Live As If You’ll Die Today: Lesser-Known Facts About James Dean’s Life

James Dean only lived to be 24-years-old, but he’s still remembered and admired today. In some sense, that’s what he wanted. He didn’t want a long life, he wanted a carefree, exciting experience that people would talk about after he was gone. He wanted to be a great actor and to drive fast cars. Dean did both, and one ended up killing him. His enigmatic personality lit up the Golden Age of Hollywood and broke barriers of what it meant to be a man, post-WW II. He ended up getting what he wanted: a Hollywood star and a daredevil reputation. But here’s what else made him the James Dean we remember.

Dean Could Have Been a Lawyer


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Before he pursued acting, James Dean majored in pre-law at Santa Monica College. He excelled in school and transferred to UCLA. He could have stuck around, graduated, and become a successful lawyer, however, the universe had other plans for him. He changed his major from pre-law to drama.

In his first semester at UCLA, 350 actors applied for the part of Malcolm in Macbeth. Out of all of them, Dean was chosen for the part. By the end of the semester, he decided to drop out of school and pursue acting full-time.