'James Dean - Fifty Years Ago'

James Dean, the brooding actor whose meteoric rise to fame on the silver screen ended just as quickly in a fatal car accident fifty years ago, continues to haunt us like a restless ghost. He has been immortalized through three classic Hollywood films, posters and note cards, t-shirts, and numerous Tinseltown wannabees.

However, the very essence of Dean’s life is preserved in the photographs that Magnum photographer Dennis Stock took of Dean in New York City; Dean’s hometown of Fairmont, Indiana; and in Hollywood during the filming of Rebel Without a Cause. Harry N. Abrams is proud to publish in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of this Hollywood legend’s death JAMES DEAN: Fifty Years Ago by Dennis Stock with an Introduction by Joe Hyams (July 2005; Hardcover; $29.95).

Dennis Stock was introduced Dean at an afternoon soiree at the bungalow of director Nicholas Ray on the grounds of the Chateau Marmont. Stock could not understand what everyone there saw in the moody, bespectacled young man until he saw a sneak preview of East of Eden. He knew then he was witnessing the birth of a star and he proposed a photo essay of James Dean to Life. The magazine was not enthusiastic about the piece initially, but Stock’s persistence coupled with positive press about Dean’s performance in the new film, resulted in quick approval for the project.

During a period of three months in 1954, Stock captured in photographs the real James Dean, a young man torn between Hollywood, New York City, and his small, mid-western town life, a boy grieving the death of his mother, and a brilliant actor coming of age in the spotlight of overnight success. From the classic picture of Jimmy walking in the rain alone in Times Square and playing his bongo drums in his family’s farmyard surrounded by livestock - both nostalgic farewells to the young actor’s life before stardom - to Jimmy on the set of Rebel, these images continue to define the man five decades after his death.

On March 7, 1955, Stock’s Life photo essay hit news stands one month before the official release of East of Eden. James Dean was now a bonafide Hollywood celebrity with a hit movie and solid contract with Warner Brothers, and Dennis Stock, now a close friend of the actor’s, revolutionized the art of photo journalism by getting into the personal psyche of Hollywood’s newest leading man. On September 29, Dean invited Stock to go to Salinas with him to race his new Porsche. Stock turned down the invitation, the next day, Dean died in the infamous car accident and has been immortalized since.

James Dean
Fifty Years Ago
Dennis Stock
Introduction by Joe Hyams

Publisher: Harry N. Abrams, July 2005
0-8109-5903-8; 10 X 13; 128 page; 80 duotone photographs
$29.95 [$45.00 Canada]


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