Maybe, because after the station wagon finally arrived at the predetermined meeting place, Hickman again warned Dean about the necessity of slowing down. Only this time it was apparent that Hickman had Dean's safety on his mind, something he clearly told the actor, adding that he could hardly see the Spyder because of its color and low height. The vehicle actually seemed to blend in with the silvery gray highway around it.
Yet again, James failed to heed Bill's warning, and when he returned to the Porsche, he rapidly accelerated on the highway in typical fashion. Not wearing his seatbelt, it was about 5:30 when he came to the crossing of highway 466 and 41 at the east of the town Cholame. The area was known as being dangerous, because it harbored a notorious "black spot," yet Dean was driving at about 100 MPH, the sunset bright in his eyes and nearly blinding.
John R. White, was driving on the highway when Dean quickly passed him up, the silver Spyder seeming like a silver bullet zipping across the ribbon of concrete. He also saw the black and white Ford Sedan up ahead that was coming from the opposite direction. Apparently the driver of the 1950 Ford Tudor, Donald Turnupseed, wanted to make a left turn and had to cut across Dean's path.
James also saw the other car. He told WŁtherich, "That guy has to stop!"
did see the Spyder, there was no time to stop.
He tried to do so. Desperately! But even after he had floored the brakes of the Ford, the car continued to roll 30 feet onto the highway. The resulting collision was swift and violent. Though the left front fender of the Ford barely touched the Porsche, it was enough to send the 1,500 pound Spyder 49 feet into the air. Rolf, also not wearing a seatbelt, was brutally ejected from the convertible, his jaw-bone broken and his left thigh-bone shattered.
But James got it much worse.
The Spyder had crushed like a tin-can, burying him in sharp, twisted metal, and he sustained massive head injuries. About an hour later, he died in route to the emergency room, and was later pronounced dead at the Paso Robles Hospital.
Amazingly, Turnupseed survived the accident, yet, he was forever marred by the experience. He spent the rest of his life in Tulare and refused to comment about what happened that horrible night. It would be interesting to know if the Dean "curse" continued to touch his life following the accident...like it had so many others, Rolf WŁtherich included.
Though WŁtherich had survived the accident, he never really fully recuperated physically from the injuries, and after he returned to Germany, he died in 1981, ironically, from a car accident.
Needless to say, like so many others, he probably wished that he had never seen or had anything to do with that car. And even worse, the evil force of the car didn't stop with Dean's death. The "Little Bastard" continued to kill and maim.
The "bad luck" that seemed to virtually exude from the hunk of twisted metal was still alive and well in March, 1959 when a fire broke out in the Fresno garage where it had been stored. But that was just the beginning of the accidents and disasters that would be associated with the vehicle.
A few weeks later, there would be another incident.
In 1959, the Dean mania was still intense, the accident still fresh on everyone's mind. Thus, the California State Highway Patrol had the mangled vehicle transported to local high schools to teach teenagers the importance of safe driving. Since Dean was supposedly driving at between 85-100 MPH during the accident, it seemed that the crushed Porsche would serve as a good example of the dangers of high speed driving.
But they would eventually come to regret that decision. When the Porsche was near Salinas, the vehicle transporting it was involved in a serious accident. The impact was so great that truck driver, George Barhuis, was thrown from the cab. In response, the Porsche rolled off the truck bed, landed on top of him and literally crushed him to death, claiming another victim.
Despite the latest tragedy, the exhibit was, nevertheless, popular. People came in droves to see the James Dean car, and the owner, George Barris (a name that's amazingly similar to that of the car's second victim) decided that the tour would extend to the other states as well.
Of course, there would be another accident.
On September 30, the anniversary of Dean's death, a fifteen-year-old boy became the car's next victim. He was standing about twelve to fifteen feet away from the exhibit, probably staring at it in shock and awe, when three bolts suddenly snapped as if broken by spectral hands. The boy screamed as the car plowed forward and ran over him. Both of the boy's legs were horribly crushed, but he survived.
The next victim would not be so lucky.
