He left behind a legacy of teenage rebellion and angst, but there are many who believe he also left a sinister curse, bestowed on the car he died in.
Rebel Without a Cause
However, it is his death and the possible aftermath of that, that has had many paranormal researchers and writers in debate. Many have come to believe that the car Dean was in when he died was cursed, others believe the curse started with the star's death. Whatever the truth, stories of a "curse" have been circulating for the last 50 years, and have been debated and wrote about for just as long.
Bond girl Ursula Andress is said to have refused to ever sit in it, and it is a legendary story in Hollywood that upon meeting Dean outside a restaurant, British actor Alec Guinness, who would later win an Oscar and play Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars trilogy, would apparently feel the car was "sinister" and warn Dean, saying "If you get in that car you will be found dead in it by this time next week."
Many see this as Guinness, on some level, knowing the car was already cursed. If this happened, it would be an eerie prediction of the future, as just a week later Dean would die, in that car, while on his way to Salinas, California.
And so, it was on September 30th, 1955, that Dean and his mechanic were driving to Salinas to drive the Spyder in a number of races. Somewhere along that journey, Dean was booked by police for speeding, which surprised nobody when it came out, as he was regularly seen, as his fame and fortune grew, speeding through the streets of Los Angeles at night, often until sunrise. His mechanic had suggested that he get acquainted with the car before racing it, and it was this suggestion that, perhaps, ultimately caused Dean to collide with another driver turning left at an intersection hours later, causing Dean to die instantly from a number of injuries.
The mechanic and the other driver all suffered injuries and survived. Dean was just 24, and Hollywood and his many fans mourned not only the loss of the star, but the tragic end to a beckoning career. More than 3000 people attended his funeral days later in his hometown.
Two of his performances, in East of Eden and Giant, would gain him posthumous nominations for each for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in 1955 and 1956, becoming the first actor to be nominated after his death.
The Curse Lives On?
Claims also of the wreckage being given to the State Highway Patrol to display in various locations, in an effort to deter speeding, were also told, and it's claimed a number of people, attempting to steal parts of the wreckage, ranging from blood-soaked upholstery to a steering wheel, all suffered horrific injuries. On one occasion a garage holding the wreckage apparently caught fire, and burnt everything within range BUT the Spyder, not even scorching its paint!
A man said to have been given two surviving wheels from the Spyder was said to have had an accident that almost killed him, and the wreckage apparently disappeared at some point after supposedly crushing a truck driver transporting it interstate. Nobody has seen the wreckage since, although parts were rumoured to have been sold on eBay in recent times, and a man claims to have small parts of the original vehicle inserted into a Spyder he has collected, but is aware of the so-called "curse" and refuses to drive it.
Accounts by many who have said to have touched the wreckage claim also they suffered health problems or had serious accidents soon after. It is thought that the Spyder Dean purchased was, at the time, one of five shipped to the U.S.A., and only 90 were ever made according to some sources.
If the Spyder was cursed before Dean got it, how did it start and could all of the vehicles be cursed?
James Dean is said to haunt the highway on which he died on, many claiming to still see his spectre driving the Spyder fast down the highway.
Was a Porsche 550 Spyder cursed by its celebrity owner, who many claim had a death wish?
Or was the sports car already a force of evil, and just happened to participate in ending an idol and his career?
Put together by Ashley Hall 2014