james dean car crash

james dean car crash

James Dean Car Crash

For James Dean fans it has been the ultimate unsolved riddle. Just who was behind the wheel the day the actor, only 24, died?For 50 years, since his death in a car crash on September 30, 1955, Dean has been portrayed as a daredevil driver whose speeding and recklessness on the road caused his own death. Now, new evidence has emerged proving that not only was Dean driving safely, but at a much lower speed than was believed at the time. It has long been part of Hollywood lore that Dean, with his passion for fast cars and reputation for rebellious behaviour, was driving his high-powered Porsche Spyder 550 when he and Rolf Weutherich, a mechanic, smashed into another car on a Californian highway. Related Articles A ground-breaking documentary by Channel 5, however, has unearthed evidence that Dean, contrary to what was said at the inquest into his death, was travelling at just over 70mph, up to 20mph slower than was claimed. It reveals that Dean braked hard, trying to avoid the car that cut across him, rather than using the throttle to accelerate around it, as was alleged at the time.Using sophisticated computer technology, the documentary concludes that it was indeed Dean who was behind the wheel. But while the evidence seems concrete, the last surviving witness to the crash, Don Dooley, still insists that it was Weutherich, the mechanic, who was driving, not Dean himself.Dean, who died from a broken neck and massive internal injuries, had made just three films before he died and only East of Eden had been released. But his tragic death made him front page news and when Rebel Without a Cause came out a month after his death he became – and remains – an American icon, his moody good looks and his rebellious disdain for authority defining the youth of post-war America. He died while still filming Giant but its release confirmed his star status.Mr Dooley, now 65, was 15 when he saw Dean’s frail Porsche demolished, leaving it little more than a mangled mass of metal. It was so badly damaged that police officers at the scene described it as “looking like it exploded”. Mr Dooley and his brother-in-law narrowly avoided being caught up in the crash. When Dean’s car finally came to a standstill Mr Dooley ran over to help. “James Dean was sitting on the left side facing us, on the passenger side,” he insists “The man in the plaid shirt, the mechanic, was doing the driving.” The programme makers, however, using sophisticated modern technology, have now determined that Dean’s body, which took the full force of the impact, was pushed into the passenger’s seat by the other car in the collision, Donald Turnupseed’s coupe.At the inquest Mr Dooley’s account was discounted; he was told he had an “untrained eye”. But despite the new evidence, he is still convinced it was not the Hollywood legend who was driving that day. “That is what I saw,” he says. “The things I say, I say truthfully out of memory. I have nothing to gain by lying about it.”The inquest findings were confusing, complicated by conflicting testimonies. But Mr Turnupseed was exonerated, leaving Dean as the one who most likely caused the crash.The one person who could have solved the enduring mystery, the mechanic Weutherich, was too badly injured to attend the inquest. When he recovered he returned to his native Germany and never spoke of the crash. He died in another car crash in 1981.Dean’s death transformed his status from that of a promising young actor into an enduring icon. But he is often remembered as much for his reckless passion for speed as for his film career.Many at the time thought the Porsche Spyder was too high-powered for him and, indeed, days before he died Alec Guinness, the actor, had a premonition that he would die behind its wheel. Dean had bumped into Guinness at the Villa Capri, a local Hollywood hangout. He was so proud of the car that he insisted upon showing it to Guinness.Dean, a self-confessed speed freak, laughed off the suggestion. There was no way he could have known that Guinness’s warning would become a chillingly reality.• The Day That James Dean Died will be aired on Channel 5 on Wednesday.
james dean car crash 1

