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A Week in the Life of James Dean, or The Force is Strong With This One


What if someone told you that you had one week to live? What would you do? What places would you visit? Would you read any books? Listen to any particular music? Would the common and insignificant things you pass every day become more meaningful? Would that apple taste any better if you know it was your last one? Who would you thank? Who would you apologize to? 
This week fifty-five years ago was the last week in the life of James Dean. He died on September 30, 1955 when his Porsche 550 Spyder crashed head on into a Ford Custom Tudor coupe on US Route 466 near Cholame, California.
He seemed like the type of person who lived life to the fullest and lived every moment like it was his last. 
Interestingly enough, he was warned of his own demise exactly a week before it happened.
On September 23, 1955 Sir Alec Guinness was in California for the first time. Actually he wasn’t Sir Alec Guinness yet. That did not happen until four years later in 1959. In any event, he was in California for the first time and he met up with a female acquaintance for dinner. His acquaintance was wearing trousers that unfortunately prevented their admittance into all the smart Hollywood restaurants they went to. They eventually found themselves at the Villa Capri restaurant, which allowed trousers, but without reservations there were no available tables. Guinness and his companion turned to leave.
They then heard footsteps running up behind them.
As luck would have it, James Dean happened to also be in California, at the very same Villa Capri. He had just wrapped filming Giant. Guinness himself had wrapped four movies that very year: Rowlandson’s England, To Paris with Love, The Prisoner, and The Ladykillers. Dean was at the very same restaurant and he apparently had the foresight to make reservations, for he had a table. He invited Alec Guinness and his companion to join him.
Before they went inside Dean said, “Let me show you something.”
Outside of the restaurant was Dean’s newest vehicular acquisition, a Porsche 550 Spyder. When Dean wasn’t acting he raced cars. He had previously owned a MG TD and a Porsche 356 Speedster and actually placed in a few races. His new Porsche 550 Spyder, one of only 90 made, had the serial number 550-0055 and was nicknamed Little Bastard. Mechanic George Barris, who later went on to design the Batmobile, had customized the Porsche. Apparently Dean had just received the car, as there was a bow around it and roses on the hood.
Guinness looked at the car and was hit with a premonition. He told Dean, “If you get in that car you’ll be dead in it by this time next week.”
One can only imagine what was discussed over dinner.
What book would you read? Who would you thank?
Dean was killed exactly one week later when Little Bastard crashed head on into a Ford Custom Tudor coupe on US Route 466 near Cholame, California.


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In other semi-related

In other semi-related trivia... Cliff Burton of the celebrated metal band Metallica died on this day 1986.... Also a car accident.

James Dean

James Dean was a wonderful young actor. He had a very promising career ahead of him. His success was extraordinary and he personified the typical Actor's Studio method actor. His style of acting was similar to Marlon Brando. Both of them were natural to the point that it never seemed that they were acting. "Giant," which was James Dean's last movie was very successful. It is very unfortunate that Sir Alec Guiness made that prophesy. At times making prophesies becomes like the power of suggestion. Also, it is possible that Sir Alec Guiness sensed a wildness in James Dean, as one would perceive in those who walk tight ropes or dare to climb Mount Everest. Once when I was young I had a dream that one of my friends was in an automobile accident. I awoke crying. I had many times noticed that this girl was a very wild driver. She often drove very fast and did not stop when she came to a corner, but speeded up her driving, like she was on a roller coaster. A few weeks after I had that prophetic dream, she had an accident and had to be in hospital in a neck brace for a long time. I don't think it was only like clairvoyance that I had that dream about her accident. Her reckless driving made it very apparent that it might happen. She recovered and went on to have a happy life.

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