Three shining stars...one iconic film. Natalie Wood, James Dean, and Sal Mineo, all three amazing young thespians with the intensity and acting chops to rival the most seasoned stage veteran. But sadly, all three died young; with James Dean dying extremely young.
Natalie Wood had a long career than spanned her entire short life, and she starred in some of Hollywood's greatest and heartwarming classics like Miracle on 34th Street and West Side Story. I love Natalie Wood. She's what I would call the smart, pretty girl next door, and her charm remained relevant throughout her career. She had love, she had children, and she was adored. And she might still be working today, if she hadn't passed from an accidental drowning at the age of 43.
James Dean was destine to be one the greatest actors to grace the silver screen; but fate took him away far too soon, at the young age of 24. Watching a James Dean film is really something. Dean was good, and I mean good. His beats were amazing, possibly the best I've ever seen. Watching him deliver lines is like watching an energetic dance. The emotion is there and it's raw. Simply put, he was natural talent personified.
Natalie Wood once said of Sal Mineo, "I'd hate to be taxed a nickel for every heart he's going to break". A beautiful boy, Sal was also a promising young actor. He got his start on the New York stage in the Tennessee Williams play, The Rose Tattoo, and opposite Yul Brenner in The King and I. He had the kind of intensity that you seldom find in such a young actor, and it earned him two Oscar nominations and a Golden Globe win all before the age of 22. In 1959, he delivered an electrifying performance as the title character in The Gene Krupa Story...the movie is a must see and I recommend it. In the 1960's Sal became one of the first actors to publicly acknowledge his homosexuality. Coincidentally his career starts to decline as studio heads do not consider him "fit" for leading roles. In the 1970's, Mineo produced and starred in gay related stage plays and his career began to see a positive turn around. But unfortunately, Sal Mineo was murdered in 1976 at the age of 37.
Three young talents seemingly wise beyond their years all left an amazing body of work behind that generations of youngsters can enjoy and relate to for years to come. Do yourself a favor, rent Rebel Without a Cause, pop some Jiffy Pop popcorn (on the stove), have a Friday movie night in and relive those teenangster years that seem like only yesterday!