weeks later.
Dennis Hopper Was Dying Of Cancer in 2010, And Still Sought A Divorce
Of no known connection to William, Dennis Hopper was born in Kansas, eventually moving with his family to San Diego before serving in the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. Having enjoyed drama class in high school, Hopper became involved with the Old Globe Theatre, taking a particular liking to Shakespeare. He then studied acting in New York with Lee Strasberg for years, appearing in several films, including Rebel Without a Cause before foraying into directing with Easy Rider. Appearing in movies up until his death from complications from prostate cancer in 2010, he lived his life to the fullest until the last moment, both divorcing his wife and earning a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in his last year on the planet.
Jack Grinnage Most Recently Appeared in The Kids Are Alright
The only surviving member of the main cast, Jack Grinnage, now a nonagenarian, most recently acted in an episode of the ABC series The Kids Are Alright. His previous credits date back to the early 1950s, with appearances that include popular TV shows like Father Knows Best, Gunsmoke, and The Beverly Hillbillies, and more recently Scrubs and Six Feet Under. In Rebel Without a Cause, Grinnage played a minor character named Moose, which was his first ever credit on the silver screen.