This story was sent to me by my good friend (and sound designer extraordinaire) Wayne Pashley. Thanks Wayne.
Wayne and Libby Pashley, through their sound post company Big Bang Sound, have been fantastic supporters of my film on intuition PGS – Intuition is your Personal Guidance System.
Back to the story.
You might know that James Dean, iconic actor of REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, GIANT, and EAST OF EDEN, died in a car crash in 1955 on Highway 46 in California.
This is an account of a story told to famed British tv interviewer Michael Parkinson by Sir Alec Guinness, possibly best known as Obi Wan Kenobi in the STAR WARS films.
On Sept. 30, 1955, James Dean died after his Porsche 550 Spyder was in a devastating accident while he was cruising along California 46.
The cultural icon was 24.
In 1977 interview on the BBC’s Parkinson Talk Show, a somber Guinness recalls how he warned the young man that if he drove that car, he would be killed. That conversation took place the evening of Sept. 23, 1955, just one week prior.
It all happened when Guinness and a friend were turned away from a packed restaurant in Hollywood, so they began to head elsewhere.
“Then I heard feet running down the street, and it was James Dean,” Guinness began. “He said, ‘I was in that restaurant and you couldn’t get a table. My name is James Dean, would you please come and join me?'”
At the time, Guinness had numerous film credits to his name and an Oscar nomination for The Lavender Hill Mob, so clearly Dean knew he was a big deal.
Guinness and his friend agreed and started back, but before they went inside, Dean wanted to show off his new car, Guinness recalled.
“There in the courtyard of this little restaurant was this little silver thing, very smart, all done up in cellophane with a bunch of roses tied to its bonnet,” Guinness told Parkinson, adding that he asked how fast it could go. Dean replied it would do 150 mph.
“I said, ‘Have you driven it?’ and he said, ‘No. I have never been in it at all,'” Guinness said. “And some strange thing came over me. Some almost different voice and I said, ‘Look, I won’t join your table unless you want me to, but I must say something: Please do not get into that car, because if you do’ — and I looked at my watch — and I said, ‘if you get into that car at all, it’s now Thursday (Friday, actually), 10 o’clock at night and by 10 o’clock at night next Thursday, you’ll be dead if you get into that car.'”
Dean brushed the warning off and the group proceeded to have a “charming dinner,” Guinness told Parkinson.
“And he was dead the following Thursday afternoon in that car,” said Guinness. “It was one of those odd things. It was a very, very odd, spooky experience.”
I have a better Alec Guinness story;
Before the first STAR WARS movie commenced shooting, producer George Lucas approached Guinness and asked if he would reduce his fee and take profit share points in the picture instead.
Guinness, thinking the film would tank, graciously declined.
Clearly his intuitive voice didn’t speak to him that day!
Alec Guinness – Obi-Wan Kenobi – original Star Wars movie – his attorney negotiated the best deal of all of the core cast members – he received 2.25 of the profits of the movie, which at the time came to 3.3 million – estimates have him making somewhere between 50 and 75 million over the years from this deal.
TOM Dickson, Sydney Australia
Tom – if this is true then what I wrote was obviously an urban myth! It has delighted many a dinner party I’ve attended, and whilst I stand corrected – thank you – I can’t guarantee that I won’t delight more such dinner parties!
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I much prefer your dinner party version, Bill!! Go a good story, eh?! 🙂
haha – always Britta – always!!
I think that Sir Alec was probably more open in the first incident and hence the spot on reception. In the second incident, he may have let his judgement get in the way about his value!
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That is a most interesting story Bill and your dinner party stories sound very entertaining!