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Looking Back At The Career of Dennis Hopper

VO: Rebecca Brayton
He's a multi-talented and unconventional method actor who led an amazing cinematic career for more then five decades. In this video, takes a look back at the career of Dennis Hopper. Once a mere television actor who found himself in various bit parts, the performer quickly made his film debut as a thug hassling James Dean's character in 'Rebel Without A Cause'. Ironically, he then found himself in villainous or controversial roles, as well as that of the pot smoking hippie, as popularized by his own film project 'Easy Rider.' Hopper ended his fascinating career by being honored with a well-earned star on the Hollywood Walk of fame.

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Looking Back At The Career of Dennis Hopper

He made a name for himself as an actor and director. Welcome to, and today we’ll be remembering the late Dennis Hopper.

Born May 17, 1936 in Dodge City, he had a keen interest in acting early on and enrolled at the Actors Studio. Little did he know that a onetime teen television performance would lead to dozens of TV roles throughout the 50s would spawn a career spanning more then five decades.

His first film role came in 1955's "Rebel Without A Cause", Opposite James Dean. Interestingly, they became good friends as a result of Hopper taking on the part of a goon that hassled Dean’s character.

And he continued to find regular work as a villain throughout the 60s, such as in the western “Hang ‘Em High” as the crazed prisoner known as ‘The Prophet’.

In 1969, Hopper entered directing when he helmed the low-budget film “Easy Rider” starring a young Jack Nicolson and Peter Fonda. The film was a phenomenal success that appealed to the youth culture of the day and began a wave of films about rebellious hippies, bikers and pot smokers.

His next huge success came in 1979 when he appeared alongside Marlon Brando as an American photojournalist in Francis Ford Coppola’s war epic “Apocalypse Now”.

As a result, he was chosen to star In dozens of films throughout the decade, such as in “Rumble Fish”, My Science Project” and in the role of a drug dealer in “River’s Edge”.

Hopper then took on the memorable role of Frank Booth in the odd and highly erotic film “Blue Velvet”, before directing the controversial gang film “Colors”.

Interestingly, he also appeared as the villainous King Koopa in the “Super Mario Bros Movie”, before crossing paths with Christopher Walken in 1993’s “True Romance”.

Over the next two years he received major attention by appearing in big box-office draws as both a bomb maker in “Speed” and the leader of the smoker gang in the 1995 post-apocalyptic film “Waterworld”.

Following this, Hopper kept busy by starring in various commercials and films right up to his final performance as a 2005’s George Romero zombie thriller “Land Of The Dead” as the corrupt leader of a surviving city.

A little known fact about Hopper is that he was a skilled photographer and painter, and had his work shown in various galleries, while maintaining an extensive art collection.

Fittingly, he ended his career by being honored with a star on the Hollywood walk of fame for his lifetime of riveting performances and will be remembered as a multi-talented performer who helped make Hollywood what it is today.

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