Counterculture Icon Dennis Hopper Dies At 74
Dennis Hopper, who appeared in more than 200 movies and television dramas during his career but is remembered best for his role in the '60s' counterculture film Easy Rider , died in the Venice area of Los Angeles Saturday at the age of 74 from prostate cancer. A contemporary of James Dean (the two studied acting at New York's famed Actors Studio), Hopper appeared with Dean in 1995's Rebel Without a Cause and, the following year, in Giant . But 13 years of routine movie and TV roles ensued before he became an overnight film sensation as the director, co-writer (with Peter Fonda and Terry Southern), and co-star (with Fonda and Jack Nicholson) of 1969's Easy Rider. The success of the movie, made for less than $1 million, established Hopper as a Hollywood wunderkind, and Hollywood turned to him to show it the way. They eagerly bestowed another $1 million on him to devise a follow-up counterculture paean. But Hopper, reportedly high on assorted designer drugs that he bought with his newfound wealth, contrived a film that only an acid head could appreciate. It was titled The Last Movie , and for a time it seemed that it might also be Hopper's last movie. The film opened in a single theater in New York in 1971 and quickly closed. Aside from a handful of festivals it has never been seen in a theater since. The wonder is that Hopper's career survived that debacle at all. An even greater wonder is that it survived his numerous bouts with drugs and alcohol over the years. For he continued to appear in films, albeit almost always as a crazed villain, a druggy, or an alcoholic, virtually until the end. He even received an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor in 1986 for his performance as an alcoholic basketball coach in Hoosiers . In its obituary today, Britain's Guardian newspaper recalled that Hopper once remarked "There are moments that I've had some real brilliance, you know. ... And sometimes, in a career, moments are enough."