“I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favour to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.” Book of Ecclesiastes (9:11)
On Friday, September 30th 1955, James Dean who had just finished shooting his latest movie, Giant, was with his mechanic in his Porsche 550 Spyder to Salinas, California to race his new car. He was involved in a car accident that day and the only fatality was the twenty-four year old actor. James Dean did only three movies before he died and all three were released after his death. There is no doubt that he was very talented and destined to be a movie star.
One of James Dean’s rivals was an actor named Paul Newman. They both auditioned for the lead role in a movie called East of Eden. Both men had done some work on TV but East of Eden was the opportunity for them to break into the movies. Dean got the role and Newman ended up on another movie called “The Sliver Chalice” which happened to be a big flop when it was released in January 1955. Newman returned to the theatre and television in order to get his career back on track after a disappointing movie debut. His movie career received a fortunate boost on September 30th, 1955 – the day James Dean died.
Newman was offered two lead roles which Dean had signed up to do before his untimely death. One was as a boxer in a TV production and the other was also as a boxer, in a movie. This movie, Newman’s second ever movie, was the one that launched his film career and made him a star. The movie that launched Newman’s career was aptly named “Somebody up there likes me”. Paul Newman would go on to have a long and distinguished movie career but I am sure that there were movies he did from the late 50s through to the 60s and 70s that he would probably not have done if James Dean hadn’t died in 1955.
Chelsea FC (England) beat Bayern Munich (Germany) last weekend in Munich to become Europe’s football Champions. Chelsea’s run in the Champions League is a perfect case study of ‘somebody up there likes me’. The English press has attributed their successful run to the great tactics and English doggedness but others have suggested luck, fate, destiny and good fortune. The team’s improbable victories especially over Barcelona and Bayern astonished the neutrals who watched it and delighted Chelsea fans.
Bayern Munich and Barcelona players will wonder for the rest of their lives how they lost to Chelsea. They outplayed Chelsea, they had the better chances, they hit the cross bars and posts, they had Chelsea defending for their lives and they even had penalties during both matches against Chelsea and yet they still lost to Chelsea. If those matches were played a hundred times under same conditions, there is a high probability that Chelsea would lose at least 95% of the time. History is written by the winners and one person’s loss ends up becoming another’s gain.
Somebody up there certainly liked Newman as well as Chelsea. Paul Newman reportedly remarked in an interview in which he compared himself to main rivals such as Dean “…I am lucky to a fault, but I am also very determined.” I believe this statement sums up Newman’s career and Chelsea’s Champions League run.