Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dennis Hopper dead at 74

Dennis Hopper dead at 74

Actor had praised Hollywood as his 'home and my schooling'

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Image: Dennis Hopper
Matt Sayles / AP file
Dennis Hopper is seen in 2008, before he was diagnosed with cancer.
TODAY news services
updated 5/29/2010 10:22:00 AM

LOS ANGELES — Hollywood actor Dennis Hopper, best known for directing and starring in the 1969 cult classic "Easy Rider," died on Saturday at his home in Venice, California, from complications of prostate cancer, a friend told Reuters. Hopper was 74.
The hard-living screen icon died at 8:15 a.m. PT, surrounded by family and friends, said the friend, Alex Hitz.
The two-time Oscar nominee, who appeared in more than 100 films, last March got a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, saying he came to Hollywood from his native Kansas at 18, "so that was my college."
"Everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned from Hollywood," he said. "This has been my home and my schooling."
In a wildly varied career spanning more than 50 years, Hopper appeared alongside his mentor James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause" and "Giant" in the 1950s and played maniacs in such films as "Apocalypse Now," "Blue Velvet" and "Speed."
He received two Oscar nominations — for writing "EasyRider" (with co-star Peter Fonda and Terry Southern), and for a rare heartwarming turn as an alcoholic high-school basketball coach in the 1986 drama "Hoosiers."
"Easy Rider," regarded is one of the greatest films of American cinema, helped usher in a new era in which the old Hollywood guard was forced to cede power to young filmmakers such as Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese.
The low-budget blockbuster, originally conceived by Fonda, introduced mainstream moviegoers to pot-smoking, cocaine-dealing, long-haired bikers.
"We'd gone through the whole '60s and nobody had made a film about anybody smoking grass without going out and killing a bunch of nurses," Hopper told Entertainment Weekly in 2005. "I wanted 'Easy Rider' to be a time capsule for people about that period."
Hopper and Fonda were joined on screen by a then-unknown Jack Nicholson as an alcoholic lawyer, but it was not a harmonious set. Hopper clashed violently with everyone and Fonda later described him as a "little fascist freak." Their friendship was destroyed.
Hopper fell ill last September. He continued working almost to the very end, both on his cable TV series "Crash" and on a book showcasing his photography. But his final months were also consumed by a bitter divorce battle with his fifth wife, Victoria Duffy.
Indeed, his private life was never dull. His marriages included an eight-day union in 1970 with Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and Papas, who later told Vanity Fair that she was subjected to "excruciating" treatment.
Hopper is survived by four children.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


  1. Well, that sucks. The world has lost one of its truly creative whack-jobs.

    I know a lot of my older friends (maybe you too?) think "Easy Rider" when they think of Dennis Hopper, but to me he'll always be Frank Booth. Here's a treat (which I'm still debating whether to put on my own page -- it's a bit harsh):

    If Pabst Blue Ribbon didn't actually taste like goat piss, I would drink it just because of that line in the movie.

  2. Well Ben, this is my second attempt to post a reply...

    Easy Rider is truly a classic Cult Film and I have it in my DVD Library. I worked with Dennis in Apocalypse Now where he drove Coppola absolutely nuts.

    Whack Job? Yes indeed! There is always a bit of insanity when you are a genius as Dennis was.

    Blue Velvet is another favorite film. Disturbing to some while entertaining to others. I will post the you tube as I am not squeamish and I doubt if my readers are either!

  3. I've somehow always had the impression it wasn't too hard to drive Coppola nuts. I imagine Dennis Hopper was especially good at it. You know, it's a depressing time in some respects. Just in the last two weeks we've had two good artists shuffle off this mortal coil, and look at the shitheads we're left with.

    Been having trouble with your Internet today? Mine has been for shit. Good thing it's the holiday weekend and not much to do, else it would really piss me off. Now I can spend time trying to figure out how to make "Heineken! Fuck that shit!" my ringtone.

  4. Coppola was pretty laid back considering it was all of his own money he was spending. Dennis pissed him off because he would get fried on acid (Sam Bottoms brought a full plastic bag over with him) and couldn't remember his lines but would ad lib and it came out better than the lines that Francis wrote. The other thing that pissed off Francis was Brando. He was supposed to have gone on a diet and lost weight. However, when he arrived here, he was a 300lb butter ball... LMAO!

    My internet is ok. I have Globe DSL and it is just fine. In fact I downloaded several movies, and worked on my marketing website. If you get that ringtone worked out, please send it over!

  5. I've got Globe Wimax, wotta ripoff.


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