James Dean: Stories Of The Legendary Actor You Haven't Heard Yet

By | February 5, 2020

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James Dean driving a convertible with the roof down. 1950s (Photo by Mondadori via Getty Images)

Rakish and silent, James Dean was an actor who defined a generation with only a handful of roles. While he’s stellar in East of Eden (1955) and Giant (1956), his most important role came in Rebel Without a Cause (1955), the first film to really understand teenage life. Even though he was a heartthrob, there was more to the actor than his brooding good looks. Dean’s life was a series of attempts to escape, first from his tumultuous childhood and then from the star machine that he found himself in following his move to Hollywood. During his brief film career he rubbed elbows with cult celebrities like Vampira and stars like Alec Guinness while drag racing and trying his best to lead a regular love life.

Alec Guinness predicted Dean’s death

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source: Best Ride

Long before Guinness was the wizened Obi-Wan Kenobi he was one of the most respected British actors of his time. James Dean was a huge fan of Guinness’ work, and on September 23, 1955, the young actor tracked him down on the sidewalk to show off his new car, a Porsche Spyder nicknamed “Little Bastard.” Guinness explained:

There in the courtyard of this little restaurant was this little silver thing, very smart, all done up in cellophane with a bunch of roses tied to its bonnet. I said, 'Have you driven it?' and he said, 'No. I have never been in it at all.’ And some strange thing came over me. Some almost different voice and I said, 'Look, I won't join your table unless you want me to, but I must say something: Please do not get into that car, because if you do' — and I looked at my watch — and I said, 'if you get into that car at all, it's now Thursday (Friday, actually), 10 o'clock at night and by 10 o'clock at night next Thursday, you'll be dead if you get into that car.'

A week later Dean passed away when he crashed Little Bastard while speeding down the highway.