Dennis Hopper, 2008
|Born||Dennis Lee Hopper
May 17, 1936
Dodge City, Kansas, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, director, artist|
|Spouse(s)||Brooke Hayward (1961–1969; divorced)
Michelle Phillips (1970; divorced)
Daria Halprin (1972–1976; divorced)
Victoria Duffy (1996–present; divorcing)
Dennis Lee Hopper (born May 17, 1936) is an American actor, filmmaker and artist. Hopper became interested in acting and eventually became a student of the Actors Studio. He made his first television appearance in 1955, and appeared in two films featuring James Dean, Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and Giant (1956). Over the next ten years, Hopper appeared frequently on television in guest roles, and by the end of the 1960s had played supporting roles in several films. He directed and starred in Easy Rider (1969), winning an award at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay as co-writer of the film's script.
He was unable to build on his success for several years, until a featured role in Apocalypse Now (1979) brought him attention. He subsequently appeared in Rumble Fish (1983) and The Osterman Weekend (1983), and received critical recognition for his work in Blue Velvet and Hoosiers, with the latter film garnering him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He directed Colors (1988), and portrayed King Koopa in the film version of Super Mario Bros. (1993) and the villain in Speed (1994). Hopper's more recent work includes a leading role in the television series Crash.
Hopper is a prolific photographer, painter, and sculptor whose works are exhibited worldwide. His photography is known for portraits from the 1960s. His painting style ranges from abstract impressionism to photorealism and often includes references to his cinematic work and to other artists.
Hopper was born in Dodge City, Kansas, the son of Marjorie Mae (née Davis, died 2006) and Jay Millard Hopper (June 1916 - August 1982). After the end of World War II, the family moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where the young Hopper attended Saturday art classes at the Kansas City Art Institute taught by Thomas Hart Benton. At the age of 13, Hopper and his family moved to San Diego, where his mother worked as a lifeguard instructor and his father was a post office manager (Hopper has acknowledged, though, that his father was in the OSS, the precursor to the CIA). Hopper was voted most likely to succeed by his high school class (Helix High School, La Mesa, California, a suburb of San Diego). It was there he developed an interest in acting, studying at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California and the Actors Studio in New York City (studied with Lee Strasberg for five years). Hopper struck up a friendship with actor Vincent Price, whose passion for art influenced Hopper's interest in art. He was especially fond of the plays of William Shakespeare.
Hopper debuted in an episode of the Richard Boone television series Medic in 1955, portraying a young epileptic. He was reported to have an uncredited role in Johnny Guitar in 1954 but he has stated that he was not even in Hollywood when this film was made. Hopper was then cast in two roles with James Dean (whom he admired immensely) in Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and Giant (1956). Dean's death in a 1955 car accident affected the young Hopper deeply and it was shortly afterwards that he got into a confrontation with veteran director Henry Hathaway on the film From Hell To Texas. Hopper refused directions for eighty takes over several days.
He appeared as an arrogant young gunfighter, the Utah Kid, in the 1956 episode "Quicksand" of the first hour-long television western television series, ABC's Cheyenne, starring Clint Walker. In the story line, the Kid gave Cheyenne Bodie no choice but to kill him in a gunfight.
In his book Last Train to Memphis, American popular music historian Peter Guralnick says that in 1956, when Elvis Presley was making his first film in Hollywood, Hopper was roommates with fellow actor Nick Adams and the three became friends and socialized together. Hopper moved to New York and studied at Lee Strasberg's acting school. He appeared in over 140 episodes of television shows such as Bonanza, The Twilight Zone, The Barbara Stanwyck Show, The Defenders, The Investigators, The Legend of Jesse James, The Big Valley, The Time Tunnel, The Rifleman and Combat!. Hopper became a professional photographer, and noted writer Terry Southern profiled Hopper in Better Homes and Gardens magazine as an up and coming photographer "to watch" in the mid 1950s. He was a painter and a poet as well as a collector of art, particularly Pop Art. One of the first art works Hopper owned was an early print of Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans bought for $75.
Hopper had a supporting role as "Babalugats," the bet-taker in Cool Hand Luke (1967). Hopper acted in mainstream films including The Sons of Katie Elder (1965) and True Grit (1969). Both of these films starred John Wayne, and in both Hopper's character is killed. During the production of True Grit, he became well acquainted with Wayne. Although the screen legend would regularly (and good-naturedly) assail Hopper for his archliberal social and political leanings, a genuine kinship developed between the two men.
In 1969, Hopper teamed with Peter Fonda, Terry Southern, and Jack Nicholson to make Easy Rider. Hopper won wide acclaim as the director for his improvisational methods and innovative editing. The production was plagued by creative differences and personal acrimony between Fonda and Hopper, the dissolution of Hopper's marriage to Hayward, his unwillingness to leave the editor's desk, and his accelerating abuse of drugs and alcohol.
In 1971, Hopper released The Last Movie. Expecting an accessible follow-up to Easy Rider, audiences were treated to artistic flourishes (the inclusion of "scene missing" cards) and a hazily existentialist plot that dabbled in non-linearity and the absurd. After finishing first at the Venice Film Festival, the film was dismissed by audiences and critics alike during its first domestic engagement in New York City. During the tumultuous editing process, Hopper ensconced himself in Taos, New Mexico for nearly a year. In between contesting Fonda's rights to the majority of the residual profits from Easy Rider, he married Michelle Phillips in October 1970. Citing spousal abuse and his various addictions, she filed for divorce a week after their wedding.
