James Dean was one of the most well known actors of the 1950's and his sexuality on-screen influenced many actors after him and even through today. He was born in Marion, Indiana, in 1931, but moved to Los Angeles with his family four years later. His mother died in 1940, and he then went to live with his aunt and uncle back in Indiana until 1949.
When he was drafted, it is rumored that he was not because he said, "You can't draft me, I'm homosexual."
His homosexuality was a constant question to many people, and his relationship with Pier Angeli in 1954 "may have been because the publicity department at Warner Brothers. and Jimmy's handlers wanted to see Jimmy as virile, macho, and heterosexual."
He returned to Los Angeles in 1949 and spent some time at UCLA and may have interacted with the Hollywood homosexual clique at that time. He started to get small acting jobs around Hollywood, and then moved to New York in 1951.
He started out on Broadway in See the Jaguar, and then was cast in many television shows during the year of 1953. In 1954, he returned to Los Angeles and starred in East of Eden and then went on to play Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause and then Giant.
He was killed in a car crash in 1955, before his last two movies were even released, at age 24.