As the lonely teen Plato in Rebel Without a Cause, Sal Mineo reminded the film’s director, Nicholas Ray, of his own son“only prettier.” Ray’s screen test of Mineo, James Dean and Natalie Wood, his Rebel leads, pulses with sexual heat between the two male stars. Audiences in 1955 might not have realized it, but Plato was the movies’ first gay teenager.

Let these facts sink in: James Dean starred in only three movies, his Hollywood career lasting just 18 months. He was already dead when Rebel Without a Cause and Giant were released. Yet 60 years after his death in 1955, the actor from Fairmount, Indiana, is still one of the most instantly recognizable stars in movie history. The celebrated images of Dean captured by such photographers as Roy Schatt, Dennis Stock and Sanford Roth are what have ensured his immortality. As Schatt once fittingly said, he hoped his photographs of Dean would “transmit a glimpse of his most insistent, and perhaps eternal, presence.”