Dennis Stock’s images of James Dean offer a uniquely intimate insight into a life on the brink of stardom, through the eyes of a close friend. Stock was introduced to Dean in Hollywood in January 1955 and, after watching a preview of Dean in East of Eden, became fascinated with the actor’s startling talent. Stock wanted to know where Dean had come from, and proposed to do a visual biography of his humble origins in Fairmount, Indiana—at the time a radical approach to documenting a celebrity. But it was through this deeply personal journey, along with the photographs taken in Hollywood and New York City, that Stock was able to build up such a complete picture of the young actor in both his professional and private worlds.
Pictured here, Dean visits his old school, Fairmount High, in Fairmount, Indiana, in 1955.