Easy, rider: Dennis Hopper — the prolific, iconic American actor whose work in front of and behind cameras around the world broke new boundaries and set new standards for art — died today at his home in Venice from complications related to prostate cancer.
Hopper made his debut in Rebel Without a Cause and continued to act in the kind of films that would further define him as a go-to for characters who embodied the spirit and moxie of the American counterculture’s resistance to the status quo. His roles, face, voice, and gestures were unmistakable, as is his work’s wide-reaching influence on rebels and outcasts of all stripes, regardless of their vocation or artistry.
The Los Angeles Times had an excellent obit already penned; it’s by Dennis McLellan, and it’s here. Hopper is survived by his four children and two granddaughters. He was 74.
UPDATE: In a spirited obituary in The American Reporter, one-time Village Voice-er Joe Shea writes of his encounter with Hopper:
I got to know Dennis through the good graces of Gov. David Cargo of New Mexico, whom I interviewed for the Village Voice in the Santa Fe summer of 1970. It was a grand summer for me, at 22; I had just broken into the Voice with a series of articles that were all about the wilds of northern New Mexico and the hippies flooding into the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains around Taos, where Dennis lived with his brother. There had been some rough incidents, including one in which his brother William was in an armed confrontation with locals who resented the attention his famous brother had brought to their home.
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