DEAD CELEB OF THE WEEK: JAMES DEAN (1931-1955)

Born: February 8, 1931
Died: September 30, 1955
deadncrashThe giant screen icon’s last words?  “That guy’s gotta stop. He’ll see us.”
Yeah right.
On September 30, Dean and his mechanic took off in the actor’s custom-made Porsche Spyder 550 headed for a car race at Salinas, California. At 3:30 p.m., Dean was ticketed in Kern County for doing 65 miles-per-hour in a 55 miles-per-hour zone. After stopping at Blackwell’s Corner in Lost Hills for fuel, Dean was driving west on U.S. Route 466 near Cholame, California, when a black-and-white 1950 Ford Custom Tudor coupe, driven from the opposite direction by 23-year-old Cal Poly student Donald Turnupseed, attempted to take the fork onto  State Route 41.
The late-afternoon sun blinded him, and he crossed into Dean’s lane without seeing him; the two cars hit almost head-on. A heavily-breathing Dean, almost decapitated in the crash, was placed into an ambulance and taken to Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival at 5:59 p.m. Turnupseed received a gashed forehead and bruised nose and was not cited by police for the accident. “I didn’t see them, I swear I didn’t,” he moaned again and again.
The day before Dean’s death, Hollywood writer James Bacon recalls seeing the actor doing 80 miles an hour on a Los Angeles street before screeching to a halt. As the actor got out of his Porsche Spyder, Bacon said, “Jimmy, that’s a good way to keep from growing old.”
Dean shot back: “Who wants to grow old?”
Perhaps even more ironic: During the filming of Giant, Dean filmed a short promotional interview with actor Gig Young about the dangers of speeding. “The lives you might save might be mine,” he ad-libbed. The footage, part of a Warner Bros. shorts series, never aired, but is one of the more popular YouTube destinations.

Want more? Buy the book.
Morbid Curiosity, By Alan W. Petrucelli

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