Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hollywood hero Dennis Hopper has died at age 74.

Date of Birth
17 May 1936, Dodge City, Kansas, USA

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 shows, 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 in September, 1955.
Hopper, who was twice nominated for Oscars and earned a star this year on the of Fame, died Saturday at his home in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles, family friend Alex Hitz said. Hopper had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009.

"We rode the highways of America and changed the way movies were made in Hollywood," Peter Fonda, his "Easy Rider" co-star, said in comments carried by several news outlets. "I was blessed by his passion and friendship."

The success of "Easy Rider" and failure of his next film, "The Last Movie," fit the pattern for the talented but wild Hopper, who also had parts in such favorites as "Rebel Without a Cause," "Apocalypse Now," "Blue Velvet" and "Hoosiers."

Other tributes were posted on celebrities' websites and Twitter feeds.

"So long Dennis," actress Virginia Madsen, who starred in the Hopper-directed "The Hot Spot," said on her Twitter page. "U taught me so much."

After a promising start that included roles in two James Dean films, Hopper's acting career languished as he developed a reputation for tantrums and drug abuse. On the set of "True Grit," Hopper so angered John Wayne that the star reportedly chased Hopper with a loaded gun.

"Much of Hollywood," wrote critic-historian David Thomson, "found Hopper a pain in the neck."

All was forgiven when he collaborated with Fonda on a script about two pot-smoking, drug-dealing hippies on a cross-country motorcycle trip.

On the way, Hopper and Fonda befriend a drunken young lawyer (Jack Nicholson in a breakout role) but arouse the enmity of Southern rednecks and are murdered before they can return home.

"'Easy Rider' was never a motorcycle movie to me," Hopper said in 2009. "A lot of it was about politically what was going on in the country."

The establishment gave official blessing in 1998 when "Easy Rider" was included in the United States National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

Its success prompted studio heads to schedule a new kind of movie: low cost, with inventive photography and themes about a restive baby boom generation. With Hopper hailed as a brilliant filmmaker, Universal Pictures lavished $850,000 on his next project, "The Last Movie."

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