Thursday, January 14, 2010

Death of James Dean

British actor Alec Guinness, recalling a meeting in 1955 with actor James Dean, shortly after Guinness' arrival in California to make his first Hollywood film. From Alec Guinness, Blessings in Disguise (Pleasantville NY: Akadine Press, 2001), pp. 14-15—

[Unable to find a table at a Los Angeles restaurant with his friend and scriptwriter (and later, psychologist and parapsychologist) Thelma Moss, Guinness and she were walking off when a young man came running after them.] "You want a table?," he asked. "Join me. My name is James Dean." We followed him gratefully, but on the way back to the restaurant he turned into a car-park, saying, "I'd like to show you something." Among the other cars there was what looked like a large, shiny, silver parcel wrapped in cellophane. "It's just been delivered," he said, with bursting pride. "I haven't even driven it yet."…"How fast is it?" I asked. "She'll do a hundred and fifty," he replied. Exhausted, hungry, feeling ill-tempered in spite of Dean's kindness, I heard myself saying in a voice I could hardly recognize as my own, "Please, never get in it." I looked at my watch. "It is now ten o'clock, Friday the 23rd of September, 1955. If you get in that car you will be found dead in it by this time next week." He laughed. "Oh, shucks! Don't be so mean!" I apologized for what I had said, explaining it was lack of sleep and food…At four o'clock in the afternoon of the following Friday James Dean was dead, killed while driving the car.