Actor Paul Walker, best known for his role in the Fast & Furious action movies, has died in a car crash after his friend lost control of a Porsche GT which smashed into a pole and a tree.
The high-powered super-car burst into flames after it crashed in Santa Clarita, north of Los Angeles, at 3:30pm, yesterday.
Walker, 40, who was in five of the six films about illegal street racing and heists, had been at an event for his charity Reach Out Worldwide before deciding to take the car out for a drive with his friend.
The fundraiser, to benefit victims of Typhoon Haiyan, was taking place in a race car shop near to the scene of the crash.
Guests rushed to put out the flames with fire extinguishers but the fireball had already engulfed the car.
The star’s representatives and official Facebook page confirmed his death.
The LA County Sheriff’s department said two people died but is yet to release names.
However Ame Van Iden, Walker’s publicist, said in an email: ‘Sadly, I must confirm that Paul did pass away this afternoon in a car accident.’
The actor’s official Facebook page was also updated with the message: ‘It is with a truly heavy heart that we must confirm that Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident while attending a charity event for his organisation Reach Out Worldwide.
‘He was a passenger in a friend’s car, in which both lost their lives.
‘We appreciate your patience as we too are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news.
Universal Pictures also issued a statement, saying studio staff were “heartbroken” by Walker’s death.
“Paul was truly one of the most beloved and respected members of our studio family for 14 years, and this loss is devastating to us, to everyone involved with the Fast & Furious films, and to countless fans.
“We send our deepest and most sincere condolences to Paul’s family.”
Walker played undercover agent Brian O’Conner in the Fast & Furious movies.
The first film of the franchise was released in 2001 and the seventh is in development.
After drifting away from acting, he got his big break when a casting director remembered him from years before, tracked him down and gave him a role in the TV series Touched by an Angel.
Walker later won a recurring part in the soap The Young and the Restless before moving on to supporting roles in teen films in the late 1990s with Varsity Blues, She’s All That and The Skulls.
After the success of the first Fast & Furious film, Walker became the leading man for the second instalment when Vin Diesel dropped out.
Diesel later returned, however, and the six-film franchise has earned an estimated $2.4bn (£1.5bn) at global box offices. The series has not lost its appeal, with the latest instalment, the sixth, the most lucrative so far.
The seventh instalment began filming in September but has not been completed. It had been scheduled for release in July.
Walker has also filmed Hurricane Katrina drama Hours, which is due to be released on 13 December.
Another forthcoming film is Brick Mansions, a remake of the French action film District B13, for film studio Relativity.
Relativity President Tucker Tooley said in a statement: “Paul was an incredibly talented artist, devoted philanthropist and friend.”
Link to the FIFTIES FILMS – Johnny Dark.
This is a racing car film of 1954 and really does not have much to relate it to the Fast and the Furious films but it is the only one from that era that I can think of. The film is mainly about car racing with a youngish Tony Curtis (in the lead as Johnny) and Piper Laurie (as Liz). Both are strong willed so romance isn’t easygoing at the start.
Johnny is the auto engineer who is determined to drive his new model race car to win the 2200-mile race from Canada to Mexico and Liz, when she realizes her love for him, supports him entirely.
Lots of action throughout from players and race cars. The speeding cars keep you on the edge of your seat – great film shots from the air and the road as they blaze along from stop to stop during the race.