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Dennis Hopper

Actor / Filmmaker

Born: 17 May 1936
Died: 29 May 2010 (prostate cancer)
Birthplace: Dodge City, Kansas
Best known as:

The good guy in Easy Rider and the bad guy in Speed

The image of actor Dennis Hopper as a wild and intense bad boy has softened in recent years, but he's still famous for his many roles in independent movies and for his work in a handful of cinema classics. Dennis Hopper got started in the movies in the early 1950s, appearing in Nicholas Ray's Johnny Guitar (1954), Rebel Without A Cause (1955) and Giant (1956). In the '60s his reputation as a "difficult" actor who favored improvisation kept him from getting many mainstream roles, and he appeared in several low-budget movies, including the "hippie" cult favorites The Trip (1967) and Head (1968). He directed and starred in 1969's Easy Rider with Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson, a box office success that steered Hollywood toward counterculture marketing. During the 1970s Hopper was mostly known for being out of control and out of work, excepting a memorable role as a whacked-out journalist in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979, starring Martin Sheen). His career was revived in the late 1980s by crazed performances in David Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986) and the teen-angst drama River's Edge (1986), and by a surprisingly understated presence in Hoosiers (1986, starring Gene Hackman). He followed with a spurt of good parts in smaller films, including TV's Paris Trout (1991) and the feature films Nails (1992) and Boiling Point (1993, with Wesley Snipes). After that his most memorable role was as the wily, techno-savvy villain in Speed (1994, starring Keanu Reeves), but also popped up in independent films and spots on TV, including roles as a ruthless villain in the first season of 24 (starring Kiefer Sutherland) and as a member of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff in the 2005 series E-Ring (co-starring Benjamin Bratt). He died of prostate cancer in 2010, two months after getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Extra credit:

Dennis Hopper was also an art collector, painter and photographer.

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More on Dennis Hopper from Infoplease:

  • Dennis Hopper - Biography of Dennis Hopper, The good guy in Easy Rider and the bad guy in Speed
  • Dennis Hopper - Dennis Hopper actor, director, producer Born: 5/17/1936 Birthplace: Dodge City, Kansas Film actor, ...
  • Easy Rider (1969) - Easy Rider (1969) Director: Dennis Hopper Cast: Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson and ...
  • Meet the Deedles - Meet the Deedles Director: Steve Boyum Writers: James Herzfelt and Dale Pollock Director of ...
  • Easy Rider (1969) - Starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Antonio Mendoza, Phil Spector, Mac Mashourian
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