Today is the supposed demise date of classic 1950s actor James Dean.
I say “supposed” because…well, some people don’t believe he actually died at that time.
After decades of being steeped in all sorts of Hollywood rumors, I only heard about the Dean one last year. Disbelief that icons such as Dean are really dead is pretty common…there’s been Elvis, Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur and others. Some of this instinct to “deny” the death of the celebrity is a natural response to grief…but also, in this world of “deep fakes” and holograms and whatnot, the illusion that the celebrity is still alive is simply just too easy to maintain.
OK, this one sounds far-fetched at first, but has a creepy “real world” detail added to it that I’ll admit gave me pause. Supposedly…James Dean did not perish in a car crash in 1955, but only died last April (!!!!!) at the age of 95.
As many stories of this particular combination of Old Hollywood and Seriously Batshit Insane originate nowadays, this one came from the Crazy Days And Nights blog. I’m going to just reproduce it here because, honestly, God knows how long that site is really going to stay up in this day and age:
“One of the longest held secrets in Hollywood was known by a handful of people. I was never one of those people. Even as the secret was passed down to a second and then a third generation, I still never knew. It was not until the last week of April that I was told the secret and that it was OK to talk about it now because the subject of the secret had been killed in an auto accident. That was kind of fitting considering that is how he “died,” the first time. He was A+ list that first time. The entire world loved him and adored him and he hated every second of it. He wanted no part of it. So, with the help of a police chief who thought the world of him and a rival studio head who was willing to do anything to not watch those big box office numbers he put up, they got to work. The studio chief got some set designers and stunt people and they created a car wreck. The police chief donated a body from the morgue no one was going to claim, so they could bury a body and it was all set. The studio chief signed a contract with the actor and it basically paid him about $1500 a week for his entire life. And boy did he live a long life. When he was killed north of the border in an auto accident in April he was 95 or 96 depending on whether you used his Canadian or American birth certificate. For much of the past 60 some odd years he had lived in a remote section of that northern country, but in the past few years moved to a much larger city so he and his wife could be closer to medical care. Being 95/96 didn’t stop his love of driving though and his wife loved being with him when he did. She was with him in the car when they were hit by a tractor trailer. His wife is expected to make a full recovery.
“The collision occurred at about 2:30 p.m. near the intersection of Highway 583 and Highway 21. The man was driving a car with a 96-year-old woman in the passenger’s seat when it was struck on the driver’s side by the tractor trailer unit. He was taken to hospital with injuries where he was pronounced dead. The woman in the car was air-lifted to a city hospital with serious injuries.”
Moreover, the item in Crazy Days And Nights was given a “Blind Items Revealed” label…meaning that supposedly it’s “true” enough a story that the blog is not worried about getting sued over it (though who would be left from the Dean estate to sue, at this point?)
And so my questions are:
a) Is it possible at all that an enduring cult star of Dean’s stature could have faked his own death and have it “quiet” in the media for over 60 years?
b) If this story is as fake as a $13-dollar-bill—who sits down and goes through all the trouble of coming up with it, corroborating it with an obscure current news item and so on??? And why???
If this wasn’t all weird enough for you…there is another, different theory that Dean faked his death.
From our friends at the National Enquirer comes a tale in which the actor actually survived the 1955 crash…but was horribly disfigured in the accident, prompting him to fake the death and live his final seven years in anonymity in a private bungalow provided by the movie studio.
The creepy corroboration to this particular rumor comes in the form of this photo of Vampira and friend at a Halloween party that took place after Dean’s alleged death:
Vampira–once Dean’s own buddy before a falling out–is seated next to Jack Simmons dressed as Dean with bandages covering his face!
Was this a veiled reference to insider knowledge regarding Dean’s survival of the crash and his subsequent facial disfiguration?
At any rate, there you have it…2 wild theories regarding James Dean’s supposed survival after his 1955 crash. Do with them what you will!