Rebel in a car: One of the final pictures of Hollywood legend James Dean taken hours before his death in beloved Porsche Spyder to be sold at auction

  • The star, 24, crashed car on Route 466 in California later the same day
  • Was on way to race at time with mechanic and friend Rolf Wutherich
  • Dean became screen legend despite starring in just three movies

This is the poignant last official picture of movie legend James Dean taken on the day of his fatal car crash.

Dean is pictured looking relaxed and happy in the driver's seat of his beloved Porsche 550 Spyder with mechanic Rolf Wutherich sitting alongside him on a sunny California morning.

The photograph was taken on September 30, 1955, by Sanford Roth who was following Dean to do a photo feature on a race he was attending. The photograph will be auctioned by Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills this week.

Poignant: This is the last official photograph of movie legend James Dean snapped on the morning of his fatal car crash on 30th Sept 1955. Dean is in the driving seat with mechanic Rolf Wutherich alongside him

Roth took the picture just before the party headed out of Los Angeles to the road races at Salinas. The 24-year-old star crashed his car on Route 466 near Pasa Robles later on the same day.

Dean was killed in the crash and his friend Wutherich was seriously injured.

Martin Nolan, executive director of Julien's Auctions, said: 'James Dean is quite the icon today yet he was only in Hollywood for five years.

Icon: Dean made just three films before he died in a head-on car crash at the age of just 24

'He made three movies and two of those came out after his death. It's amazing that in 2013 he is still such a memorable icon.

'This is a candid photo and was taken by the photographer from Dean's station wagon in front. Dean was on his way to a car race and it looks like they were all having fun.

'It is a forever powerful and compelling image, with Dean clasping his mechanic's hand in a gesture of anticipation and triumph. As it is one of the last photos ever taken of him, it is most poignant.'

Photographer Roth first met Dean on the set of the 1956 film Giant and the pair became friends. Roth took some iconic pictures of Dean both on the set of that film and afterwards in Los Angeles.

Dean was the first ever actor to receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, for his role in East Of Eden in 1955.

He is also the only actor to receive two posthumous Academy Award acting nominations, as he had a second one the following year for Giant.

The photograph, which is being auctioned alongside other images of Dean taken by Roth, is set to fetch £500 when it goes for sale on April 5.

James Dean is buried in Fairmount, Indiana, near his uncle's farm where he grew up. In 1977, a Dean memorial was erected in Cholame, California.

The sculpture was made of stainless steel around a 'tree of heaven' growing in front of the former Cholame post office building.

Image: Some claim this photo of Dean at a petrol station with his Porsche is the last one taken of him before his death

Debated: This image of the back of Dean's car as he was driving is also claimed by some to be the last picture taken of him before he died

Tragedy: The wreck of Dean's car is removed from the scene of the crash in which the star was killed

The sculpture features a handwritten description by Dean's friend William Bast of one of Dean's favorite lines from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince: 'What is essential is invisible to the eye.'

Dean was born in 1931,in Marion, Indiana. His father had left farming to become a dental technician, and Dean and his James family then moved to Santa Monica, California.

His mother, to who he was close, died of cancer when Dean was just nine years old.

Doomed: The actor gives the thumbs-up sign from the car while parked on Vine Street in Hollywood. Dean, who had taken up racing the year before, owned the car only nine days when he lost his life in the crash

Silver screen: Dean shot to fame for his starring role in the film Rebel Without A Cause (1955) alongside Sal Mineo (left) and Natalie Wood

Loss: The actor died before two of the three films he starred in were released. He is seen here in one of those films, 'East Of Eden' alongside Lois Smith

He was sent by his father to live with his aunt and uncle on a farm in Fairmount, Indiana, where he was raised in a Quaker background.

His acting career took of after he graduated from high school and moved back to Los Angeles to live with his father.

While studying at UCLA, he was picked to play Malcolm in Macbeth. He dropped out of the university in January 1951, to pursue an acting career full-time.

Work: Another of Dean's films, 'Giant' was released in 1956 (seen here). Dean started acting after joining UCLA

Resting place: Dean was buried in Park Cemetery in Fairmount, Indiana, close to the farm where he grew up with his aunt and uncle

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