From James Dean to Paul Newman?

I was reading a general overview of James Dean’s life on, but the blurb was to be continued on the next screen, but it didn’t. It cut off right when the article was saying something implying the short career and tragic death of James Dean somehow gave rise to Paul Neumann’s career. Is that correct? Maybe a movie buff SDoper can fill me in!

Found this on Newman’s IMDB page:

All right then, say Dean didn’t die in his car and made Somebody Up There Likes Me and* The Left Handed Gun*. What other movies would he have made up to his death this year?

Another path to follow in both Dean’s and Newman’s careers is how both of them were in Brando’s shadow. Most young actors were! The sullen brooding look was a dominant feature in many of the 20-30 year olds of that period.

Add, if you will, to these lists of look-alikes or act-alikes:


Burt Reynolds
Don Stroud
Jean Paul Belmondo
Mark Ruffalo
Robert De Niro


Robert Culp
Steve McQueen
Robert Vaughn
Michael Parks
Tommy Sands
James Franco
Steven McHattie

In the late 50’s and early 60’s it served actors well to resemble the giants of the era. Elvis had many look-alikes as well.

Who can say? He was troubled youth in Rebel and Eden, and troubled adult in Giant. That he was in line for those two other roles makes me think he was already typecast.

He could have done Splendor in the Grass, but again, troubled youth/adult.

I just can’t picture him as a mature actor, able to do a range of roles, which would include romance, comedy, adventure, action, westerns, war movies.

Maybe some Montgomery Clift roles would have suited him, but he was always gonna look twenty years old. Giving him some gray hair in Giant didn’t age him at all.

Maybe he beats out Anthony Perkins for Psycho? Maybe he gets David Janssen’s career, playing The Fugitive before asking John Wayne all those irritating questions in The Green Berets and so on? That said, I guess you could do worse than Bradford Dillman.

Just catching up on some threads…thanks!


Dean had a career disadvantage that Newman did not: He was gay

Not closeted Rock Hudson-style “gay”, but openly so at a time when it would have been a career killer for him. The tabloids had left Dean alone for the most part; but had he lived and his star began to rise, they would have been all over his personal life like piranhas and his career would have tanked.

Looking back at Dean’s peers, the only one who had a substantial career for the majority of his entire life was Dennis Hopper. And even he fell upon hard times from the mid 1970s until his career was revitalized by Blue Velvet. Tab Hunter, Sal Mineo, Nick Adams and even Natalie Woods all either flamed out early, died or were reduced to secondary acting roles.

While Dean may have gotten a few more major roles had he lived, a more realistic career arc would have been him ascending until the late 1950s and then being outed and his career fizzling, Or he would be a star until tastes changed in the late 1960s when Method actors were starting to appear and he would have been moved to television or foreign productions.