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Famous T-Shirts – James Byron Dean

With this entry, we begin a new feature: “Famous T-Shirts“. Appropriately we’ll begin with the man who popularized the standard white tshirt — Mr. James Dean.

This photo shows famous-actor James in his favorite choice of casual wear as he prepares his Porche 550 Spyder during his fateful last ride. He was heading to Salinas, Calif. to participate in a race. The day is September 30, 1955. He would not survive the road trip.

Dean originally intended to have a friend trailer the Porsche to a meeting point at Salinas, behind his new Ford Country Squire station wagon [shown in the upper left of the photo below]. At the last minute, Dean drove the Spyder, having decided he needed more time to familiarize himself with the car. At 3:30PM, Dean was ticketed in Kern County for doing 65 in a 55 mph zone. The driver of the Ford was ticketed for doing 20 mph over the limit. Later, James stopped at Blackwell’s Corner for fuel [wiki].

This was most likely the last photo taken of James Dean alive. According to a Mapquest search, it was only a distance of 29 minutes (27.32 miles) from this gas station at Blackwell’s Corner that James would wreck the Spyder in Cholame, Calif. and expire from his injuries. More about Dean’s final day, here.

Interesting notes about this photo. James is wearing a v-neck t-shirt rather than the more popular crew neck style. He is smoking a cigarette at a gas station, a sign of his carefree, rebellious, reckless nature. He seems to be fixing his wristwatch as if to say, “Looks like it’s about time to die.”

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