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Hollywood celebrity burnouts- the dead and famous

By Edited Dec 1, 2015 8 15

Dead famous

Any person in search of a musical trifecta need look no further than the strange deaths of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, three of the biggest names in rock music history. They all died within 12 months of each other. Some Hollywood pundits still believe Joplin and Hendrix were murdered and Jim Morrison (The Doors lead singer) faked his own death, cashed in and disappeared. Having owned a rock radio station in Phoenix, Arizona back in the 1960's and 1970's, I knew Janis Jopin. I also knew her innermost secrets and excesses which were sex, drugs and vodka with orange juice. The idea of anyone of these famous celebrity singers overdosing on drugs doesn't add up. But here is the weird part of this death trifecta. They not only crashed and burned 12 months apart, they were all 27 years old with money and fame and never met a drug they didn't love.

The above paragraph contains some interesting information on rock singers, but that’s not what this article is about. I was going to burn up the pages on a great Hollywood actor named Steve McQueen who also died young, (50) when I turned my attention to an actor named James Dean, his death, and the Porsche sports car that killed him. This famous and talented young Hollywood celebrity was dead at the age of 24. James Dean appeared in a few Broadway plays and enjoyed several small roles on the move screen back in the 1950’s but his Hollywood celebrity fame was just around the corner. Soon three movies would make him famous and a household name. East of Eden which produced an Academy Award nomination, Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant. Like Steve McQueen, James Dean had a proclivity for several things. Porsche sports cars, smoking cigarettes and life in the fast lane.

Under the Hollywood sign, Celebrities live and die!

Hollywood- The town where you crash and burn

Janis Joplin in her vibrant years

The beautiful, famous and tragic Janis Joplin

Even more Hollywood deaths

In the 1950’s one man ruled when it came to building custom cars. This genius was George Barris. He and his brother Sam operated out of a small shop in Lynwood and had a famous Hollywood clientele list three pages long. I had earlier met George up at Lake Tahoe; we became friends and eventually rented a home in the Hollywood Hills where many of the famous celebrities lived. This is also where we met James Dean who was staying in a hotel on Hollywood Boulevard where most of the older dead celebrities had lived including Marilyn Monroe. James Dean had purchased a two-seater Porsche convertible to race in around the state. One weekend Dean visited a car striper named Dean Jefferies who rented space from Barris ostensibly to do some customized painting on his new roadster. At lunch George told James Dean he could do a bit of custom work on the Porsche then let Jefferies finish up with his designs. Dean needed a rush job since he was entered in a car race in Salinas, California. The job was completed and prior to James Dean leaving the shop, Jefferies told him that if he got in that Porsche Roadster, he’d be dead in a week. Dean laughed.
He was dead five days later after crashing his silver Porsche at an intersection only 42 miles north of my current home in California. George had the car towed and later sold it.

James Dean- A heart throb what ever decade you are from

James Dean


Oct 28, 2011 2:43pm
I'm always entertained by the people who can't accpet that people sometimes just die for real without faking their own deaths or being murdered. Coincidentally, I jsut did a similar thnig on the conspricay nature of death as it rleated to Boibby Fuller.

I can't really say I was fan of Joplis' but she was a train wreck and it is unfortuante the woman didn't get a chance to live a fuller life. And if you knew her at least you got to know HER and not the hot mess she became. Lucuky you. And good work on Dean (you could write a thing about George Barris -- he built the first Batmobile, and you're right -- the man IS pure genius when it comes to cars).
Oct 29, 2011 12:47am
It is a tragedy when anyone dies before they've lived a full life. Celebrity deaths hit hard in a collective way because they've become a part of many people's lives, if only in a small way.
Oct 29, 2011 4:41am
Thank you Vic. That part is outsourced, as I myself am only currently 31 years old. I fleshed the original outsourced work out and did some edits.

LLWoodard, it is a tragedy when anyone dies too young, especially the talented. .
Nov 1, 2011 2:40am
Well, to read this I'da thunk you were at least 32!! Anyway, this is how outsourcing confuses me (I'm not sniping you!!) because I thought YOU met Janis Joplin the way this was written (in one of my pieces I mention I've met Dick Clark: I really DID meet Dick Clark). So, now I'm embarassed having commented on Janis, and I feel like a shmuck. The piece is still good, nonetheless, you just led me down a primrose path, temptress!!
Nov 1, 2011 5:11am
Bless you Vic. Son't be embarrassed.( Not that I believe you could be embarrassed!).
I could have changed the article but I loved it so much, that I could not.

I guess Amy Winehouse will be my generations version of Janis Joplin. I wonder if others compare these two?
Nov 1, 2011 7:11pm
Amy Winehouse could never rise to the level of being any generation's Janis Joplin. Nothing wrong with her per se, she just doesn't pack that charismatic wallop that Janis did (same as, however great Green Day is -- and I love them -- they could never rise to the historic iconography of the Clash.
Oct 29, 2011 6:12pm
Fascinating article. I live in Southern California, and our normal evening news sounds like "Entertainment Tonight." You have some very interesting tidbits in this article. Thumbs up and +1
Oct 30, 2011 6:27am
Thank you for your comment Deborah- Diane.
I am starting to love finding unheard of facts lately.
Oct 30, 2011 10:50am
Where do you find all this stuff? Must have taken hours of research!
Oct 30, 2011 11:32am
Landed very lucky on my outsourcing Irene. He was a radio Dj, and got to meet all of these people.
He has given me an idea and I have currently been spending days researching a gentleman, that should be on my profile in the next few days.
Oct 30, 2011 12:14pm
Interesting info Ddraig!
Oct 30, 2011 4:56pm
Interesting stuff!
Oct 31, 2011 4:10am
Thank you Introspective and Capstone.
Nov 1, 2011 10:52am
Very well done, my husband and i just watched a program about Steve McQueen last weekend. Very interesting.
Nov 7, 2011 2:18pm
It is a shame that I missed that documentary Lynsuz, as I would have thoroughly enjoyed watching that extremely sexy and talented man. James Dean does come first of course.
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