5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About James Dean

On September 30, 1955, 24-year-old actor James Dean, died when the Porsche Spyder convertible he was driving struck another vehicle. Here are five things you probably didn't know about James Dean...


He Was Ticketed For Speeding Two Hours Before His Death. On the afternoon of September 30, 1955, as Dean drove his brand-new Porsche Spyder to a road race in Salinas, California, a police officer ticketed him for going 65 mph in a 55-mph zone. Just over two hours later, a Ford Tudor sedan collided with Dean at the junction of present-day Highway 46 and Highway 41, about 80 miles from Bakersfield. Dean, who broke his neck and suffered severe internal injuries, was pronounced dead on arrival at a nearby hospital. To this day, it’s unclear whether he was speeding at the time.

James Dean Starred in Only Three Movies. Dean died after completing three major films, but two of them were released after his death; Rebel Without a Cause was released in October 1955, and Giant was released in November 1956. Dean was the first male actor to receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination for East of Eden in 1956 (he lost to Ernest Borgnine) and again in 1957 for Giant (he lost to Yul Brynner). He also holds the record for most posthumous nominations for a male actor as no one else has received more than one.


He Dated A "Seinfeld" Actress. In the years since his death, many women have professed to being in romantic relationships with James Dean. One such claim came courtesy of Liz Sheridan, best known for playing Jerry Seinfeld’s mother on the TV show “Seinfeld,” who wrote a 2000 memoir entitled, “Dizzy & Jimmy: My Life with James Dean: A Love Story.” According to the book, Sheridan and Dean met in New York in 1951, soon moved in together and were at one point engaged to be married.

His Front Teeth Were Fake. James Dean had his two front teeth knocked out while swinging on a trapeze in his aunt and uncle’s barn. (Dean later embellished the story, saying he lost them in a motorcycle accident.) As an adult, he purportedly enjoyed surprising acquaintances by casually removing his false teeth mid-conversation.

Some Say His Porsche Is Cursed. While the Porsche he was in during the accident was in bad shape after the crash, it was bought by the customizer who worked on it. (The car's mechanic was a passenger during the crash; he survived.) The customizer, George Barris, claimed over the years that the car was responsible for hurting employees and generally causing bizarre accidents to other people, even though the car remained immobile. The mechanic, meanwhile, attempted suicide several times and died in another crash in the 1980s. No one has actually been able to verify that the car was responsible for all of these problems, but the legend persists to this day.