Dennis Stock, the man responsible for the Life magazine photo of James Dean in an overcoat and with a cigarette in his mouth while walking down rain-soaked Times Square, died Monday night, January 11, 2010, at a hospital in Sarasota, Florida. Diagnosed with cancer, Stock contracted pneumonia a few days prior to his death. He was 81.
According to the Los Angeles Times obit, Dennis Stock met James Dean at a 1954 party hosted by Nicholas Ray, who would direct the actor in the youth drama Rebel Without a Cause (1955). The Times Square image was part of a James Dean-themed photo essay published in Life in 1955, which ominously included an image of Dean posing inside a coffin in a funeral home casket showroom in Fairmount, Indiana, where he had spent much of his time while growing up.
At the age of 24, James Dean would die in a car crash in Cholame, California, on September 30, 1955. Dean received two posthumous Best Actor Academy Award nominations: for Elia Kazan’s family drama East of Eden (1955), playing opposite Julie Harris and Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Jo Van Fleet; and for George Stevens’ sprawling drama Giant (1956), co-starring Elizabeth Taylor and Dean’s fellow Best Actor Oscar nominee Rock Hudson.
Dennis Stock on James Dean
"I liked him sometimes, but not all the time," Dennis Stock would tell the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in 2005. "But he was like family after a while. We really bonded in Indiana. Not in New York, where he was distracted a lot. He was an insomniac and didn’t get a lot of sleep and was a pain in the ass to work with." (See also: “Robert Pattinson ’Life’: Pattinson to Play Dennis Stock.”)
Dennis Stock’s James Dean photo: Life magazine.