Dennis Lee Hopper, 1936 - 2010

portrait of Dennis Hopper


Born: 17 May 1936, Dodge City, Kansas
Died: 29 May 2010, Venice, California

Hopper's family moved to Kansas City after WW II where Hopper took art classes from Thomas Hart Benton. They moved to San Diego where Hopper was voted most likely to succeed at Helix High School, La Mesa and took an interest in acting which he developed during five years at the Actors Studio with Lee Strasberg. His first film role was in Rebel Without a Cause, he shot another moved, Giant, with James Dean before that actor's death. He started a separate career in photography in the early sixties, largely portraiture, and he was also a painter and sculptor. He developed a reputation for trouble and didn't find work for a period of seven years before John Wayne got him roles in two movies. In 1969 he was about to give up on acting and become a teacher when he teamed with Peter Fonda, writer Terry Southern, and Rip Torn to film Easy Rider, the first film Hopper directed. After pulling a knife on Torn in a fight, a little-known Jack Nicholson was brought in. Based on the huge success of that he directed The Last Movie, but he holed up in Taos, New Mexico and spent a year dropping LSD and editing a movie that bombed. For the next decade he worked mostly in Europe before he was cast in 1979 as the manic photojournalist in Apocalypse Now. In 1983, when he was going through three grams of cocaine and a gallon of rum a day, he checked himself into drug rehabilitation program which was successful. His output after that was more consistent and directors were more willing to work with him, the Quotemaster thinks his portrayal of the alcoholic former basketball player in Hoosiers was brilliantly done. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in October of 2009, by March of 2010 he weighed only 100 pounds and was unable to sustain conversations. That month he did attend the installation of his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He died at home after the cancer had metastasized into his bones.

Biography from Wikipedia and IMDB

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