James Dean - The Last Ten Weeks



Everyone grapples for a fresh angle on the life and death of Hollywood actor James Dean, and here we have it in documents locked away for more than half a century.

Essays and hundreds of pictures by critically acclaimed photographer Sanford Roth have come to light giving us a new insight into the life of an icon.

Hollywood actor Robert Wagner tells the story of Roth's short but intense friendship with Dean over that hot summer of 1955.

Roth (his words brought to life here by actor Michael Xavier) paints a unique picture of a young man who, to many, has remained an enigma for decades.

Roth - who had photographed all the greats of the era, from Hollywood stars to Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky and Cocteau, befriended the young Dean while taking the stills pictures for his third and ultimately final film Giant.

Dean was fascinated by Roth's work and over the ten weeks leading up to his death on September 30th 1955 would forge a strong bond with Sandy and his wife Beulah.

Roth photographed Dean at work, at play - and was with him on the day he died.

In this programme we hear Roth's reflections on Dean - his acting, his friendships, his clashes on set, his enthusiasms and passions, his ambitions, his frustrations - and from it we can perhaps imagine what might have become of James Dean had he lived.

To paint a full picture of the young Dean that summer 60 years ago, the programme also hears from his young cousin Marcus Winslow Jnr, from his best friend Lew Bracker, from fellow racing enthusiast Bruce Kessler and from his Giant co-stars Jane Withers and Carrol Baker. There's contributions from Francesca Robinson Sanchez who was left Sanford Roth's Dean Collection and from British film producer David Puttnam who was inspired by Dean.

Commenting on the programme's content, Robert Wagner, who was a contemporary of Dean says: "It's important to realise the impact he had on all of us - and still has.".