Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dennis Hopper, 1936-2010. R.I.P.

Actor Dennis Hopper has died from complications of prostate cancer. He was 74.

Hopper is best known for starring and directing Easy Rider. But Hopper's acting career began in the 1950's when he co-starred with James Dean in both Rebel Without a Cause and Giant. He also was frequently seen on television in shows like Gunsmoke, Bonanza and The Big Valley.

Despite his immense talent, Hopper had a volatile disposition that was exacerbated by excessive drug use. This would impede his career for nearly a decade following Easy Rider. But Hopper would win critical acclaim for his work in the 1979 film Apocalypse Now playing a deranged photographer. It is worth noting that Hopper was an accomplished photographer. Hopper also won praise the following year for his directing and acting in Out of the Blue.

But Hopper really hit his stride in the mid to late 1980's with roles in films like River's Edge, Blue Velvet and Hoosiers. Hopper would earn an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Hoosiers. He would also direct the film Colors starring Robert Duvall and Sean Penn.

Hopper also appeared in the 1994 film Speed and in the first season of 24.

In March, Hopper was honored with a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. His weight loss was dramatic and he was also sporting a bandage near his right eye. It would prove to be his last public appearance.

Complicating matters was a bitter divorce from his fifth wife Victoria Duffy.

Although Hopper was considered a countercultural icon his politics gradually became more conservative as he found "less government, more individual freedom" increasingly appealing and began voting Republican starting with Ronald Reagan.

Hopper would even appear in David Zucker's 2005 conservative satire An American Carol. Curiously, Gary Coleman (who died yesterday) also had a part in that film.

However, Hopper would cast his final ballot in 2008 for Barack Obama. During an appearance on The View he said that Sarah Palin "finally sent me over to the other side."

Not that it matters now but I can't help but wonder if he regretted his vote.

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