James Dean was the epitome of cool. Sadly – his life ended to soon.
At 5:45 PM on this day in 1955, 24-year-old actor James Dean is killed in Cholame, California, when the Porsche he is driving hits a Ford Tudor sedan at an intersection. The driver of the other car, 23-year-old California Polytechnic State University student Donald Turnupseed, was dazed but mostly uninjured; Dean’s passenger, German Porsche mechanic Rolf Wütherich was badly injured but survived. Only one of Dean’s movies, “East of Eden,” had been released at the time of his death (“Rebel Without a Cause” and “Giant” opened shortly afterward), but he was already on his way to superstardom--and the crash made him a legend.
I usually do not believe in Movie Stars influencing people with their image…..but ever there was one who did, it as James Dean. I wonder how many kids took up smoking to look as cool as he did.
As a side note, I would like to thank my Sophomore High School Teacher – Mr. Robert Ort, for introducing me to James Dean, Bartleby the Scrivener and the true meaning of being Sophomoric. I don’t know where he is now – but I am pretty sure he has passed on. Wherever he is, I hope he remembers Eddie the Bell (“Ding Ding”) and smiles.