Dennis Hopper who had such memorable roles in Easy Rider, Apocalypse Now, Speed, and Blue Velvet has passed away in his Venice home from a long bout of prostate cancer. He was only 74 years old. It was just two months ago that the actor was honored with the 2,403rd star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His star is located in front of the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Aside from acting, Hopper directed the critically acclaimed film Colors and was a brilliant photographer, painter, and sculptor.
Hopper was in born Dodge City, Kansas on May 17, 1936. He developed his love of acting in San Diego then on to the famous Actors Studio in NYC, under the direction of Lee Strasburg for a period of five years. In 1955, he made his film debut with James Dean and Natalie Wood in the classic Rebel Without a Cause. Hopper admired the work of Dean that he starred his next and final film Giant, the following year. Hopper continued to acting in supporting roles in Cool Hand Luke, The Sons of Katie Elder, and True Grit.
Hopper didn’t become a household name until 1969 when he directed, written, starred in the film Easy Rider. The film follows two bikers, Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Hopper) as they travel through the American South on motorcycles with one goal – Freedom. Easy Rider captured the successes and the failure of the late sixties’ hippie culture, experimentation of drugs, and the communal lifestyle. It also brought America to know a little known actor with the name of Jack Nicholson. Even though, he played a supporting role; the film was the stepping stone for his lifeling career. Hopper received the First Film Award (Prix de la premiere oeuvre) at the Cannes Film Festival in 1969. Twenty-nine years, it was added to the United States National Film Registry.
Hopper career laid low throughout the 1970′s until 1979 when he played a hypomanic Vietnam-era photojournalist in the Francis Ford Coppola’s epic Apocalypse Now. In the 1980′s, his film career was in high demand when he won high acclaim for his roles in Blue Velvet as the gas-huffing villain Frank Booth and Hoosiers which was earned a Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actor. In 1988, he directed the critically acclaimed Colors. The film follows two LAPD officers who try to stop the violence between the bloods and the crips. Hopper played the heavies in Speed, Super Mario Bros., and Waterworld throughout the 1990′s. His film appearance was in the 2008 movie Elegy with Sir Ben Kingsley and Penelope Cruz. On the small screen, his roles include a crazed referee in the Nike Commercials, a shore-lived stint on E-Ring, villian Victor Drazen in the very first season of 24, and producer Ben Cendars in the Showtime series Crash. He leaves behind four children and two grandchildren.
Thank you, Dennis for your given talent!