Hopper was able to sustain his lifestyle and a measure of celebrity by acting in numerous low budget and European films throughout the 1970s as the archetypical "tormented maniac", including Mad Dog Morgan (1976), Tracks (1976), and The American Friend (1977). With Francis Ford Coppola's blockbuster Apocalypse Now (1979), Hopper returned to prominence as a hypomanic Vietnam-era photojournalist, essentially portraying himself in the eyes of many viewers and critics. Stepping in for an overwhelmed director, Hopper won praise in 1980 for his directing and acting in Out of the Blue. Immediately thereafter, Hopper starred as an addled short-order cook "Cracker" in the low-budget Neil Young and Dean Stockwell collaboration Human Highway with the new wave group Devo. Production was often delayed by his unreliable behavior. Peter Biskind states in the New Hollywood history Easy Riders, Raging Bulls that Hopper's cocaine intake had reached three grams a day by this time period, complemented by an additional thirty beers, marijuana, and Cuba libres.
After staging a "suicide attempt" (really more of a daredevil act) using 17 sticks of dynamite at an "art happening" near Houston and later disappearing into the Mexican desert during a particularly extravagant bender, Hopper entered a drug rehabilitation program in 1983. Hopper's "art happening" in Houston took place at Rice University Media Center. A short video of Hopper the demonic master of ceremonies including the "dynamite coffin" stunt was made by Brian Huberman, a local filmmaker and professor at the university. Hopper gave powerful performances in Rumble Fish (1983) and The Osterman Weekend (1983). It was not until he portrayed the gas-huffing, obscenity-screaming iconic villain Frank Booth in David Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986) that his career revived. After reading the script, Hopper called Lynch and told him "You have to let me play Frank Booth. Because I am Frank Booth!" Hopper won critical acclaim and several awards for this role and the same year received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for Hoosiers.
In 1988, Hopper directed the critically-acclaimed Colors. He was nominated for an Emmy award for the 1991 HBO films Paris Trout and Doublecrossed (in which he played real life drug smuggler and DEA informant Barry Seal). He starred in Super Mario Bros. a 1993 critical and commercial failure loosely based on the video game of the same name as King Koopa. Despite the failure of the film, it led to several villainous roles in the following years. He co-starred in the 1994 blockbuster Speed with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. In 1995, Hopper played a greedy TV self help guru, Dr. Luther Waxling in Search and Destroy who professed in his Four Rules that: 1. The past is pointless, 2. Strength needs no excuse, 3. The things you apologize for are the things you really want, and 4. Just because it happened to you, doesn't make it interesting. Also that year, he starred as Deacon, the one-eyed nemesis of Kevin Costner in Waterworld. In 2003, Hopper was in the running for the dual lead in the indie horror drama Firecracker, but was ousted at the last minute in favor of Mike Patton. He contributed to the film 1 Giant Leap with provocative anecdotes on spirituality, unity and culture. He recently co-starred in Elegy with Sir Ben Kingsley, Penelope Cruz and Debbie Harry (Harry plays Hopper's wife in the film).
Hopper teamed with Nike in the early 1990s to make a series of television commercials. He appeared as a "crazed referee" in those ads. He portrayed villain Victor Drazen in the first season of the popular drama 24 on the Fox television network. Hopper starred in the NBC 2005 television series E-Ring, a drama set at The Pentagon, but the series was cancelled after fourteen episodes aired. Hopper plays the part of record producer Ben Cendars in the television series Crash.
Hopper has been married five times and has four children.
In 1999, actor Rip Torn filed a defamation lawsuit against Hopper over a story Hopper told on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Hopper claimed that Torn pulled a knife on him during pre-production of the film Easy Rider. According to Hopper, Torn was originally cast in the film but was replaced with Jack Nicholson after the incident. According to Torn's suit, it was actually Hopper who pulled the knife on him. A judge ruled in Torn's favor and Hopper was ordered to pay US$475,000 in damages. Hopper then appealed but the judge again ruled in Torn's favor and Hopper was required to pay another US$475,000 in punitive damages.
According to Newsmeat, Hopper donated US$2,000 to the Republican National Committee in 2004 and an equal amount in 2005. In Al Franken's book Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot, the author recounts a warm, cordial encounter between Hopper and then-Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. In 2008, Hopper starred in An American Carol, a right-leaning comedy, with Jon Voight, Kelsey Grammer, and James Woods.
Hopper supported Barack Obama in the 2008 US Presidential election. Hopper confirmed this in an election day appearance on the ABC daytime show The View. He said his reason for not voting Republican was the selection of Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential candidate.
On September 30, 2009, news media reported that Hopper has been rushed to a New York hospital for an unspecified condition. Hopper, 73, was reportedly brought into an unidentified Manhattan hospital by an ambulance Monday wearing an oxygen mask and “with numerous tubes visible.” On October 2, he was discharged, after receiving treatment for dehydration.
On October 29, 2009, Hopper's manager reported that Hopper has been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. In January 2010, it was reported that Hopper's cancer had metastasised to his bones. On January 14, 2010, he filed for divorce from his fifth wife, Victoria Duffy. After citing her "outrageous conduct", and stating Duffy was "insane", "inhuman", and "volatile", Hopper was granted a restraining order against her on February 11, 2010, and as a result, she has been forbidden to come within ten feet of him or contact him in any way. On March 9, 2010, Duffy refused to move out of the Hopper compound, despite the court's order that she do so by March 15.
Cannes Film Festival Awards
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Dennis Hopper (May 17, 1936 - May 29, 2010) was an American actor and filmmaker. He was born in Dodge City, Kansas. He has appeared in many movies and television shows, since the 1950s. He was also a photographer, writer, and art collector. On October 29, 2009, his manager announced that Hopper had prostate cancer. He was terminally ill. He died of the disease on May 29, 2010 in Venice, California. He was 74.
In 1994, Hopper had a role in the thriller movie Speed.
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