The physical embodiment of all that was slowly boiling beneath the surface of the Eisenhower era, James Dean was — and in many ways, still is — the face of youth rebellion. Granted, his untimely passing at the age of 24 in a car accident helped permanently cement his legacy as the kid with the red leather jacket and the insolent pout. But hey, the Academy gave a posthumous honorary award to Edward G. Robinson, and the organization could have given one to Dean years ago. Maybe such flagrant disregard for authority does have its drawbacks?
Nominations: Two for Best Actor (East of Eden, Giant).
Should Have Won For: Giant.
Maybe This Is All Punishment For: Living fast, dying young, being rude to Jim Backus.