"The universe is not only queerer than we imagine, it is queerer than we can imagine." ~ J.B.S. Haldane

Paranormal Curiosities

American Icons - James Dean


James Dean only starred in three films in his brief career yet his electric screen presence, smoldering "bad boy" good looks and portrayals of youthful angst and rebellion against authority became the stuff of legend when he was killed in a head-on collision in 1955. The tragedy cemented his iconic status with subsequent generations and fueled wide-spread speculation that he, his car, and the principle young leads in his final film fell victim to a powerful black magic curse. The evil spell was purportedly cast by Maila Nurmi, an actress in low budget horror films who was a member of a Satanic coven. The star had enjoyed a brief romance with the woman, but denied his involvement with her to the press, afraid of the damage a negative association might do to his exploding career. Humiliated by his cavalier treatment she was said to have placed a hex on him during the filming of Rebel Without a Cause, the car he bought during the shoot, and those that shared the screen with him. Whether there is any truth to the tale is debatable, but the fact remains that each of the film's young stars died untimely deaths, Dean within weeks at age 24, Sal Mineo stabbed to death at 37, Nick Adams of a drug overdose at 36, and Natalie Wood drowned at 43.

As for the car Dean was driving when he died, it was a silver gray Porsche 550 Spyder he had purchased to race in an upcoming event in Salinas, CA. Despite his obvious pride in the sleek high performance machine which he named "The Little Bastard" several friends urged him to get rid of it. Nick Adams, one of the alleged curse victims, said the vehicle made him "uncomfortable". Dean's new girlfriend Ursula Andress refused to even sit in it. Oscar winner Alec Guinness best remembered for portraying Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars told the young star on September 23 that if he (Dean) got in the car, he'd be dead in a week. Exactly a week later on September 30, the fatal crash occurred. Another friend, George Barris, who had customized the auto for Dean and later designed television's Batmobile, said that the car just gave off "a weird feeling of impending doom", but that didn't stop him from buying the mangled wreckage after Dean's death.

His intent was to sell salvaged parts from the car, but it seems that the car was not yet done bringing bad luck to those nearest it. As it was being unloaded it fell from the back of the car hauler and crushed a mechanic's legs. The engine and the drive train were sold to Dr. Troy McHenry and Dr. William Eschrid who used the parts in their own racing machines. Both crashed at an event in Pomona, CA. McHenry died and Eschrid was disabled for the remainder of his life. Two tires from the Spyder were sold to a young man who returned days later to Barris and told him that both had blown out at the same moment causing him to crash into a ditch. He had just gotten out of the hospital.

Loathe to sell any more parts, Barris agreed to allow the California Highway Patrol to exhibit the car as part of a safety campaign. Ironically, Dean had filmed a public service message against speeding just weeks prior to his death where he ad-libbed "the life you save might be mine." While in storage, the garage mysteriously caught fire, destroying every other car in the building except the Spyder. It only received minor smoke damage. Later, while on display at Sacramento High School, bolts holding the car on a platform sheared off, allowing the wreck to slide onto and crush a fifteen year-old student's hip. It just happened to be September 30, the anniversary of Dean's death. While in route to another exhibit in Salinas the flatbed hauling the wreckage was involved in an accident. The driver was thrown free but the car fell from the truck bed and rolled onto the man, killing him instantly. Two years later, a different truck hauling it was involved a wreck that caused a fatality, and in 1958 yet another serious accident. In 1959, while on display at an exhibit in New Orleans, the car fell into eleven separate pieces for no apparent reason.

Before any more tragic incidents could occur, Barris requested that the wreckage be crated up, placed on a train and returned to him in Los Angeles from a display in Miami, Florida. And -- this is where the story gets really strange -- the car never arrived. Somewhere along the way it just vanished. The shipping seals were still in place with no evidence of tampering when the boxcar was opened, yet the contents were gone. No crate, no car, no clues... and though there have been numerous reports of a phantom version speeding along the now closed highway where the star met his fate, as of this day James Dean's actual death car has never been recovered. Both its disappearance and the possible curse it carried are duly entered into the logbook of PARANORMAL CURIOSITIES.













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Read all of Janet's Parnormal Curiosities installations:

8/18/2009 Ann Boleyn

08/10/2009 Regis Philbin

07/31/2009 Walter Cronkite
07/20/2009 The Romanovs

07/13/2009  James Dean 

07/06/2009  Lord Byron

 06/28/2009  George Washington


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