James Dean and “Little Bastard”
Almost 60 years ago Hollywood star James Dean was killed while
driving his Porsche 550 Spyder, cutting short a promising career.
He left behind a legacy of teenage rebellion and angst, but
there are many who believe he also left a sinister curse, bestowed on the car
he died in.
James Dean in a promotional shot for ‘Rebel Without a Cause’.
When many think of Hollywood in its “Golden Age”, a number of
names may come to mind. Brando, Taylor, Monroe, Hitchcock, Sinatra and Disney.
All are legends of classic cinema, as well as many others. One name though
stands out for a number of reasons, mainly due to the fact that his career was
short, and the legacy he left behind eternal. His name was James Dean. Starring
in just three major motion pictures, Dean stamped himself, through his fame,
his enigmatic personality and popularity, as an icon, an embodiment of
rebellion and non-conformity, of teenage trauma and confusion.
However, it is his death and the possible aftermath of that,
that has had many paranormal researchers and writers in debate. Many have come
to believe that the car Dean was in when he died was cursed, others believe the
curse started with the star’s death. Whatever the truth, stories of a “curse”
have been circulating for the last 50 years, and have been debated and wrote
about for just as long.
The moody, impulsive and reckless heart-throb already had a
reputation for being difficult and many of his peers and Hollywood Elite
started calling him “Little Bastard”, however it is claimed it was a personal
moniker bestowed by his mechanic. Either way, it would be the name painted on a
Porsche 550 Spyder that Dean would acquire while filming his 3rd and final film
‘Giant’, and many who looked at it felt strange feelings about the vehicle.
Bond girl Ursula Andress is said to have refused to ever sit in
it, and it is a legendary story in Hollywood that upon meeting Dean outside a
restaurant, British actor Alec Guinness, who would later win an Oscar and play
Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars trilogy, would apparently feel the car was
“sinister” and warn Dean, saying “If you get in that car you will be found dead
in it by this time next week.”
Many see this as Guinness, on some level, knowing the car was
already cursed. If this happened, it would be an eerie prediction of the
future, as just a week later Dean would die, in that car, while on his way to
Many were aware of the troubled actor’s fascination with sports
cars and knew he had participated in races. Warner Brothers Studios had, while
he was filming ‘Giant’, forbid him from racing, however the actor, upon
completing filming, decided to end his break from racing and, defying studio
executives, planned to return to the race track. Many were also aware of his
fascination with witchcraft and the Macabre, and on several occasions he told
friends he felt he would die young.
And so, it was on September 30th, 1955, that Dean and his
mechanic were driving to Salinas to drive the Spyder in a number of races.
Somewhere along that journey, Dean was booked by police for speeding, which
surprised nobody when it came out, as he was regularly seen, as his fame and fortune
grew, speeding through the streets of Los Angeles at night, often until
sunrise. His mechanic had suggested that he get acquainted with the car before
racing it, and it was this suggestion that, perhaps, ultimately caused Dean to
collide with another driver turning left at an intersection hours later,
causing Dean to die instantly from a number of injuries.
The mechanic and the other driver all suffered injuries and
survived. Dean was just 24, and Hollywood and his many fans mourned not only
the loss of the star, but the tragic end to a beckoning career. More than 3000
people attended his funeral days later in his hometown.
Two of his performances, in East of Eden and Giant, would gain
him posthumous nominations for each for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a
Leading Role in 1955 and 1956, becoming the first actor to be nominated after
Over the years stories have circulated of eerie events that have
apparently occurred surrounding parts of the Spyder. A man is claimed to have
purchased the wreckage, and sold various parts off. Two doctors, who were also
racing enthusiasts, are said to have purchased a rear engine that survived the
crash, and the other doctor was said to have acquired smaller parts. Both
doctors participated in the same race against one another 13 months after Dean
died, and both had accidents in that race, one walking away severely injured
and the other being killed instantly after smashing into a tree. He was also
driving a Spyder.
Claims also of the wreckage being given to the State Highway
Patrol to display in various locations, in an effort to deter speeding, were
also told, and it’s claimed a number of people, attempting to steal parts of
the wreckage, ranging from blood-soaked upholstery to a steering wheel, all suffered
horrific injuries. On one occasion a garage holding the wreckage apparently
caught fire, and burnt everything within range BUT the Spyder, not even
scorching its paint!
A man said to have been given two surviving wheels from the
Spyder was said to have had an accident that almost killed him, and the
wreckage apparently disappeared at some point after supposedly crushing a truck
driver transporting it interstate. Nobody has seen the wreckage since, although
parts were rumored to have been sold on eBay in recent times, and a man claims
to have small parts of the original vehicle inserted into a Spyder he has
collected, but is aware of the so-called “curse” and refuses to drive it.
Accounts by many who have said to have touched the wreckage
claim also they suffered health problems or had serious accidents soon after.
It is thought that the Spyder Dean purchased was, at the time, one of five
shipped to the U.S.A., and only 90 were ever made according to some sources.
If the Spyder was cursed before Dean got it, how did it start
and could all of the vehicles be cursed?
James Dean is said to haunt the highway on which he died on,
many claiming to still see his specter driving the Spyder fast down the