James Dean Car Crash

A ground-breaking documentary by Channel 5, however, has unearthed evidence that Dean, contrary to what was said at the inquest into his death, was travelling at just over 70mph, up to 20mph slower than was claimed. It reveals that Dean braked hard, trying to avoid the car that cut across him, rather than using the throttle to accelerate around it, as was alleged at the time.Using sophisticated computer technology, the documentary concludes that it was indeed Dean who was behind the wheel. But while the evidence seems concrete, the last surviving witness to the crash, Don Dooley, still insists that it was Weutherich, the mechanic, who was driving, not Dean himself.Dean, who died from a broken neck and massive internal injuries, had made just three films before he died and only East of Eden had been released. But his tragic death made him front page news and when Rebel Without a Cause came out a month after his death he became – and remains – an American icon, his moody good looks and his rebellious disdain for authority defining the youth of post-war America. He died while still filming Giant but its release confirmed his star status.Mr Dooley, now 65, was 15 when he saw Dean’s frail Porsche demolished, leaving it little more than a mangled mass of metal. It was so badly damaged that police officers at the scene described it as “looking like it exploded”. Mr Dooley and his brother-in-law narrowly avoided being caught up in the crash. When Dean’s car finally came to a standstill Mr Dooley ran over to help. “James Dean was sitting on the left side facing us, on the passenger side,” he insists “The man in the plaid shirt, the mechanic, was doing the driving.” The programme makers, however, using sophisticated modern technology, have now determined that Dean’s body, which took the full force of the impact, was pushed into the passenger’s seat by the other car in the collision, Donald Turnupseed’s coupe.At the inquest Mr Dooley’s account was discounted; he was told he had an “untrained eye”. But despite the new evidence, he is still convinced it was not the Hollywood legend who was driving that day. “That is what I saw,” he says. “The things I say, I say truthfully out of memory. I have nothing to gain by lying about it.”The inquest findings were confusing, complicated by conflicting testimonies. But Mr Turnupseed was exonerated, leaving Dean as the one who most likely caused the crash.The one person who could have solved the enduring mystery, the mechanic Weutherich, was too badly injured to attend the inquest. When he recovered he returned to his native Germany and never spoke of the crash. He died in another car crash in 1981.Dean’s death transformed his status from that of a promising young actor into an enduring icon. But he is often remembered as much for his reckless passion for speed as for his film career.Many at the time thought the Porsche Spyder was too high-powered for him and, indeed, days before he died Alec Guinness, the actor, had a premonition that he would die behind its wheel. Dean had bumped into Guinness at the Villa Capri, a local Hollywood hangout. He was so proud of the car that he insisted upon showing it to Guinness.Dean, a self-confessed speed freak, laughed off the suggestion. There was no way he could have known that Guinness’s warning would become a chillingly reality.• The Day That James Dean Died will be aired on Channel 5 on Wednesday.
james dean car crash 2

James Dean Car Crash

Purportedly, James Dean had been given the nickname “Little Bastard” by Bill Hickman, a Warner Bros. stunt driver who became friendly with Dean. Hickman was part of Dean’s group driving to the Salinas Road Races on September 30, 1955. Hickman says he called Dean “little bastard”, and Dean called Hickman “big bastard.” Another version of the “Little Bastard” origin has been corroborated by two of Dean’s close friends, Lew Bracker, and photographer, Phil Stern. They believe Jack L. Warner of Warner Bros. had once referred to Dean as a little bastard after Dean refused to vacate his temporary East of Eden trailer on the studio’s lot. And Dean wanted to get ‘even’ with Warner by naming his race car “Little Bastard” and to show Warner that despite his sports car racing ban during all filming, Dean was going to be racing the “Little Bastard” in between making movies for Warner Bros. When Dean introduced himself to British actor Alec Guinness outside the Villa Capri restaurant in Hollywood, he asked him to take a look at his brand new Porsche Spyder. Guinness thought the car appeared ‘sinister’ and told Dean: “If you get in that car, you will be found dead in it by this time next week.” This encounter took place on September 23, 1955, seven days before Dean’s death.

James Dean Car Crash

James Dean Car Crash
James Dean Car Crash
James Dean Car Crash
James Dean Car Crash

Published on Jul 30, 2017 | Under Car | By michael ellis
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