A little over a year ago, I ran a post as part of my Movies in Santa Clarita series, on James Dean and how his last meal may have been at Tip's Coffee Shop in Castaic, just north of Santa Clarita. The Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society has posted a video called "The Stuff of Legend: James Dean's Final Ride." It's a 23 minute documentary on the last few hours of Dean's life and is hosted by film historian E.J. Stephens.
This documentary has earned a lot of praise: it won a 2010 Star Award for Best Documentary and was one of the most watched shows nationwide in 2009. Any one who is a James Dean fan should watch it, as it's a very detailed account of Dean's accident with lengthy interviews with the Highway Patrolmen who responded to the scene. A lot of urban legends about the accident are discussed and dismissed.
Whatever you do, watch the first few minutes: the interview between Gig Young and Dean is horribly prophetic.
Ernie Tripke, one of the two Highway Patrolmen who responded to the crash, died just last December. His obituary in the Los Angeles Times can be found here.
E.J. Stephens has a fantastic blog over at Deadwrite's Dailies and is an well-known Santa Clarita Valley historian. He runs a film class that starts in March - you can find information about it on the SCV Historical Society web site.
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