ABSTRACT

The death of Princess Diana in a car crash could have been scripted by J.G. Ballard along the lines of his controversial novel Crash! (1995 [1973]). The glamorous celebrity (plus lover) pursued by paparazzi photographers dies under their very lenses. One might almost fancy that Ballard’s anti-hero Vaughan was driving the mysterious Fiat Uno being sought by French police (although he would have chosen a much more ostentatious vehicle). In reality, Diana’s death was but one of a long line of celebrity road kills that have achieved the status of martyrdom – Albert Camus, Jackson Pollock, James Dean, Jayne Mansfield, Marc Bolan. All died and went to celebrity heaven – in Pollock’s case (according to Bayley 1986), his celebrity virtually originated with his death in a car. Moreover, the deaths of John F. Kennedy and Archduke Ferdinand while travelling by car are poles around which much twentieth-century history has revolved.