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Historical Society panel: Did James Dean stop in the SCV on his last day?

Event features screening of 'Rebel Without a Cause'

Posted: January 19, 2009 2:52 p.m.
Updated: January 19, 2009 3:21 p.m.
Sept. 30, 1955. The final day of life for movie star James Dean and the birth date of a Hollywood legend.

On that fateful autumn day, Dean drove from Hollywood in his new Porsche 550 Spyder to an auto race in Salinas, California. He never made it. Just outside of Cholame, California, Dean's Porsche collided head-on with another car and he died at the scene. He was only 24 years old.

A couple of hours prior to his death, Dean passed through the Santa Clarita Valley. Some believe that he even stopped here for his "last meal."

On Saturday, Feb. 28 at 2 p.m., the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society will be hosting a special joint event entitled "The Life and Death of James Dean: Tracing His Last Day" as part of their Lecture Series and "Flickers at the Junction" classic movie series.

The day will begin with a panel discussion on the life and death of James Dean (including the mystery of his last day in the SCV) featuring authors Chris Epting "James Dean Died Here", Warren Beath "The Death of James Dean", and Tony Newhall, former publisher of the Newhall Signal, along with other distinguished guests to be announced.

Moderator for the panel discussion will be Leon Worden, President-CEO, SCVTV.

The discussion will be followed by a screening of James Dean's classic film "Rebel Without a Cause." The event will be held at the Saugus Train Station in Heritage Junction at William S. Hart Park, 24101 Newhall Avenue (formerly San Fernando Road), in Newhall, Calif.

James Dean was born Feb. 8, 1931 in Marion, Indiana, and began pursuing his acting career after high school. In 1955, Dean made three films, "East of Eden," "Rebel Without A Cause," and "Giant," which earned him immediate acclaim and two Academy Award Best Actor nominations.

Two weeks after completing "Giant" Dean left for Salinas with his 29-year-old mechanic Rolf Wütherich in the Porsche. They drove into the Santa Clarita Valley along Highway 99 and by some accounts may have stopped for lunch at a Tip's Restaurant (the location of which was either the present day intersection of the Old Road and Henry Mayo Drive at the Junction with Highway 126, or the current Marie Callender's site at the corner of the Old Road and Magic Mountain Parkway).

After his purported meal at Tip's, Dean proceeded north and met his end at the intersection of California Highways 46 and 41.

Whatever the course of events on Sept. 30, 1955, the legend of James Dean lives on to this day.

The Historical Society is proud to host this distinguished panel and movie classic at the Saugus Train Station. The general public is welcome. Admission will be free for the panel discussion with a $5 donation suggested for the movie that follows the discussion.


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