Iconic Photos: The Infamous James Dean Poster

Today we’re starting a series on iconic photographs. Even if you didn’t realize what it was at the time, you have most likely seen the poster of the famous photograph of American film star James Dean before. It’s become an iconic image of not just the actor himself, but also American popular culture and has been reproduced on plenty of different merchandise including posters, t-shirts, mugs, and more.

Where to get the poster

If you’re looking to buy a vintage print of the James Dean poster then eBay is your best bet. With a coupon you can sometimes even get free shipping, which is always nice. Because the  image is no longer in print, you will have to hunt down a used copy of it. However, since the poster was printed pretty widely in the early 90s, many copies are still available in good condition and you can even get one that is framed. Some Etsy sellers have also gotten creative with damaged or less than pristine prints of the poster and turned them into unique pieces of  art. If you’re a big fan of James Dean or buying a gift for someone who is, it’s definitely worth a look. 

History of the image

The actual title of the photograph used for the poster is ‘Boulevard  of Broken Dreams’ and it  depicts actor James Dean walking down a rainy street in New York City in black and white. The lights reflected on the puddles of rain as well as Dean’s pensive expression make it a rather interesting image, and certainly the untimely passing of Dean just a few months after the photo was taken add to the public’s fascination with it. The photograph was taken in 1955 by Dennis Stock, who had also photographed other Hollywood icons of the time like Marilyn Monroe. 

About James Dean

Although Dean only appeared in three movies before his death in 1955, all three became classics with ‘Rebel Without A Cause’ probably being the most popular. The story of a troubled teenager trying to find his place in the world really struck a chord with audiences, and it’s also the film that most of Dean’s famous lines and scenes are from. Prior to that he had starred in East of Eden based on the John Steinbeck novel of the same name, again playing a troubled young man struggling to fit in. His final film, a western epic called ‘Giant’, saw him in  a smaller role but was no less critically-acclaimed. Giant was released after he died, and also featured Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor. 

Sadly, James Dean was only 24 years old when he died in a car accident. He was driving to a racing event in California when he lost control of his car and was fatally injured in the crash. His life being cut so short after showing such early promise is a tragedy. Who knows what other great performances he may have had to offer the world? 

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