Multi-talented and unconventional actor/director regarded by many as one of the true "enfant terribles" of Hollywood who has led an amazing cinematic career for more than five decades, Dennis Hopper was born on May 17, 1936 in Dodge City, Kansas. The young Hopper expressed interest in acting from a young age and first appeared in a slew of 1950s television series, including "Medic" (1954), "Cheyenne" (1955) and "Sugarfoot" (1957). His first film role was in Johnny Guitar (1954), which was quickly followed by roles in Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Giant (1956) and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957). Hopper actually became good friends with James Dean and was shattered when Dean was killed in a car crash on September 30, 1955.
Hopper portrayed a young Napoléon Bonaparte (!) in the star-spangled The Story of Mankind (1957) and regularly appeared on screen throughout the 1960s, often in rather undemanding parts, usually as a villain in westerns such as True Grit (1969) and Hang 'Em High (1968). However, in early 1969, Hopper, fellow actor Peter Fonda and writer Terry Southern, wrote a counterculture road movie script and managed to scrape together $400,000 in financial backing. Hopper directed the low-budget film, titled Easy Rider (1969), starring Fonda, Hopper and a young Jack Nicholson. The film was a phenomenal box-office success, appealing to the anti-establishment youth culture of the times. It changed the Hollywood landscape almost overnight and major studios all jumped onto the anti-establishment bandwagon, pumping out low-budget films about rebellious hippies, bikers, draft dodgers and pot smokers. However, Hopper's next directorial effort, The Last Movie (1971), was a critical and financial failure, and he has admitted that during the 1970s he was seriously abusing various substances, both legal and illegal, which led to a downturn in the quality of his work. He appeared in a sparse collection of European-produced films over the next eight years, before cropping up in a memorable performance as a pot-smoking photographer alongside Marlon Brando and Martin Sheen in Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now (1979). He also received acclaim for his work in both acting and direction for Out of the Blue (1980).
With these two notable efforts, the beginning of the 1980s saw a renaissance of interest by Hollywood in the talents of Dennis Hopper and exorcising the demons of drugs and alcohol via a rehabilitation program meant a return to invigorating and provoking performances. He was superb in Rumble Fish (1983), co-starred in the tepid spy thriller The Osterman Weekend (1983), played a groovy school teacher in My Science Project (1985), was a despicable and deranged drug dealer in River's Edge (1986) and, most memorably, electrified audiences as foul-mouthed Frank Booth in the eerie and erotic David Lynch film Blue Velvet (1986). Interestingly, the offbeat Hopper was selected in the early 1980s to provide the voice of "The StoryTeller" in the animated series of "Rabbit Ears" children's films based upon the works of Hans Christian Andersen!
Hopper returned to film direction in the late 1980s and was at the helm of the controversial gang film Colors (1988), which was well received by both critics and audiences. He was back in front of the cameras for roles in Super Mario Bros. (1993), got on the wrong side of gangster Christopher Walken in True Romance (1993), led police officer Keanu Reeves and bus passenger Sandra Bullock on a deadly ride in Speed (1994) and challenged gill-man Kevin Costner for world supremacy in Waterworld (1995). The enigmatic Hopper has continued to remain busy through the 1990s and into the new century with performances in The Night We Called It a Day (2003), The Keeper (2004) and Land of the Dead (2005).
As well as his acting/directing talents, Hopper was a skilled photographer and painter, having had his works displayed in galleries in both the United States and overseas. He was additionally a dedicated and knowledgeable collector of modern art and has one of the most extensive collections in the United States. Dennis Hopper died of prostate cancer on May 29, 2010, less than two weeks after his 74th birthday.
|Victoria Duffy||(12 April 1996 - 29 May 2010) (his death) 1 child|
|Katherine LaNasa||(17 June 1989 - April 1992) (divorced) 1 child|
|Daria Halprin||(14 May 1972 - 1976) (divorced) 1 child|
|Michelle Phillips||(31 October 1970 - 8 November 1970) (divorced)|
|Brooke Hayward||(9 August 1961 - 1969) (divorced) 1 child|
Frequently played sadistic villains
His 1970 marriage to Michelle Phillips lasted just a few days, during his wild and woolly, drug-fueled period. She also appears briefly in The Last Movie (1971), Hopper's almost-disastrously appropriately entitled solo directorial effort, following Easy Rider (1969). At one point in this era, Hopper was arrested after he was found raving, naked. After early success as a child star in theater, his movie career was practically stillborn when Louis B. Mayer banned him from the MGM lot after Hopper responded forcefully, in kind, when the mogul belittled his desire to play Shakespearen roles.
