James Dean continues to be a vintage icon with talks of reanimating him for new movies and viral images of him going across the globe. The tragic death of the 24-year-old superstar continues to stir emotions of both young and old.
Why the world still remembers James Dean is hard to pinpoint, having only starred in one movie before his death. Nevertheless, his impact remains and his passing was a precursor to the counter-culture movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
Shortly after wrapping "Giant", his last movie before his death, he returned to his other love, motorsport and racing. With reported ambition of one day competing in the Indianapolis 500 race, Dean’s financial success from East of Eden had allowed him to purchase a Triumph Tiger motorcycle and Porsche 356 Speedster, the latter he traded in on the more powerful convertible Porsche 550 Spyder.
German Porsche-trained mechanic Rolf Wütherich encouraged Dean to drive the Porsche from Los Angeles to Salinas to get a feel for the new automobile, rather than tow it on a trailer behind the Ford station wagon in which he originally planned to make the journey. Dean was ticketed for speeding at 3:30 p.m., just over two hours before his untimely death.
Eventually, Dean was killed when his 550 Spyder collided with a Ford Tudor sedan. His passenger, Wütherich, was badly injured but survived. In the decades since Dean's death, his legacy has only grown. Alongside the many rumors that surrounded his death, the myth of Dean — the man and the actor — only grew as the years passed.
An actor must interpret life,” Dean once said. On screens and in photographs he remains forever on the cusp of adulthood, a representation of anti-establishment teenage disillusionment and social estrangement, an enduring representation generations have looked to as an interpretation and projection of their own inner lives.
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