US Actor Dennis Hopper Dead At 74

30 May

LOS ANGELES: US actor and director Dennis Hopper, a counter-culture icon who worked with Hollywood legends including James Dean and Marlon Brando, died Saturday at age 74, his manager said.

The actor, who shot to fame following his screen debut in the 1955 classic “Rebel Without a Cause” and later spent years mired in alcohol- and drug-abuse, had been suffering from terminal prostate cancer and died at his home in California.

“Dennis Hopper died this morning at 8:15 am (1515 GMT) from complications of metastasized prostate cancer. He died at home in Venice surrounded by family and friends,” manager Sam Maydew said in a statement sent to AFP.

Hopper appeared in more than 100 movies, but was perhaps best known for his turn as both actor and director in the 1969 road movie classic “Easy Rider,”

which also starred Peter Fonda and a young Jack Nicholson.

The film was wildly successful, going on to become a cult classic, and earned Hopper and co-writers Fonda and Terry Southern an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay in 1970.

Its anti-establishment credo and attractive low budget meant it went far toward prodding often risk-averse Hollywood toward producing a raft of low-budget copycat flicks.

“Dennis introduced me to the world of Pop Art and ‘lost’ films,” Fonda, who remained a close friend, told celebrity website TMZ upon Hopper’s death.

“We rode the highways of America and changed the way movies were made in Hollywood. I was blessed by his passion and friendship.”

Hopper’s work was heavily overshadowed by drug and alcohol issues in the 1970s. By 1979, he appeared as a pot-smoking photographer alongside Brando in Francis Ford Coppola’s landmark Vietnam War film “Apocalypse Now.”

If there was a professional comeback to speak of after his time on the dark side, Hopper owed it to director David Lynch.

Lynch cast Hopper as Frank Booth, the psychopathic killer in the eery 1986 film “Blue Velvet.” That same year, he was cast as an alcoholic in “Hoosiers” alongside Gene Hackman, and earned a second Oscar nomination, for best supporting actor.

He also had roles in “Giant” alongside Dean and Elizabeth Taylor, “Coolhand Luke,” “Rumble Fish,” “True Romance,” and “Speed,” and directed 1971’s “The Last Movie” and 1988’s “Colors.”

But in recent years, Hopper was more likely to be making headlines with news of his health and his troubled marriage than with his work.

In October 2009, his manager revealed the actor was undergoing treatment for prostate cancer and just three months later, court records showed Hopper had filed for divorce from his wife of nearly 14 years.

The divorce became a public and bitter battle that ended with Hopper agreeing to pay his wife and daughter some 12,000 dollars in monthly spousal and child support.

Hopper did not attend the April court session where the support amount was announced, with his lawyer saying the actor weighed less than 100 pounds (45 kilograms).

In late March, he did attend the ceremony unveiling his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, flanked by some of the many screen legends he worked with over a career spanning over half a century.

“Everyone here today that I’ve invited and obviously some that I haven’t invited have enriched my life tremendously,” Hopper said.

“They’ve shown me a world that I would never have seen being a farm boy from Dodge City, Kansas, and learning things I would never have learned.”

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce said flowers were to be placed in tribute on Hopper’s star on Hollywood Boulevard. – AFP/fa

Channel News Asia

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