The American Teenager: Natalie Wood

“Rebel Without a Cause” defined both popular and youth culture upon its release in 1955, giving voice to the American teenager of the 1950’s. Even though Wood has starred in 20 films before turning 16, she is desperate to transition to adult roles. She sees the part of Judy as her ticket into adulthood. Complicating matters is that every actress from Debbie Reynolds to Jayne Mansfield is being considered for the role. Wood's mother pushes her into "dating" the 44-year-old "Rebel" director, Nicholas Ray - her mother waits in the car during Wood and Ray's romps at the Chateau Marmont. Sleeping with the director doesn't even work! It's not until a drunken car crash on Laurel Canyon with Dennis Hopper that Ray to cast considers Wood for the role. Ray visits Wood at the hospital, where the doctor calls Wood a "goddamn juvenile delinquent." Wood yells: "Did you hear what he called me, Nick? He called me a goddamn juvenile delinquent! Now do I get the part?" Wood deserves the credit for transforming Ray’s vision of Wood’s character Judy from a trashy teen to a confused, hurt kid like Wood herself.

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Seeing Stars

"There's the Hollywood sign; there's Griffith Observatory; there's the great, amazing Los Angeles Basin. It's 465 square miles of insanity and the best food on the planet." -Robert Crais 

James Dean on the set of “Rebel Without a Cause” at the Griffith Observatory.

James Dean on the set of “Rebel Without a Cause” at the Griffith Observatory.