"Like all artists I want to cheat death a little and contribute something to the
next generation." Dennis Hopper.
Multi-talented and unconventional actor/director Dennis Hopper broke the movie
scene with his feature directing and co-writing debut, the Oscar-nominated Easy
Rider (1969), in which he also starred opposite Peter Fonda. The five-decade
actor/director who was once blackballed from Hollywood roles for eight years
received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for acting in Hoosiers
(1986). He had acted in American Friend (1977), Blue Velvet (1986), Speed (1994)
and Out of Season (2004). His directing works include Colors (1988), Catchfire
(1990), The Hot Spot (1990) and Chasers (1994).
Hopper, one of Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time"
(October 1997), will star in the upcoming films: Hoboken Hollow, America, and
Alpha Numeric. One of the top collectors of modern American art and a painter,
Hopper belongs to the Top 100 collectors of modern art, which could collect
millions at auction.
Childhood and Family:
The son of Jay (died in 1982) and Marjorie Hopper (remarried), Dennis Hopper was
born on May 17, 1936 in Dodge City, Kansas. His grandparents raised Dennis on a
farm in Dodge City, Kansas. While studying at Helix High School, La Mesa,
California (class of 1954), Dennis was voted most likely to succeed by his
classmates and began to develop his interest in acting. He later signed up with
Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California and studied with Lee Strasberg for
five years at Actors Studio in New York, New York.
In 1961, Dennis Hopper married Brooke Hayward, daughter of agent-producer Leland
Hayward and actor Margaret Sullavan (author of family memoir Haywire), but they
divorced in 1969. A year later, on October 31, 1970, Hopper tied the knot with
singer and actress Michelle Phillips. Their marriage, during Hopper’s wild and
woolly, drug-fueled period, lasted just eight days as they divorced on November
8 that same year. In 1972, Hopper married therapist and former actress Daria
Halprin, but the marriage also ended in divorce in 1976. In 1987, Hopper met
ballet dancer and choreographer Katherine LaNasa (born on December 1, 1967;
formerly a principal dancer with the Karole Armitage Ballet of New York) and
married her on June 17, 1989. Hopper and LaNasa divorced in April of 1992. That
same year, Hopper began dating Victoria Duffy and they exchanged wedding vows on
April 13, 1996 in Boston, at the Old South Church.
From his marriages, Dennis Hopper has four three daughters: Ruthana Hopper (born
in 1974; mother: Daria Halprin), Marin Hopper (born in 1961; mothe: Brooke
Hayward), Galen Grier Hopper (born on March 26, 2003; mother: Victoria Duffy)
and one son, Henry Lee Hopper (born in September 1990; mother: Katherine LaNasa).
He also has one granddaughter, Violet (born on October 13, 2002; mother Marin
"In the 50s, when me and Natalie Wood and James Dean and Nick Adams and Tony
Perkins suddenly arrived... God, it was a whole group of us that sort of felt
like that earlier group - the John Barrymores, Errol Flynns, Sinatras, Clifts -
were a little farther out than we were... So we tried to emulate that lifestyle.
For instance, once Natalie and I decided we'd have an orgy. And Natalie says
'O.K., but we have to have a champagne bath.' So we filled the bathtub full of
champagne. Natalie takes off her clothes, sits down in the champagne, starts
screaming. We take her to the emergency hospital. That was *our* orgy, you
understand?" Dennis Hopper.
Finishing high school, Dennis Hopper acted with the Pasadena Playhouse,
California. After an uncredited appearance in Nicholas Ray's adaptation of Roy
Chanslor's novel, Johnny Guitar (1954, starring Joan Crawford and Sterling
Hayden), Hopper made his acting debut as a young epileptic on an episode of the
Richard Boone television show, "Boy in the Storm" on "Medic" in January of 1955.
Also in that year, Hopper signed with Warner Bros and reunited with Johnny
Guitar director in his teen-terror drama Rebel Without a Cause (1955, alongside
James Dean and Natalie Wood).
Hopper subsequently won roles in films like Stuart Heisler's crime film-noir
inspired by W.R. Burnett's novel High Sierra, I Died a Thousand Times (1955,
starring Jack Palance), George Stevens' take on Edna Ferber's novel, the
legendary epic Giant (1956, with Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean)
and John Sturges' Western film adapted from George Scullin's article, Gunfight
at the O.K. Corral (1957, with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas). He also played
Napoleon Bonaparte in Irwin Allen's classic fantasy The Story of Mankind (1957,
alongside Ronald Colman) and appeared (as Ed Novak) in two episodes of TV series
"Conflict" ("No Man's Road" and "A Question of Loyalty"; both in 1957), which
were released theatrically abroad.
