Dennis Hopper is perhaps most identified with Easy Rider and excessive use of drugs and alcohol, but before he was a wunderkind and cult figure, he was a young actor trying to get ahead, showing up in Rebel Without a Cause, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and Giant before he ran afoul of director Henry Hathaway and his career stalled. Eventually he caught a break from John Wayne and appeared in The Sons of Katie Elder, and it was in smaller villain and troubled youth parts he stayed in until he co-starred and directed Easy Rider. From then on Hopper’s star would rise and fall with his film choices and his substance abuse issues, until his comeback in Blue Velvet. Eventually Hopper appeared in over 200 films and TV shows (seven of which we’ve reviewed or chosen as Movie of the Day).
In late 2009 Dennis Hooper was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. Hopper died on May 29, 2010 from the disease. He was an influential actor and director, and, although his films were a mixed bag, Hopper was entertaining whether he was in great films like Apocalypse Now, popular junk like Speed, artier fare like Lynch’s Blue Velvet, or genre fare like My Science Project (often spoofing his own 60s image).
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