Paso Robles, CA James Dean Killed in Car Crash, Sept 1955

James Dean on the set of Giant, photo from Wikipedia.org James Dean Car after accident.jpg James Dean Car Wreck.jpg James Dean Intersection of accident.jpg James Dean Marker at wreck site.jpg

Star James Dean Killed In Crash

HOLLYWOOD, Oct. 1 -- (AP) -- Actor JAMES DEAN, the surly, brooding Caleb of the movie "East of Eden," was killed last night in a head-on highway crash of his German sports car near Paso Robles, Calif.

The 24-year-old actor, often compared to Marlon Brando, was driving to a road race in Salinas, the location site for the movie which catapulted him to stardom.

DEAN, an enthusiastic amateur sports car racer, was the second young Hollywood leading man killed recently. ROBERT FRANCIS the "Willie Keith" of "The Caine Mutiny," died July 31 in a plane crash at Burbank, Calif.

The California Highway Patrol said a car driven by DONALD TURNUPSEED, 23, of Tulare turned left off Highway 466 onto Highway 41 and collided almost head-on with DEAN'S Porsche Spyder.

TURNUPSEED, a student at California Polytechnic College at San Luis Obispo suffered minor injuries.

Ambulance driver PAUL MORENO said the Indiana-born actor was still alive when taken from the wreckage but died en route to the War Memorial Hospital in Paso Robles. DEAN suffered multiple fractures of both arms and internal injuries.
DEAN'S mechanic, ROLPH WUETHERICH, 27, of Hollywood, was seriously injured.
Warner Brothers had forbidden their young star to drive the car while working on a movie. He had finished "Giant," the movie version of Edna Ferbar's novel only this week.]

Oakland Tribune California 1955-10-01


Longing to return to the "liberating prospects" of motor racing, Dean was scheduled to compete at a racing event in Salinas, California on September 30, 1955. Accompanying the actor to the occasion was stunt coordinator Bill Hickman, Collier's photographer Sanford Roth, and Rolf Wütherich, the German mechanic from the Porsche factory who maintained Dean's Porsche 550 Spyder "Little Bastard" car. Wütherich, who had encouraged Dean to drive the car from Los Angeles to Salinas to break it in, accompanied Dean in the Porsche. At 3:30 p.m., both Dean and Hickman, who were driving behind the Porsche, were ticketed for speeding.