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Actor/director Dennis Hopper came to fame with 1969's Easy Rider. Later films like Blue Velvet and River's Edge cemented his legend.
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Dennis Hopper was born on May 17, 1936, and began his career with small roles in movies like Rebel Without a Cause. His career soared when he starred in 1969's Easy Rider, which he also directed and co-wrote. Hopper re-appeared in the 1980s with quirky roles in Hoosiers (1986) and Blue Velvet (1986). In addition to his talent with film and video, Hopper was a respected photographer, having photos that appeared in various museums and galleries. After battling cancer,
he died in Venice, California, on May 29, 2010.
Actor, director, photographer and art collector Dennis Hopper was born on May 17, 1936, in Dodge City, Kansas. Often taking on darker roles and suspect characters, Dennis Hopper began his film career in the mid-1950s. He started acting as a teenager, eventually signing a contract with Warner Brothers in the early 1950s.
While filming a small role in Rebel Without A Cause (1955), Hopper befriended fellow actor James Dean. The two appeared together again in Dean's last film, Giant (1956), which was made before Dean's fatal car crash. But it wouldn't be until 1969 that Hopper would score his greatest success on screen with Easy Rider. The film follows a road trip made by two counterculture hippies on motorcycles played Hopper and Peter Fonda, capturing a moment in American history.
In addition to his starring role, Hopper directed and co-wrote the film with Fonda and Terry Southern. The film received two Academy Award nominations—one for a then-unknown Jack Nicholson for Best Supporting Actor and one for Hopper, Fonda and Southern for Best Original Screenplay.
Unfortunately, Hopper's next directing project, The Last Movie (1971), was a commercial and critical failure. This sent him into a tailspin, and he sank into a period of intense alcohol and drug abuse. In the 1980s, Hopper went through a personal and professional revival, getting sober and landing more substantial parts. He turned in a memorably disturbing performance in David Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986) as the sinister Frank Booth who was involved in a strange relationship with Dorothy Vallens played by Isabella Rossellini.
Showing great versatility, he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of an alcoholic father to tries to get sober and help coach his son's basketball team in Hoosiers (1986). That same year, Hopper had another memorable supporting role opposite Keanu Reeves in the cult favorite The River's Edge (1986). In that film, he portrayed the paranoid loner Feck, who keeps an inflatable sex doll as his only companion.
Hopper returned to directing with 1988's police versus street gangs drama Colors, starring Sean Penn and Robert Duvall. Since then he has directed a few more films, including The Hot Spot (1990) and Chasers (1994). In the 1990s, however, he was better known for his acting, especially playing the bad guy in such films as Speed (1994).
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