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Dennis Hopper (1936)

Dennis Lee Hopper

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  Summary  

Dennis Lee Hopper (May 17, 1936– May 29, 2010) was an American actor, filmmaker and artist. As a young man, Hopper became interested in acting and eventually became a student of the Actors' Studio. He made his first television appearance in 1954 and appeared in two films featuring James Dean, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant . During the next 10 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 , winning an award at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay as co-writer. "With its portrait of counterculture heroes raising their middle fingers to the uptight middle-class hypocrisies, Easy Rider became the cinematic symbol of the 1960s, a celluloid anthem to freedom, macho bravado and anti-establishment rebellion." Film critic Matthew Hays notes that "no other persona better signifies the lost idealism of the 1960s than that of Dennis Hopper."

He was unable to build on his success for several years, until a featured role in Apocalypse Now brought him attention. He subsequently appeared in Rumble Fish and The Osterman Weekend , 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 and played the villain in Speed . He played another villain, King Koopa, in Super Mario Bros. . Hopper's later work included a leading role in the television series Crash. Hopper's last performance was filmed just before his death: The Last Film Festival, slated for a 2011 release. Hopper was also a prolific and acclaimed photographer, a profession he began in the 1960s.

  Biography  

 early life
Hopper was born in Dodge City, Kansas, the son of Marjorie Mae (née Davis, July 12, 1917 - January 12, 2007) and Jay Millard Hopper (June 23, 1916 – August 7, 1982). Hopper had two brothers, Marvin and David.

After World War II, the family moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where the young Hopper attended Saturday art classes at the Kansas City Art Institute. 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 was voted most likely to succeed at Helix High School, where he was active in the drama club, speech and choir. It was there that he developed an interest in acting, studying at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, and the Actors' Studio in New York City . 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.

 film career
Hopper 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 made his debut on film in two roles with James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause and Giant . 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 80 takes over several days.

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. In 1959 Hopper moved to New York to study Method acting under Lee Strasberg at the Actor's Studio. In 1961, Hopper played his first lead role in Night Tide, an atmospheric supernatural thriller involving a mermaid in an abandoned amusement park.

In a December 1994 interview on the Charlie Rose Show, Hopper credited John Wayne with saving his career, as Hopper acknowledged that because of his insolent behavior, he could not find work in Hollywood for seven years. Hopper stated that because he was the son-in-law of actress Margaret Sullavan, a friend of John Wayne, Wayne hired Hopper for a role in The Sons of Katie Elder. This role enabled Hopper to begin making movies again.
1990 Catchfire directed by Hopper Also starring Jody Foster

Hopper had a supporting role as "Babalugats," the bet-taker in Cool Hand Luke . Hopper acted in mainstream films including The Sons of Katie Elder and True Grit . Both of these films starred John Wayne, and in both Hopper's character is killed in the presence of Wayne's character to whom he utters his dying words. During the production of True Grit, he became well acquainted with Wayne.

In 1968, Hopper teamed with Peter Fonda, Terry Southern and Jack Nicholson to make Easy Rider, which premiered in July 1969. With the release of True Grit a month earlier, Hopper had starring roles in two major box office films that summer. Hopper won wide acclaim as the director for his improvisational methods and innovative editing for Easy Rider. 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 (like the inclusion of "scene missing" card shots) 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 at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, New Mexico, which he had purchased in 1970, for almost an entire year. In between contesting Fonda's rights to the majority of the residual profits from Easy Rider, he married Michelle Phillips in October 1970.

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 , Tracks , and The American Friend . With Francis Ford Coppola's blockbuster Apocalypse Now , Hopper returned to prominence as a hypo-manic Vietnam-era photojournalist. 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 Neil Young/Dean Stockwell low-budget collaboration Human Highway. Production was reportedly 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 30 beers, marijuana, and Cuba libres.

After staging a "suicide attempt" in a coffin using 17 sticks of dynamite during an "art happening" at the Rice University Media Center , and later disappearing into the Mexican desert during a particularly extravagant bender, Hopper entered a drug rehabilitation program in 1983. During this period, he gave critically acclaimed performances in Rumble Fish and The Osterman Weekend .

