This Day in History: James Dean Dies in a Car Accident September 30, 1955 A racing enthusiast, James Dean was killed on a stretch of California highway when the Porsche Spyder he was driving collided with another car. Of the three films Dean made during his career, at the time of his death only 'East of Eden' had been released. He was just 24 years old. With the release of 'Rebel Without a Cause' a month later, Dean's icon status was solidified. Dean's approach to acting would influence generations of actors that followed. He is buried in Fairmont, ID, less than a mile away from the farm where he was raised by his aunt and uncle.