A few weeks later the death car was again being transported when it caused yet another mishap. This time, it literally snapped in two, slid from the flatbed of the truck, and met the gray pavement. The wreckage caused another fatal accident before it could be cleared from the roadway.
In 1960, the owner, had finally had enough, and he decided to have the Porsche shipped back home to California for a permanent retirement. The car was loaded into a boxcar in Florida, the door carefully sealed. When the train arrived in LA, the seal on the boxcar door was still intact...yet the Porsche was missing!
Despite the efforts of detectives, the car has never been located. Maybe it returned to the hell from whence it came. Or, could it be in some secret place today...still killing and wounding, and spreading bad luck to all those who encounter it?
Some believe, however, that whatever curse was placed on Dean touched not only his car, but also those he was closest to. All three lead actors from Rebel without a Cause had tragic deaths at a young age. Sal Mineo, one of Dean's best friends, was only 37 in 1975 when he was stabbed to death in West Hollywood Alley. Another friend and co-star of Dean's in the blockbuster movie, Natalie Wood, was only 43 years old when she drowned in a tragic boating accident. Nick Adams, who also played a part in the movie, though it was a bit part, later went on to become "Johnny Reb" in a popular weekly television series;
however, his career came to a quick end when he died at only 36 from an overdose.
Indeed, if Dean and the Porsche were cursed, how did this come about? Who in the world would want to curse the actor anyway? It seemed that everyone loved and adored him, young and old alike.
A lot of people would swear that there wasn't a curse at all, but that there was a malevolent spirit in that Porsche--a spirit that had been there all along. Or the car itself might have been evil, similarly to the Chrysler Fury in Stephen King's Christine.
Others would swear that Dean's death resulted from his involvement in the occult and a flirtation with Satanism, since he was also involved with a witch coven in LA.
Dean supposedly became interested in the occult when he dated Maila Nurmi, an actress who starred in Vampira. Because Dean was afraid that the affair could negatively affect his career, he publicly denied any romantic involvement with Nurmi. In fact, he told gossip columnist Hedda Hoppe that he'd never dated Nurmi.
Rumor has it that Nurmi didn't take this public spurning well, and as a result, she supposedly cast a black magic spell on Dean.
Or was one of the other witches he met responsible?
Whatever killed James Dean, his life and his death is something
that the world will never forget. Andy Warhol said it best in Interview Magazine: "He's not our hero because he was perfect, but because he perfectly represented the damaged, but beautiful soul of his time."
Whatever the source of the appeal, the Dean mania continues, and thousands of
fans who virtually worship the man, meet regularly at his burial site at the
Fairmount Cemetery in Indiana, and there are rumors that the supernatural phenomena concerning James Dean continues.
Many of his fans would swear that James Dean has returned from the grave. And there have been reports of a spectral Porsche cruising the highway in the area where Dean was killed. And exactly where is that Porsche Spyder or...for that matter...James Dean's body? Someone supposedly stole the corpse from the grave, and more recently, his headstone was taken as well, though it was quickly returned. Little wonder that Dean might be disturbed enough to walk the earth again.
But if Dean's spectral image does endlessly wander the California highways, it's more likely that Dean is restless, because he just couldn't accept his
untimely death. Let's hope that soon, he'll find some peace and be able to rest at last...and let's hope that the "Little Bastard" is somewhere where it will never
again do a living soul harm. But considering the car's bloody history, it's
unlikely that it has claimed its last victim.
(Authors Note: There are many sites on the internet about James Dean, but most
of them were created by his fans. When I searched, I didn't find any that had to do with the supernatural aspect of his life and death. There are, however, many good books out there on the subject. One of them, "Who Killed James Dean?"
delves into the strange facts surrounding Dean's death. Jame's Dalton's book, "James Dean: The Mutant King," also covers some of the lesser known facts about the heart
throb's life and death, and about his relationship with Maila Nurmi. Another good source about these strange occurrences is
"The Death of James Dean," by Warren Beath.
Please check out Beath's latest book on the subject--it will give you a most
delightful chill! From the author's own words: "It has everything bizarre of
remotely occult that is connected to James Dean.")