On the set of the Western drama adapted from Charles O. Locke's novel, From Hell
to Texas (1958) Hopper involved in legendary conflict with director Henry
Hathaway and reportedly did over 100 takes of a simple scene before giving the
requested line reading. The infamous incident Hopper claimed dropped him from
contract at Warner Bros. and banned him from major studio productions for eight
years. He then left Hollywood for New York City to study acting with Lee
Strasberg for five years. He also worked extensively on television and began a
secondary career as a photographer.
Hopper got his first feature-starring role as young sailor Johnny Drake in
writer-director Curtis Harrington's low-budget horror drama Night Tide (1961).
After his unbilled double for Tarzan in Andy Warhol's Tarzan and Jane
Regained... Sort of (1964), Hopper returned to Hollywood. He was seen in such
films as The Sons of Katie Elder (1965), Queen of Blood (1966), The Trip (1967),
Cool Hand Luke (1967), The Glory Stompers (1968), Hang 'Em High (1968) and Panic
in the City (1968). He also hit back the movie scene with his collaboration with
Peter Fonda in Easy Rider (1969). In the action adventure film, Hopper made his
feature directing and co-writing debut, as well as costarred (also with Peter
Fonda) as two long-haired bikers who set off on a cross-country trek to New
Orleans. The film earned Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination (Hopper
shared with Peter Fonda and Terry Southern) and won Hopper Best New Director at
the 1969 Cannes Film Festival.
In 1971, Hopper was credited as co-writer of documentary about himself, L M Kit
Carson and Lawrence Schiller-directed The American Dreamer, and directed,
co-wrote (with talented screenwriter Stewart Stern) and starred as stuntman
Kansas in the little-seen, bizarre drama The Last Movie. Afterward, Hopper
played unmemorable roles in films like The Other Side of the Wind (1972), Crush
Proof (1972), Kid Blue (1973), Tracks (1976), Mad Dog Morgan (1976),
Amerikanische Freund, Der (1977, a.k.a. The American Friend), The Sorceror's
Apprentice (1977), Ordre et la sécurité du monde, L' (1978, a.k.a. Concorde
Affair) and Couleur chair (1979, a.k.a. Flesh Color). He later won converted
notice for small but affected role as the photojournalist in Francis Coppola's
loosely based on Joseph Conrad's novel, "The Heart of Darkness", Apocalypse Now
(1979, with Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen and Robert Duvall).
Entering 1980s, Hopper helmed and starred, as the alcoholic father of Linda
Manz's character, in intense, improvisational film Out of the Blue. He then was
seen in Reborn (1981), King of the Mountain (1981), Neil Young: Human Highway
(1982), Rumble Fish (1983), The Osterman Weekend (1983), White Star (1983), My
Science Project (1985), Riders of the Storm (1986), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
2 (1986) and River's Edge (1986). Moviegoer also remembered him playing the
controversial role of Frank Booth, a nitrous oxide sniffing thug, in
writer-director David Lynch's drama thriller Blue Velvet (1986), opposite Kyle
MacLachlan and Isabella Rossellini. The role earned Hopper a nomination at
Golden Globe Awards and won him National Society of Film Critics and Los Angeles
Film Critics Association Awards.
Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination arrived in 1986, thanks to Hopper’s
portrayal of Shooter, an alcoholic basketball fan, in David Anspaugh's
true-story based basketball drama Hoosiers, alongside Gene Hackman and Barbara
Hershey. The next year, Hopper played roles in Running Out of Luck, Black Widow,
Straight to Hell, O.C. and Stiggs, and The Pick-up Artist. He also returned to
the director’s chair helming the critically acclaimed feature Colors (1988),
starring Robert Duvall and Sean Penn. The detective drama film, written by
Richard Di Lello and Michael Schiffer, is focused on a police unit trying to
control the gangs in East Los Angeles.
