We lost another great today. Actor/director/artist Dennis Hopper died earlier today (May 29th) at his home of complications from prostate cancer after battling it since last fall. He was 74. Hopper came to fame as the director, co-writer and costar (opposite Peter Fonda) of the 1969 low-budget, drug-fueled film Easy Rider, that was a landmark for the counterculture and a surprise hit. He made his screen acting debut over a decade earlier in 1955's Rebel Without A Cause playing a rival high-school gang member opposite James Dean.
Hopper didn't only play a hard drinking, drug imbibing individual on film. The actor, whose hard partying alcohol and drug reputation preceded him for many years, had his ups-and-downs in Hollywood as a direct result. Not surprising considering that, by his own admission, for one long extended lost weekend that lasted five years, he was consuming on average three grams of coke, a half a gallon of rum, plus a case of beer every day.
But after getting his life back on track his career enjoyed a resurgence. Following being out of the Hollywood spotlight, a newly sobered up Hopper returned to his former glory in 1986 for his Oscar nominated role in Hoosiers, followed that same year by his amazing role as the twisted & deranged character Frank Booth in David Lynch's Blue Velvet (check out the brilliant yet disturbing clip below).
In all, Hopper appeared in well over a hundred different films, including (in no particular order) Apocalypse Now, Giant, True Romance, Cool Hand Luke, Hang 'Em High, True Grit, The American Friend, Rumble Fish, Speed, and River's Edge. Look for these and other Hopper films on DVD at Amoeba Music. Below are some select Hopper movie clips. And check the nice career-long photo dedication to Dennis Hopper on the Washington Post's website.
Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now
Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet
Dennis Hopper with Peter Fonda & Jack Nicholson in Easy Rider