It was not until he portrayed the gas-huffing, obscenity-screaming iconic villain Frank Booth in David Lynch's Blue Velvet 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 his role as an alcoholic basketball lover in 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 . The same year he starred as King Koopa in Super Mario Bros., a 1993 critical and commercial failure loosely based on the video game of the same name. In 1993 he played Clifford Worley in True Romance. He co-starred in the 1994 blockbuster Speed with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, and as magic-phobic H. P. Lovecraft in the TV movie "Witch Hunt". Also 1990 Hopper directed Catchfire, playing leading role with Jody Foster

In 1995, Hopper played a greedy TV self help guru, Dr. Luther Waxling in Search and Destroy. The same 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. In 2005, Hopper played Paul Kaufman in George A. Romero's Land of the Dead. In 2008, Hopper starred in An American Carol. His last major feature film appearance was in the 2008 film Elegy with Sir Ben Kingsley, Penélope Cruz and Debbie Harry. For his last performance, he was the voice of Tony, the alpha-male of the Eastern wolf pack inside the 2010 3D computer animated film Alpha and Omega. He died before the movie was released. This brought the directors to dedicate the film to his memory.

 television work
Hopper debuted in an episode of the Richard Boone television series Medic in 1955, portraying a young epileptic.

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.

He subsequently appeared in over 140 episodes of television shows such as Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Petticoat Junction, The Twilight Zone, The Barbara Stanwyck Show, The Defenders, The Investigators, The Legend of Jesse James, Entourage, The Big Valley, The Time Tunnel, The Rifleman in which he appeared in the premier episode as a sharpshooter and Combat!.

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 as a U.S. Army colonel in the NBC 2005 television series E-Ring, a drama set at The Pentagon, but the series was cancelled after 14 episodes aired in the USA. Hopper appeared in all 22 episodes that were filmed. He also played the part of record producer Ben Cendars in the Starz television series Crash.

 personal life
According to Rolling Stone magazine, he was "one of Hollywood's most notorious drug addicts" for 20 years. He spent much of the 1970s and early 1980s living as "an outcast" in a small town after the success of Easy Rider. Hopper was also "notorious for his troubled relationships with women," including Michelle Phillips, who divorced him after less than two weeks of marriage. Hopper was married five times in total — he was in the process of divorcing Victoria Duffy, his wife of 14 years, at the time of his death — and was survived by:
  • Brooke Hayward , daughter of Leland Hayward and Margaret Sullavan; married 1961 – divorced 1969, 1 child, daughter Marin Hopper
  • Michelle Phillips ; married 31 October 1970 – divorced 8 November 1970
  • Daria Halprin ; married 1972 – divorced 1976, 1 child, daughter Ruthanna Hopper
  • Katherine LaNasa ; married June 17, 1989 – divorced April 1992, 1 child, son Henry Lee Hopper
  • Victoria Duffy ; married April 13, 1996 – separated January 12, 2010, 1 child, daughter Galen Grier Hopper

Hopper has two granddaughters, Violet Goldstone and Ella Brill.

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 $475,000 in damages. Hopper then appealed but the judge again ruled in Torn's favor and Hopper was required to pay another $475,000 in punitive damages.

According to Newsmeat, Hopper donated $2,000 to the Republican National Committee in 2004 and an equal amount in 2005.

Hopper has been honored with the rank of commander of France's National Order of Arts and Letters, at a ceremony in Paris.

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.

 Divorce from Victoria Duffy
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 was forbidden to come within of him or contact him. On March 9, 2010, Duffy refused to move out of the Hopper home, despite the court's order that she do so by March 15.

On March 23, 2010, Hopper filed papers in court alleging Duffy had absconded with $1.5 million of his art, refused his requests to return it, and then had "left town".

On April 5, 2010, a court ruled that Duffy could continue living on Hopper's property, and that he must pay $12,000 per month spousal and child support for their daughter Galen. Hopper did not attend the hearing. On May 12, 2010, a hearing was held before Judge Amy Pellman in downtown Los Angeles Superior Court. Though Hopper died two weeks later, Duffy insisted at the hearing that he was well enough to be deposed. The hearing also addressed who to designate on Hopper's life insurance policy; it currently lists his wife as a beneficiary. A very ill Hopper did not appear in court though his estranged wife did – case BD518046. Despite Duffy's bid to be named the sole designee of Hopper's million-dollar life insurance policy, the judge ruled against her and limited her claim to one-quarter of the policy. The remaining $750,000 was designated to go to his estate.

On November 14, 2010, it was revealed that (despite Duffy's earlier assertion in her court papers of February 2010 that Hopper was mentally incompetent, and that his children had rewritten his estate plan in order to leave Duffy and her daughter, Hopper's youngest child Galen, destitute) in fact Galen would be receiving the proceeds of 40% of his estate.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Dennis Hopper", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.