His house in Venice Beach, Los Angeles, is a radical architectural statement.
Ranked #87 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. [October 1997]
Dennis Hopper married Victoria Duffy in Boston, at the Old South Church.
Lamenting to an audience Q & A in Sydney that he had "never had any great roles", Hopper nominated Splendor in the Grass (1961) as the one he most wished he'd been given.
Belongs to the Top 100 collectors of modern art.
Had his photography exhibited at Fort Worth, Denver, Wichita, Cochran, and Spileto art museums, as well as the Parco Gallery and in the cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Kumatomo, Japan.
As a youngster in Kansas City, he took classes taught by legendary painter Thomas Hart Benton, who told him: "One day you'll learn to get tight, and paint loose.".
After his run-in with director Henry Hathaway, was blackballed from major Hollywood feature film roles from 1958 until 1965, during which time he was busy working on television.
1 September 2000 - A Canadian judge dismissed marijuana charges against Hopper stemming from an October 1999 arrest in Calgary.
In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), he says "Boys, boys, boys." when he first meets Leatherface and the Sawyer family. Hopper says the exact same thing when he first meets the heroes in Super Mario Bros. (1993).
Dennis and Victoria Duffy Hopper's first child, daughter Galen Grier Hopper, was born on March 26, 2003 in Los Angeles, California.
His parents are Jay and Marjorie Hopper. His father died in 1982 and his mother remarried.
Graduate of Helix High School, La Mesa, California. Class of 1954, which voted him "Most Likely to Succeed".
Hopper is quoted in the book "Marilyn Beck's Hollywood" (1973) as saying that the Manson Massacre of Sharon Tate and friends was the backlash from a sex and drugs party the week previously, in which a drug dealer was tied up and whipped before a crowd for selling "bad dope" to the residents of 10050 Cielo Drive. As can be seen by Rip Torn's success in prosecuting a defamation suit against Hopper in the 1990s, he is not the most reliable witness to history.
James Dean learned he had an interest in photography when they worked together, and encouraged him to pursue it as an alternative to just being an actor. Hopper published a book of photos in the late 1980s, including pictures of stars he had known, and thanked Dean.
Provided the narration for the Gorillaz song "Fire Coming Out of the Monkey's Head".
Member of the United States Republican Party.
His performance as Frank Booth in Blue Velvet (1986) is ranked #54 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
His acting career has taken him all over the world, and to date he has filmed movies in over 22 countries. (May 2007).
Despite his Republican affiliations, he intentionally parodied Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld while playing the greedy, racist villain, Mr. Kaufman in Land of the Dead (2005). He also endorsed and voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 election, and criticized the selection of Sarah Palin on the Republican ticket.
Alumni of the Lee Strasberg Institute.
He thinks that the worst movie that he has ever done was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986).
Was due to appear in the "Doctor Who" 2007 Christmas special, "Doctor Who: Voyage of the Damned (#4.0)" (2007), guest starring along with Kylie Minogue. However, Hopper was not available for long enough, so the part had to be recast. Clive Swift, eventually, took on Hopper's intended role, "Mr. Copper".
In 1999, he, his young son, Henry, and two buddies were in Jamaica, heading to a golf course to play a few holes. As they drove through a small village, a speeding truck barreled head-on into their car. Hopper's friends were badly injured in the crash -- broken legs, head traumas -- but Hopper climbed out of the passenger seat without a scratch. He pulled Henry, then 10 years old, from the backseat, covered in splattered blood, also eerily unhurt. "At that point, I really thought, maybe there is a force looking out for me, because I can't figure out how we survived," Hopper said.
Rushed to a New York City hospital with flu-like symptoms on September 30, 2009.
On 29 October 2009, he revealed that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2002.
Hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles shortly before Christmas 2009.
Lives in Venice, California.
Received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on March 26, 2010.
Was in the process of divorcing Victoria Duffy at the time of his death. He filed for divorce in January 2010.
His personal assistant accused Victoria Duffy of trying to kill Hopper during their legal divorce proceedings in 2010.
