James Dean: "The Life You Save Might Be Mine"

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 11.52.34 PMLegendary live-fast-die-young actor James Dean died on this date in 1955 after crashing his Porsche 550 Spyder (nicknamed “Little Bastard”) on Rt. 466 in California, en route to a weekend sports car race in Salinas. The 24-year-old rising superstar had been driving 85 miles an hour when he hit another car head-on as it crossed the center line. But how’s this for irony: A few months earlier, Dean and actor Gig Young filmed a public service announcement for the National Safety Council, warning of the dangers of speeding. Dean, dressed as the Texan character he played in his last film, “Giant,” warned that driving too fast on the highway can be even more dangerous than speeding on a race track, where there are “more rules.”  He said he didn’t “have the urge to speed on the highway.” He was supposed to end the PSA by saying, “The life you save may be your own,” but decided to ad-lib, joking, “The life you might save might be mine.”

© Dana Spiardi, Sept 30, 2014