He was a great athlete and student in high school and when he graduated he moved to California to attend college and live with his dad and stepmom. If he could do anything he wanted in life, he would've been a professional racecar driver but he decided to study law in order to make a living. He began getting bored with the Law curriculum and fell in love with drama so he quit college to pursue acting full time. Of course as with most actors, he had to do whatever necessary to stay afloat financially, so he parked cars at CBS studios while also attending a professional acting school.
He was quickly picked up for a Pepsi Commercial and then had bit parts on a few television shows. Then somebody floated his name for the leading role in a feature film. The film's director was looking for someone like Brando but he said he'd meet the kid as a favor. On a personal level, he didn't like the young actor because he was moody and acted like he didn't care if he got the part. But the director decided to go with him because he was a perfect fit for the character in the film. The movie was "East of Eden" and it became a huge hit. This was one of the movies for which he received a posthumous Academy Award.
He became an instant heartthrob and was on the cover of all the Hollywood magazines. The movie studio jumped on this momentum and cast him in two other movies with one becoming a huge box office success. He did three movies in 18 months.
Drugs and alcohol have brought many a famous actor or musician down but not this time. It was because he couldn't let go of his dream of driving racecars. He competed on his free time and had just picked up a new car from the Porsche automotive company, that he was going to enter into a race. He wasn't racing the car at the time, but was driving it to a race when a car pulled out in front of him and he was driving over the speed limit and couldn't stop in time. There was another vehicle following him from the race team and both he and the driver of the other car had received speeding tickets before the crash.
They pronounced him dead at the hospital. It was 1955 and he was just 24 when he died. I'm sure you've figured out by now that I'm writing about James Dean and the second huge movie hit was "Rebel Without a Cause," where he won yet another posthumous Academy Award. His life light burnt amazingly bright if only for a short period in time.