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Dennis Stock: James Dean ‘Times Square Photographer’

James Dean Times Square poster Dennis Stock
James Dean Times Square poster: Image by Dennis Stock.

James Dean ‘Times Square photographer’ Dennis Stock dead at 81

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 on Jan. 11 at a hospital in Sarasota, Florida. 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.”

Among the other stars in the world of film and music that Dennis Stock photographed were Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, John Wayne, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and Miles Davis.

Dennis Stock’s James Dean photo: Life magazine.

‘Fog of War’ editor Karen Schmeer killed

Jan. 26 update: Film editor Karen Schmeer, who collaborated with Errol Morris’ on the Oscar-winning documentary The Fog of War, died Jan. 22 after being struck by a car fleeing from a Manhattan drugstore robbery. The incident took place at Broadway and West 90th Street on the Upper West Side.

Schmeer won a best editing award at last year’s Sundance Film Festival for Greg Barker’s documentary Sergio, which is one of the semifinalists for the 2010 Academy Awards. The film chronicles the life of Sergio de Mello, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights killed in the 2003 terrorist attack at the U.N. headquarters in Iraq.

Schmeer also won the best editing award at the 2002 Slamdance Film Festival for Lucia Small’s My Father, the Genius.

In addition to The Fog of War (2003), about former US Secretary of Defense Robert MacNamara, Schmeer also edited Errol Morris documentaries Fast, Cheap & Out of Control (1997) and Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (1999).

The driver of the speeding car has been arrested on a murder charge. Two other suspects are still on the loose.

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1 comment

Jerry Wilkerson -

I hope this film ‘Life’ comes to Houston, Texas. Always admired James Dean and this movie sounds like something different and interesting.

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