1990 saw Dennis Hopper co-directed (with Alan Smithee) and costarred as hit man
Milo, opposite Jodie Foster, in the noir romance Catchfire (a.k.a. Backtrack)
and the thriller drama The Hot Spot, which stars Don Johnson, Virginia Madsen
and Jennifer Connelly. He then acted in Sean Penn's feature directorial debut,
the drama about a family in the Midwest, The Indian Runner (starring David Morse
and Viggo Mortensen), and played the title role of a vile Southern bigot who
murders a young black girl in the Showtime movie helmed by Stephen Gyllenhaal,
Paris Trout (with Barbara Hershey and Ed Harris; based on Peter Dexter's novel),
which handed Hopper a nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or
Special at Emmy Awards. He also had villainous role as mad bomber Howard Payne
in Jan de Bont's hit film Speed (1994, starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra
Bullock), which won Hopper an MTV Movie Awards for Best Villain. Back on the
director’s chair, Hopper helmed the action comedy Chasers (1994), which stars
Tom Berenger, William McNamara and Erika Eleniak.
After performing in the computer game Hell, Hopper played the heavy in Kevin
Reynolds’ Waterworld (starring Kevin Costner) and became the subject of the
documentary Dennis Hopper: L.A. Blues (both in 1995). He starred as a
middle-aged schoolteacher who lives on a farm with his dying mother in Bruno
Barreto's adaptation of Jim Harrison's novel, the romantic drama Carried Away
(1996, alongside Amy Irving), played Mickey Wayne in Abel Ferrara's The Blackout
(1997, starring Matthew Modine) and portrayed Frank Slater in Steve Boyum's
comedy feature Meet The Deedles (1998, with Steve Van Wormer and Paul Walker).
Director Ron Howard cast Hopper to play the father of Matthew McConaughey's
title role in the comedy Edtv (1999) before he appeared in the same year’s films
Straight Shooter, Jesus' Son, The Venice Project, and Bad City Blues.
The new millennium caught Hopper in the television series "24," playing the
recurring role of Victor Drazen. He was cast in Brian Koppelman and David
Levien's crime comedy Knockaround Guys (2001, with John Malkovich, Vin Diesel,
Barry Pepper and Seth Green), costarred in the sci-fi action TV series
"Flatland" (2002) and costarred with Pavan Grover and Dina Meyer in Thomas J.
Wright's modern retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" set in the extreme life of
death row, Unspeakable (2002). Hopper starred as Frank in Steve Balderson's
thriller feature Firecracker (2003) before he portrayed Frank Sinatra in Paul
Goldman's biographical drama comedy The Night We Called It a Day (2003,
alongside Melanie Griffith).
More recently, Hopper gave a broody, menacing performance as the mysterious
character whose winter tenure in the town leads to death and destruction in
writer-director Jevon O'Neill's drama Out of Season (2004, with Gina Gershon and
David Murray) and guest starred on the NBC show "Las Vegas," as head of the
Montecito Hotel and Casino's sister operation in Louisiana. He teamed with Simon
Baker and John Leguizamo in writer-director George A. Romero's Land of the Dead,
with Tricia Helfer and Alonso Oyarzun in Bennett Davlin's Mem-o-re, and opposite
James Marsden and Giovanni Ribisi in Robert Moresco's 10th & Wolf (all in 2005).
Hopper is currently starring in the new TV series "E-Ring," alongside Benjamin
Bratt, Aunjanue Ellis, Kelsey Oldershaw and Kelly Rutherford. He will star in
the upcoming films; writer-director Glen Stephens' true-story based horror
Hoboken Hollow (with Jason Connery), Jerzy Skolimowski's adaptation of Susan
Sontag's novel, America (alongside Isabelle Huppert) and writer-director Fiona
MacKenzie's drama Alpha Numeric (with Val Kilmer, Christopher Lambert and Winona
Santa Monica Film Festival: Lifetime Achievement Award, 2003
San Sebastián International Film Festival: Donostia Lifetime Achievement
Young Hollywood: Role Model Award, 2001
Taos Talking Picture Festival: Maverick Award, 1999
New York International Independent Film & Video Festival: Feature Film
Award - Best Antagonist Actor, The Blackout, 1998
Razzie Awards: Worst Supporting Actor, Waterworld, 1996
MTV Movie Awards: Best Villain, Speed, 1995
National Society of Film Critics: Best Supporting Actor, Blue Velvet,
Los Angeles Film Critics Association: Best Actor, Blue Velvet and
Hoosiers; both films cited, 1986
Venice Film Festival Grand Prize: The Last Movie, 1971
National Society of Film Critics Special: Easy Rider; cited as director,
co-writer and costar, 1969
Cannes Film Festival Best New Director: Easy Rider, 1969