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The Beach Boys eulogized him in the song, “A Young Man is Gone,” on their 1963 Little Deuce Coupe album and Lou Reed also dedicated “Walk on the Wild Side” to him.
On this day in history, September 30, 1955, James Dean suffered fatal injuries from a head-on car collision near Cholame, California. He was only 24 years old.
The actor, best known for his role as a troubled teenager in “Rebel Without a Cause,” had a reputation as a rebel. He liked to race cars, but he wasn’t actually driving fast when he died in the car accident.
Dean and his mechanic set off in his Porsche 550 Spyder for a car race in Salinas, California. He was driving west on Route 466 near Cholame, when a 23-year-old Cal Poly student, attempted to take the fork onto Route 41 and crossed into Dean’s lane without seeing him. The two cars collided nearly head-on.
Dean’s mechanic was thrown from the car and survived with only a broken jaw. According to two CHP officers, Dean was still breathing as he was put into the ambulance, but he was declared DOA at Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital.
Dean’s last words, spoken right before impact, were: “That guy’s gotta stop. He’ll see us.” Dean’s Spyder was only going 55 mph. The other driver survived the crash with only a gash on his forehead and was not cited by police.
At the 50th anniversary of Dean’s death in 2005, a memorial was created near the crash site in Cholame. It was a stainless steel and concrete sculpture around a Tree of Life, a tree that symbolizes that all life on our planet is interconnected. There’s a Chinese philosophy that the Tree of Life produces a peach every 3,000 years, and the one who eats it will live for eternity.
Because Dean died so young, he lives on as a cultural icon, representing young people who consider themselves “rebels.” There are many James Dean images today on posters, T-shirts, and even lapel pins, that make him live on in eternity.
For help in creating a lapel pin that will always be remembered, contact the professionals at The Monterey Company at 877-000-0000.