Los Angeles: Dennis Hopper, the high-flying Hollywood wild man whose memorable and erratic career included an early turn in Rebel Without a Cause, an improbable smash with Easy Rider and a classic character role in Blue Velvet, has died. He was 74.
Hopper died on Saturday at his home in Los Angeles, family friend Alex Hitz said. Hopper’s manager announced in October that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
The success of Easy Rider, and the spectacular failure of his next film, The Last Movie, fit the pattern for the talented but sometimes uncontrollable actor-director, who also had parts in such favourites as Apocalypse Now and Hoosiers. He was a two-time Academy Award nominee, and in March was honoured with a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
After a promising start that included roles in two James Dean films, Hopper’s acting career had languished as he developed a reputation for throwing tantrums and abusing alcohol and drugs. “Much of Hollywood,” wrote critic-historian David Thomson, “found Hopper a pain in the neck.”
Dennis Lee Hopper was born in 1936, in Dodge City, Kansas. He saw his first movie at five and became enthralled. After moving to San Diego with his family, he played Shakespeare at the Old Globe Theater.
Scouted by the studios, Hopper was under contract to Columbia until he insulted the boss, Harry Cohn. From there he went to Warner Bros, where he made Rebel... and Giant with Dean while in his late teens. Later, he moved to New York to study at the Actors Studio, where Dean had learnt his craft.
Hopper married five times. In January, he filed to end his 14-year marriage to Victoria Hopper.
His first wife was Brooke Hayward, author of the best-selling memoir Haywire, whom he divorced after eight years.
His second marriage, to singer-actress Michelle Phillips lasted only eight days.
A union with actress Daria Halprin also ended in divorce. Hopper and his fourth wife, dancer Katherine LaNasa, had a son, Henry, before divorcing.
He married his fifth wife, Victoria Duffy, who was 32 years his junior, in 1996.