It was on this day, May 17, 1936, American actor, filmmaker and artist, Dennis Lee Hopper was born. As a young man, Hopper became interested in acting and eventually became a student of the Actors Studio. Making his first television appearance in 1954, he appeared in two films featuring James Dean, Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and Giant (1956) During the next 10 years, Hopper appeared frequently on television in guest roles, and by the end of the 1960s had played supporting roles in several films.
In 1969 he directed and starred in Easy Rider, winning an award at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay as co-writer. Journalist Ann Hornaday wrote: “With its portrait of counterculture heroes raising their middle fingers to the uptight middle-class hypocrisies, Easy Rider became the cinematic symbol of the 1960s, a celluloid anthem to freedom, macho bravado and anti-establishment rebellion.” Film critic Matthew Hays notes that “no other persona better signifies the lost idealism of the 1960s than that of Dennis Hopper.”
He was unable to build on his success for several years, until a featured role, that of the American Photojournalist, in Apocalypse Now (1979) he played brought him attention. He subsequently appeared in Rumble Fish (1983) and The Osterman Weekend (1983), and received critical recognition for his work in Blue Velvet and Hoosiers, with the latter film garnering him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He directed Colors (1988), played the lead character named after the movie title in Paris Trout, and played the villain in Speed (1994). He played another villain, King Koopa, in Super Mario Bros. (1993). Hopper also played heroes, such as John Canyon in Space Truckers. Hopper’s later work included a leading role in the television series Crash. Hopper’s last performance was filmed just before his death: The Last Film Festival, originally slated for a 2011 release. Hopper was also a prolific and acclaimed photographer, a profession he began in the 1960s.
Hopper died at his home in the coastal Los Angeles district of Venice on the morning of May 29, 2010 at the age of 74.
Are you a Michigan resident engaged in some aspect of Michigan’s film industry, whether a filmmaker, an actor/actress, or musician with credits in creating musical scores for Michigan movies, other? If so, write me. I would like to include your name, birthdate and credits on this blog. I can then link it to your facebook profile, IMDB page, or personal website.