Hoosier Hall of Fame: Battle of the Hollywood Hunks
James Dean vs. Steve McQueen. A skirmish in which we’re all winners.
This story is part of Indianapolis Monthly’s 2016 Indiana Bicentennial coverage, which includes our list of the 200 Hoosier Hall of Fame picks, designated throughout in bold or highlighted. For more on this celebration of the state’s first two centuries, click here.
These two Hoosier heartthrob actors lived fast, died (relatively) young, and had a lot in common—including a dream car.
James Dean vs. Steve McQueen
CLAIM TO FAME
Dean: Film’s go-to angry young man in the 1950s whose life was cut short in a car wreck
McQueen: Tougher-than-thou hero of 1960s action flicks and war movies who drove in one of the most famous film car-chases ever (in Bullitt)
Dean: Born in Marion in 1931, Dean moved to Santa Monica, then was raised by family in Fairmount from the age of 9. Dreamed of racing in the 500.
McQueen: Born in Beech Grove in 1930, McQueen grew up there until he was 3. Though he moved to Missouri after that, he did come back to live in Indianapolis from ages 8 to 9.
Dean: East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, Giant
McQueen: The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, The Getaway
Dean: His other four films, featuring an uncredited Dean in tiny roles
McQueen: The Blob; Baby, the Rain Must Fall
Dean: Pier Angeli, Ursula Andress
McQueen: Ali MacGraw, Lauren Hutton
Dean: His funeral in 1955 at the Fairmount Friends Church drew an estimated 3,000 mourners. John Mellencamp name-checked him in the lyrics to “Jack & Diane.” You can visit his grave, museum, and annual festival (September 22–25, 2016), complete with look-alike contest, in Fairmount.
McQueen: The Steve McQueen Birthplace Collection of movies and biographies was dedicated at the Beech Grove Public Library in 2010.