Celeb photographer dies

2002-05-07 16:45
New York - Roy Schatt, a photographer known for his pictures of film icon James Dean, has died at age 92.

Schatt died on Saturday at his Manhattan home, according to his wife, Elaine Schatt. The cause of death was congestive heart failure.

Educated in New York schools, Schatt was a fellow student of artist NC Wyeth, and began his career as an illustrator working for government agencies during the Roosevelt administration in the early 1930s.

Soon, however, he turned photography from a hobby into a new career. He was especially influenced by Eric Saloman's pioneering work in 35 millimetre, available-light photography.

Schatt also studied acting, and during World War II served with army special services in India, writing and drawing for military publications while producing, directing and acting in shows for US troops.

In New York after the war, Schatt returned to photography at the Circle in the Square Theatre and the Actors Studio, where director Lee Strasberg gave him a free hand to shoot performers. Schatt photographed Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman, Eli Wallach, Grace Kelly, Rod Steiger, Patricia Neal, Shelley Winters, Elia Kazan, Joanne Woodward and others.

Photo sessions with the mercurial Dean in 1954 led to Schatt becoming Dean's tutor in photography, a year before the young actor was killed in a California car crash.

Their short-lived friendship was described in the 1982 book, James Dean: A Portrait, containing about 100 pictures of Dean, including self-portraits and Schatt's familiar images known as the "torn sweater" series, depicting the actor's moody manner.

In 1991, Schatt sued the James Dean Foundation Trust, based in Dean's home state of Indiana, and other companies for copyright infringement after photos from the book turned up without permission on posters, calendars and novelty magnets.

The federal case, the first televised by Court TV, was settled with a $200 000 payment to Schatt. The foundation, run by Dean relatives, also retained rights to the material.

Schatt's photographs are exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, and the Chicago Art Institute. - Sapa-AP

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