Was laid to rest in Ranchos De Taos, New Mexico on June 2, 2010. His son, Henry Hopper read from Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" and the funeral was attended by Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda and Val Kilmer.
One of three cast members of the film Rebel Without a Cause (1955) to have died within the first six months of 2010. He was followed in death by castmates Corey Allen and was predeceased by Steffi Sidney.
Buried in Taos, New Mexico.
Uncle of 'Tiffany Lee Hopper'.
Died 10 days after his 74th birthday.
After Dean's death, Hopper's studio tried to brand him as "the next James Dean".
: Like all artists I want to cheat death a little and contribute something to the next generation.
In the 50s, when me and Natalie Wood and James Dean and Nick Adams and Tony Perkins (Anthony Perkins) suddenly arrived... God, it was a whole group of us that sort of felt like that earlier group - the John Barrymores, Errol Flynns, Sinatras, Clifts - were a little farther out than we were... So we tried to emulate that lifestyle. For instance, once Natalie and I decided we'd have an orgy. And Natalie says "O.K., but we have to have a champagne bath." So we filled the bathtub full of champagne. Natalie takes off her clothes, sits down in the champagne, starts screaming. We take her to the emergency hospital. That was *our* orgy, you understand?
[Quote from 2001]: I've been sober now for 18 years. With all the drugs, psychedelics and narcotics I did, I was [really] an alcoholic. Honestly, I only used to do cocaine so I could sober up and drink more. My last five years of drinking was a nightmare. I was drinking a half-gallon of rum with a fifth of rum on the side, in case I ran out, 28 beers a day, and three grams of cocaine just to keep me moving around. And I thought I was doing fine because I wasn't crawling around drunk on the floor.
I've been a Republican since Reagan. I voted for Bush and his father. I don't tell a lot of people, because I live in a city where somebody who voted for Bush is really an outcast.
I should have been dead ten times over. I've thought about that a lot. I believe in miracles. It's an absolute miracle that I'm still around.
[on James Dean] Jimmy was the most talented and original actor I ever saw work. He was also a guerrilla artist who attacked all restrictions on his sensibility. Once he pulled a switchblade and threatened to murder his director. I imitated his style in art and in life. It got me in a lot of trouble.
[about his 8 days marriage with Michelle Phillips] The first seven were pretty good.
The alcohol was awful. I was a terrible alcoholic. I mean, people used to ask how much drugs I did. I said, 'I only do drugs so I can drink more'. I was doing the coke so I could drink more. I mean, I don't know any other reason. I'd start drinking in the morning. I'd drink all day long.
There are moments that I've had some real brilliance, you know. But I think they are moments. And sometimes, in a career, moments are enough. I never felt I played the great part. I never felt that I directed the great movie. And I can't say that it's anybody's fault but my own.
[on his Elegy (2008/I) co-star Penélope Cruz] I was aware of her, but when I saw this film, she is amazing. For the first time, I really looked at her as a woman - she's like a Sophia Loren, she's like this earth mother who has power. I was really impressed with her when I saw the film.
I am just a middle-class farm boy from Dodge City and my grandparents were wheat farmers. I thought painting, acting, directing and photography was all part of being an artist. I have made my money that way. And I have had some fun. It's not been a bad life.
I made a picture called Super Mario Bros. (1993), and my six-year-old son at the time - he's now 18 - he said, "Dad, I think you're probably a pretty good actor, but why did you play that terrible guy "King Koopa" in "Super Mario Bros."?" and I said, "Well Henry, I did that so you could have shoes", and he said, "Dad, I don't need shoes that badly".
I voted for Bush, father and son, but this time I'll vote for Obama. I was the first person in my family to have been Republican. For most of my life, I wasn't on the Left. I pray God Barack Obama is elected.
[on the years 1961 to 1967] I'm not really a person that looks back on my life, because it wasn't that pleasant to me. I have a lot of great memories, but I don't go there, because there are really dark memories too. The only regret I could have is that I wasn't directing movies. And that I wasn't really getting good parts. But I had a wonderful art experience during that period (his photography), and a life experience which I don't think I would trade, even for directing a movie. Because it was really a wonderful time. No, I don't think I would change anything.
[on Super Mario Bros. (1993)] It was a nightmare, very honestly, that movie. It was a husband-and-wife directing team who were both control freaks and wouldn't talk before they made decisions. Anyway, I was supposed to go down there for five weeks, and I was there for 17. It was so over budget.
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