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Dennis Stock, Photographer of James Dean, Dies

Dennis Stock's best known picture of James Dean crossing New York's Times Square in the rain has been credited with defining 1950s cool and immortalizing the young actor who died shortly after the photograph was published in Life magazine. Many referred to the picture as "the boulevard of broken dreams." It portrayed the Hollywood hero as human.
It was the poster that launched a thousand crushes.
Mr. Stock, who died Jan. 11 at age 81, was a member of the Magnum photo agency, also home to some of this century's greatest contemporary photojournalists, including Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
One of Mr. Stock's earlier mentors was Gjon Mili whose 1944 short movie, Jammin' the Blues, inspired Mr. Stock to embed with Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and Earl Hines on a three year journey through the Jazz scene.

In that movie, notice how each shot could be a photograph. How the smoke swirls around the saxophonist. How the camera focuses on the artful flip of the drummer's wrist on the snare.

This is the third photographer I've written about-- including Irving Penn, and Willy Ronis-- and I was happy to do it.

Photographers leave their legacy in the perfect little moments captured by their lenses and recorded onto their film. It makes writing about them a very engaging and enjoyable process.

By T. Rees Shapiro  |  January 13, 2010; 8:13 PM ET
Categories:  Actors, actresses , Movies  | Tags: Dennis Stock, James Dean  
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