James Dean & Marilyn Monroe

These two people are still very famous

They are popular motifs on posters even today and most people know about them I presume

Could you still call them American icons or are they just memorabilia from the 1950s?

Were they truly great actors and were their films any good, or did they just have charismatic looks ?

They can’t really be purely iconic, because they ‘died early’… which clouds the mirror-glass. Monroe is more iconic, because of a wider body-of-work and had an affair with a US-President who ‘died early’. They were great actors, from the studio-system style of developing talent.

They’re more legends than icons maybe?

Dean was also a method actor I think, a younger version of Marlon Brando


Have never understood why Dean is a legend / icon…

I think their death played a large part in creating their iconic status, same like Bruce Lee, Jim Morrison, Elvis, Jimmy Hendrix etc…

The legend grew and became even bigger after they died than when they were alive. I’m not sure about Marilyn but I know that James Dean could really act.

Interesting tidbit, apparently Marilyn suffered from constipation and shit the sheets when she died. That is why when the police came they found her maid changing the sheets.

Of course James Dean got killed when he crashed his car

The others you mention died of drug use or pills or related causes, including Monroe although some say she was murdered

Right place, right face, right time

He could act, like Elvis could sing, but he wasn’t the greatest actor in the world, like Elvis wasn’t the greatest singer. But Elvis had a few hits in key moments, when the world was crying for an idol, he filled a niche, so to speak. Dean was in a few key movies, Rebel without a Cause being the most important, the film expressed the feelings of a generation, another example of a niche that was filled.

And then their death, and the circumstances around it, did the rest.

That’s a great photo Lindberg; thanks for posting it.

I think the other posters are right when they say the two were in the right place at the right time, but then isn’t that true of all icons? Monroe might not have been a great serious actress, but she was very good in comedies.

Always forget about this.