A Case of the Human Condition: James Dean’s Last Day — Video with CHP Officers on the Scene

The Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society has put together an excellent video featuring the two California Highway Patrol officers who were first on the scene of the car crash that killed the 1950’s film idol James Dean after another vehicle made a left turn in front of Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder near Paso Robles, California.

Also interviewed on the video is the CHP officer who cited Dean for speeding just hours before the fatal collision. The speeding ticket states that Dean was traveling 65 mph in a 55 mph zone, but the officer tells his interviewer that he clocked Dean’s Porsche, “Little Bastard,” travelling at 7o mph.

Dean was pleasant, the officer said. “He wasn’t belligerent.” He looked like a Hollywood type; he was wearing dirty jeans held up by a rope through the belt loops.

The video was shown at a public screening on Feb. 28, 2009. The screening was attended by two of the CHP officers, a local crowd, and a James Dean wannabe wearing a red jacket.

The video also shows a public service announcement made just weeks before the young movie star’s death. In it Dean warns America’s youth not to speed on the highway. “The life you save might be mine.”



  1. Tony Newhall says:

    Your account of the James Dean gathering in Newhall on February 28 is 100% accurate. I also tried the link to the video clip, and it worked perfectly. (That message from James Dean in the public service announcement was haunting!) You have brought forth some fascinating history. Good job!

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