Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Paul Walker and James Dean……….Gone Too Soon!!

As I was reflecting this weekend about the very tragic death of another one of our Hollywood actors, I could not help but be reminded of another young actor who was taken from this earth too soon.  The striking similarities between the deaths of these two young men were eerie and I thought the two needed to be compared.  These two California born actors were lost before they had achieved their greatest accomplishments, but they both lived life to the fullest and made such an impact in a short time.

Quick Facts:

·         Age at time of death:  James Dean 24 years old, Paul Walker 40 years old.

·         Profession:  Both Hollywood actors

·         Movie Career: James Dean was the star of only two films at the time and had just finished his third when he was killed.  Dean made an impact on the teens of the 50’s and 60’s with his rolls on film and his off screen allure.  Paul Walker had been in many TV and movie rolls during his career, but gained the most success as the star of the very successful Fast and Furious movie series and was currently filming the 7th instalment of this series.  Walker had a large impact on the street racing and tuner scene of today’s youth.

·         Hobby: Both Dean and Walker enjoyed driving race cars in their off time.  Dean had already owned a few sports cars and had begun competing in the Palm Springs Road Races and also at Bakersfield. His final race was at Santa Barbra where he drove a 1955 Porsche Super Speedster and was running 4th when he had engine trouble.  His racing career was halted by Warner Brothers until he had finished filming Giant, his next film at the time (It would be his last).  Paul Walker also enjoyed weekend racing and had competed in the Redline Time Attack racing series with his BMW M3 E92.  He also was a member of the AE Performance Race Team (Always Evolving race team owned by Roger Rodas).

(This is believed to be the last photo of Dean by his 550 Spyder)
(This is thought to be the last known photo of Walker by his Carrera GT)

·         Car Wreck:  James Dean was killed in a Porsche 550 Spyder and Paul Walker was killed in a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT, both were exotic sports cars capable of extremely high speed and acceleration!

·         Controversy: One big question in both deaths is whether speed was a factor.  It has always been assumed that the wreck that killed Dean was due to high speed and/or his daredevil lifestyle; however recent evidence suggests that Dean was driving the car and was only traveling approx. 70mph.  Prior investigations had suggested that Dean’s mechanic (Rolf Wutherich) was driving and that they were traveling in excess of 100mph.  Dean and his mechanic were actually driving to a car race in Salinas, California and decided to drive the 550 Spyder instead of towing it.  There is also a backstory of this Porsche 550 Spyder and the possible “curse” the car had.  In the case of Walker’s wreck there is also questions about what caused the wreck…..was it speed, who was driving, was it a mechanical failure?  If you have seen the crash photos it does seem that speed was most likely involved because the car was ripped up badly and then caught fire.  Initial investigations into Walker’s accident say that the driver of the Carrera GT was Roger Rodas, who was a close personal friend and financial advisor.  Roger was also an avid race car driver and owner/CEO of AE Performance Race Team.

It’s very odd that James Dean known for his “Rebel” type persona, and Walker known for his love of fast cars (on and off the screen) and that they both left this World in such a violent way-while in a sports car doing what they loved.  Call it irony or fate; these two men will always live on through the big screen as we relive their glory days on film.  But one thing is for sure……..they will forever be missed!

RIP: James Dean (Feb. 8, 1931 – Sep. 30, 1955)
RIP:  Paul Walker (Sep. 12, 1973 – Nov. 30, 2013)