James Dean, 62 Years After His Death - Biography

James Dean, 62 Years After His Death

On September 30, 1955 James Dean died in a high-speed car crash at the age of 24. Even today, 62 years after his death, he continues to be immortalized around the world.
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"If a man can bridge the gap between life and death, if he can live on after he's dead, then maybe he was a great man," James Dean once said. It appears the world thinks Dean was a great man.

After the actor's death in 1955, Dean was immortalized as a Hollywood icon — a symbol of brooding, restless rebellious youth in post-war America. He had been filming Giant at the time his Porsche 550 Spyder (nicknamed Little Bastard) fatally collided with another car off a California highway. The driver of that car, as well as Dean's mechanic, who was accompanying him to an auto race in Salinas, both survived the crash. Dean had only completed two other films, East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause, both released the same year he died.

Dean's funeral was held at a church in Fairmount, Indiana on October 8, 1955 with 600 hundred mourners in attendance. Another 2,400 fans gathered near the procession to pay their respects.

Even today, passersby leave beer bottles, sunglasses, cigarettes, and other paraphernalia at the spot where he died as homage to the actor. The area has been renamed James Dean Memorial Junction, but local authorities say they have issues with the signage repeatedly being stolen.

James Dean crash site

Fans gather at the crash site where James Dean died at Intersection 41 and 46 H.