Dennis Hopper, Iconic Film Rebel, Dies at 74
Dennis Hopper, 74, the iconic Hollywood tough guy who starred in Easy Rider and Apocalypse Now, died on Saturday after a long battle with prostate cancer. "Dennis Hopper died this morning at 8:15 am (15:15 pm GMT) from complications of metastasized prostate cancer," Hopper’s manager Sam Maydew confirmed in a statement. "He died at home in Venice surrounded by family and friends."
Born in Kansas in 1936, Hopper enjoyed a career as an artist, actor and director spanning 55 years. His family relocated to California when he was a child and, after developing an interest in acting, Hopper made his TV debut with a small role in U.S. series Medic in 1955. He went on to land two roles alongside his idol James Dean – in 1950s releases Rebel Without a Cause and Giant. After moving to the East Coast and completing a training course at New York’s famous Actors Studio, Hopper’s career began to pick up pace and he became a TV regular on U.S. shows such as The Defenders, Bonanza, The Legend of Jesse James and Combat!
Hopper made brief appearances in Paul Newman’s Cool Hand Luke and alongside John Wayne in The Sons of Katie Elder (1965) and True Grit (1969), while his more recognised roles include Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979), Out of the Blue (1980) and Rumble Fish (1983).
But Hopper will perhaps be best remembered for pulling double duty on 1969’s Easy Rider, which he directed and starred in alongside Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson.
The movie earned Hopper critical acclaim, but his screen success was marred by trouble in his personal life – the star’s eight-year marriage to first wife Brooke Hayward crumbled and he struggled with drug and alcohol abuse. A year later, in 1970, Hopper rushed to wed Michelle Phillips – the disastrous union lasted just one week amid allegations of cocaine addiction and spousal abuse.
His private life hit the headlines again in the early 1980s when Hopper had a brush with death in an incident involving 17 sticks of dynamite near Houston, Texas, and it was only after finding himself stranded in a Mexican desert while drunk and on drugs that he checked himself into rehab in 1983. Hopper kicked his addictions and marked his Hollywood comeback with critically acclaimed performances in 1986’s Blue Velvet, with director David Lynch, Hoosiers, for which he earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination, and 1988’s Colors.
He returned to TV on numerous occasions and in 2002 appeared in Kiefer Sutherland’s hit show 24, as well as government drama E-Ring in 2005, and Crash in 2008 to 2009, a series based on the Oscar-winning movie of the same name.
His marriage to fifth wife Victoria Duffy, who he wed in 1996, also deteriorated in his final months – the actor filed for divorce in January, citing irreconcilable differences. He obtained a restraining order against her after his doctor claimed she was "hampering his cancer care."
The estranged couple was subsequently ordered to resolve their differences for the sake of their daughter Galen, who was born in 2003, and in April, Hopper was forced to pay Duffy $12,000-a-month in spousal and child support. Hopper is also survived by his three other children from previous marriages. The actor fathered Marin with first wife Hayward in 1962; Ruthanna with Daria Halprin in the early 1970s, and son Henry, born in 1990, with Katherine LaNasa.