Hollywood actor James Dean died in a crash sixty years ago, age 24. His early death immortalised him as the first American teenager - appealing to young people in the late 1950s. Fast forward to the 1970s and a young black boy in North London hears the term Rebel without a Cause and the love affair begins.
Broadcaster Dotun Adebayo was that boy. He tells of the lengths to which he went to adapt everything he could to become like James Dean both physically and in attitude. He reveals how this led him to become London's first black Teddy Boy, one of the Southgate Teds, and how his determination to rebel got him into trouble.
Following his hero's footsteps, Dotun joined the National Youth Theatre where he met the playwright Barrie Keeffe, famed for the Long Good Friday screenplay. They got talking and it turned out Barrie had shared the Dean obsession in his youth. This resulted in writing the play Killing Time about a young black boy's obsession with James Dean - incorporating some of Dotun's own feelings.
We also hear from James Dean's family, still living in the small town where he grew up as a quiet farm boy and where he's buried - Fairmount Indiana. To them he was likeable Jimmy Dean and not the moody, rebellious Hollywood actor.
Since his death, Dean has become big business - there's the Gallery, the Museum, and the family farm's door is always open to fans. Visitors from all over the world make pilgrimages, so it seems Dotun wasn't alone in his obsession. There is also a corporation that takes care of the Dean image for the family, and their involvement in various projects brings earnings estimated at $7 million a year. The brand continues to get stronger across the world.
Producer: Sue Clark
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.