HOLLYWOOD -- Speed-loving James Dean, Hollywood's newest bobby sox idol, was killed Friday night in the head-on collision of his $7,000 German sports car and another automobile.
Dean, 24, was driving from Hollywood to a road race in northern California at the time of his death on a darkening highway 28 miles east of Paso Robles.
A car driven by Donald Turnispeed of Tulare, Calif., a 23-year- old student, turned left in front of Dean's light aluminum Porsche Spyder and the two automobiles crashed head-on.
Dean died instantly. His body was battered. His neck was broken and there were numerous broken bones and cuts. The low-slung little Porsche skidded more than 100 feet from the point of impact before it stopped.
Two Escape Death
Dean's passenger, Rolf Weutherich, 29, a mechanic from a sports car garage in Hollywood, suffered a broken leg and fractured jaw but was in good condition at Paso Robles Memorial Hospital.
Turnispeed escaped with a bruised nose.
Dean's father, Winston S. Dean, a dental technican at Sawtelle Veterans Hospital here, traveled to Paso Robles, midway between here and San Francisco, today to return the body to Los Angeles for the funeral.
Young Dean's hobby of driving Porsche sports cars in road races was well-known in Cinema City and a cause for worry among his employers, Warner Studio. But the tousle-haired actor always insisted "it's not driving in the races that is dangerous, but driving on highways and streets with those ordinary drivers."
Dies At Wheel
True to his fear, he met death not in the week-end race he had entered in Salainas, but on the highway.
Sanford Roth, a still photographer who worked on Dean's last picture,"Giant," was traveling closely behind Dean in the actor's station wagon and told about the accident.
The actor originally planned to drive his station wagon to the races and tow the Porsche behind.
"Then he decided to drive the Porsche, so he asked Bill Hickman (an MGM worker) and me to drive the station wagon," Roth said.
"We wert driving slowly because we had the car trailer hooked to the station wagon. Suddenly we came upon this accident on the highway. We saw Jimmy's new car, crumpled to a ball. He was dead at the wheel."
Dean had only last week finished work on "Giant," one of the top pictures of the year.
Born in Indiana
Dean was born Feb. 8, 1931, In Marion, Ind., son of Winston and the late Mildred Dean. Three years ago he tried an acting career in New. York and won immediate success on such dramatic TV shows as Philco Playhouse and Kraft TV Theater. He became an established star on Broadway in "See The Jaguer" and "The Immoralist." Director Elia Kazan tapped Dean for "East of Eden' in Hollywood.
Dean took over where Marlon Brando left off in becoming the town's most colorful character. He whizzed about town in a motorcycle and wore blue jeans and T- shirts.