Iconoclastic actor and director Dennis Hopper has died at age 74 from prostate cancer, but he leaves behind a legacy of counterculture performances and films which defined his singular career.
Hopper garnered early notoriety in his film debut along side Actors Studio alum James Dean in 1955’s REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, and truly made his mark on American cinema and culture directing 1969’s EASY RIDER, co-starring Peter Fonda. The daring counterculture film helped set off seismic waves of chance in Hollywood and independent filmmaking through the end of the ’60s and early ’70s. The actor capped off this decade of unrest and atypical cinema with his memorable role as the frantic-minded photojournalist in Francis Ford Coppola’s APOCALYPSE NOW.
Amid an acting career spanning half a century, Hopper experience bouts of personal difficulty and health risks due to bouts of drug and alcohol addition, yet his eventual sobriety boosted his career in the mid 1980s. Hopper earned an Academy Award nomination in 1986 for his supporting role aside Gene Hackman in HOOSIERS, the same year he scared audiences silly as psycho killer Frank Booth in David Lynch’s nightmarish BLUE VELVET.
In 1988 Hopper once again helmed the director’s chair with COLORS, and continued working in features and television, most recently in the cable-adapted series CRASH.
Dennis Hopper lived much of his later life in Venice, California where he enjoyed and developed his interests in photography, painting and became a collector of modern art. The distinctive actor-director received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in March, and while appearing quite frail he attended the ceremony honoring his lengthy career.