(American, born May 17, 1936–died May 29, 2010) was an actor, artist, and filmmaker known for his realistic portrayals of drug addicts and eccentric characters. He showed great interest in acting and other art forms from an early age, and, as a young man, he studied at the Actors’ Studio in New York and the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. Hopper’s first film role was a small part in Rebel Without a Cause
, which starred James Dean. He had several other movie parts as a young man, but, in 1955, had an argument with director Henry Hathaway while filming From Hell to Texas
. Hathaway had him blacklisted, and Hopper was unable to get another film role for seven years.
During this period, the artist moved to New York, and had a successful stage and television career before returning to film in 1961. Hopper studied method acting with Lee Strasberg during his time in New York, and became known as an intense character actor. However, during the 1960s, he also developed a significant problem with drugs and alcohol, which had a negative impact on his work. Although he had the occasional major or even starring role, such as his iconic performances in Easy Rider
(1968) and Apocalypse Now
(1979), he was considered too unreliable for most major roles. His skill enabled him to make a living starring in smaller films, or taking supporting roles in major ones. In 1983, he entered a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program and remained sober for the rest of his life. During the latter part of his career, he became known as a prolific actor who bragged that he never refused a role. His portrayal of drug addicts and deranged characters was particularly noteworthy, such as his role as Frank Booth in David Lynch
’s Blue Velvet
Hopper was also a painter, poet, and photographer. Unfortunately, much of his early work was destroyed when a wildfire burned his home in Bel Air. He was best known for his photographs, particularly his intimate portraits of many of his famous friends. One of his most popular works was a portrait of Ike and Tina Turner, which was used as the cover art for their 1966 single River Deep-Mountain High
. Hopper’s work was collected in the book Dennis Hopper: Photographs 1961–1967
(2011). His photography is still being shown, including at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, CA; Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, Germany; and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden. Hopper died on May 29, 2010.