Birth Date: May 17, 1936 / Age: 81
Birth Place: Dodge City, Kansas, USA
Also Credited as: Alan Smithee
Biography: Dennis Hopper (born May 17, 1936) is an American actor and film-maker.
Born in Dodge City, Kansas, Hopper was voted most likely to succeed by his high school class and it was there he developed an interest in acting. He was especially fond of the plays of William Shakespeare. Hopper made his acting debut on an episode of the Richard Boone television show Medic in 1955 playing a young epileptic. Hopper was then cast in two roles with James Dean (whom he admired immensely) Rebel Without A Cause (1955) and Giant (1956).
Dean's death in a 1955 car accident affected the young Hopper deeply and it was shortly afterwards that he got into a confrontation with veteran director Henry Hathaway on the film From Hell To Texas. Hopper refused directions for 80 takes over several days. This infamous incident resulted in him being blacklisted from films for several years.
Hopper moved to New York and studied at the famous Lee Strasberg acting school. He appeared in over 140 episodes of television shows such as Bonanza, The Twilight Zone, The Defenders, The Big Valley, The Time Tunnel and Combat. Hopper also became an accomplished professional photographer (he has had many exhibitions of his work). He also was very talented as a painter and a poet.
Hopper had a supporting role as "Babalugats" the bet-taker in "Cool Hand Luke" (1967).
Although Hopper was able to resume acting in mainstream films including The Sons Of Katie Elder (1965) and True Grit (1969), in both of these films he had death scenes with John Wayne, it was not until he teamed with Peter Fonda and made Easy Rider that he really shook up the Hollywood establishment. This film became an anthem of sorts to the lost generation of the Vietnam war and to this day is one of the most successful independent films ever made. Hopper won wide acclaim as the director of the film for his improvisational methods and stop action photography.
Hopper wrote and directed another film that was released in 1971 called The Last Movie that was a box office failure and derailed his career for years. Hopper had long been an alcoholic and drug abuser and it was at this point his addiction began to dominate his life. However, Hopper did act in several films during this period such as Mad Dog Morgan (1976), Tracks (1976), The American Friend (1977), Apocalypse Now (1979) and he won acclaim for directing and acting in Out of the Blue (1980).
In the early 1980s, Hopper entered a drug rehabilitation program and cured himself of his addictions. He gave powerful performances in Rumble Fish (1983) and The Osterman Weekend (1983). However, it was not until he portrayed the Amyl Nitrate-huffing, obscenity-screaming Frank Booth in David Lynch's film Blue Velvet (1986) that his career truly revived. After reading the script, Hopper called Lynch and told him "You have to let me play Frank Booth. Because I am Frank Booth!" Hopper won critical acclaim and a slew of awards for this role and the same year won an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for Hoosiers.
In 1988, Hopper directed a critically acclaimed film about Los Angeles gangs called Colors. He has continued to be an important individual in Hollywood both as an actor, photographer and director. He was nominated for an Emmy award for the 1991 HBO films Paris Trout and Doublecrossed (in which he played real life drug smuggler and DEA informant Barry Seal). He also co-starred in the 1994 blockbuster Speed with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. He recently contributed to the film 1 Giant Leap with provocative anecdotes on spirituality, unity and culture.
On the Gorillaz album Demon Days, Hopper does the spoken-word track "Fire Coming Out of the Monkey's Head".
One of the top collectors of modern American art, Hopper's collection could collect millions at auction.
In 2001, Hopper joined the cast of 24 for the last five episodes of Season 1.