George Clooney, the Oscar-winning film actor, heart-throb and occasional campaigner for Darfur, was facing possible dangerous driving charges and nursing not-so-serious wounds yesterday after crashing his motorcycle late on Friday in Weehawken, New Jersey, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan.
The tumble left him with a bad case of road rash and a hairline fracture to one rib, but it also afforded him membership of a distinguished club of celebrities who insist on boasting their biking bravado and have similarly come a cropper over the years. Arnold Schwarzenegger has landed himself in hospital the same way (twice), as have Billy Idol, David Hasselhoff and Keanu Reeves.
Speculation sizzled yesterday about the passenger riding pillion with Mr Clooney. Identified as Sarah Larson, a former reality TV contestant and cocktail waitress, she was described as his girlfriend for several months. Her injuries were also minor, extending to two broken toes.
More murky, however, than Mr Clooney's romantic status, are the circumstances of the accident itself. A spokesman for Mr Clooney, 46, said he was on the right side of a Mazda saloon on a busy street when its driver signalled to the left but changed his mind and turned right, colliding with the motorbike.
But local police said the accident remained under investigation. If it is established that Mr Clooney was trying to overtake on the right, he could face charges. "It's a he-said, she-said right now, but you can't pass on the right in Weehawken or anywhere in Jersey," Sergeant Sean Kelly, of the town's police department, commented bluntly. No summonses had been issued either for Mr Clooney or for the driver of the Mazda.
The good news for fans of Mr Clooney, whose career was launched with his role as a doctor on the TV show, "ER", was the lightness of his injuries. Much less lucky was Billy Idol, who almost lost a leg and was left temporarily paralysed from his waist down after hitting a car in 1990 in Los Angeles on his Harley Davidson and .
Mr Schwarzenegger was riding his vintage Harley with his 12-year-old son in a side car when he hit a car pulling out from a side-street in August 2005. His son was unhurt, but California's Governor took 15 stitches for a cut. More serious was another biking accident in 2001 when he suffered 6 broken ribs.
The most foolhardy on two wheels, however, seems to be Keanu Reeves, who broke an ankle after taking part in a daredevil night ride without lights in 1996. In 1988, he required surgery for a broken leg and other internal injuries after a more serious motorcycle crash.
There seems little reason, meanwhile, that Mr Clooney cannot resume shooting in New York tomorrow of the Coen Brothers film "Burn After Reading", which will also star Brad Pitt, John Malkovich and Frances McDormand. "He's doing fine," his spokesman, Stan Rosenfeld confirmed.
The actor was in much worse shape after being hurt filming a torture scene for the film 'Syriana', for which he won a supporting actor Oscar last year. He underwent surgery after doctors found spinal fluid leaking into his brain, and he wore a neck brace for months.Reuse content