Hopper dies aged 74

Dennis Hopper, the Hollywood actor and director whose memorable career included the 1969 hit 'Easy Rider', has died aged 74.

Dennis Hopper, the Hollywood actor and director whose memorable career included the 1969 hit 'Easy Rider', has died aged 74.

Family friend Alex Hitz said Hopper died at his Los Angeles home, surrounded by family and friends.

The actor had been battling prostate cancer.

Hopper’s rollercoaster career also included 'Rebel Without A Cause', 'Blue Velvet' and 'Apocalypse Now'.

But the improbable success of the 1969 hippie-biker epic 'Easy Rider' remained his biggest triumph.

He not only co-starred but directed and co-wrote the film, which also starred Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson.

Hopper, Fonda and Terry Southern were nominated for Oscars for best screenplay.

Hopper was a two-time Academy Award nominee, and in March 2010 was honoured with a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.

After a promising start that included roles in two James Dean films, Hopper’s acting career languished as he developed a reputation for throwing tantrums and abusing alcohol and drugs. On the set of 'True Grit', Hopper so angered John Wayne that the star reportedly chased Hopper with a loaded gun.

He also married five times and led a dramatic life right to the end. In January 2010, Hopper filed to end his 14-year marriage to Victoria Hopper, who stated in court documents that the actor was seeking to cut her out of her inheritance, a claim Hopper denied.

He collaborated with another struggling actor, Peter Fonda, on a script about two pot-smoking, drug-dealing hippies on a motorcycle trip through the southern US to take in the New Orleans Mardi Gras.

On the way, their characters befriend a drunken young lawyer (Jack Nicholson, whom Hopper had resisted casting, in a breakout role), but arouse the enmity of Southern rednecks and are murdered before they can return home.

“Easy Rider was never a motorcycle movie to me,” Hopper said in 2009. “A lot of it was about politically what was going on in the country.”

The film caught on despite tension between Hopper and Fonda and between Hopper and the original choice for Nicholson’s part, Rip Torn, who quit after a bitter argument with the director.

Hopper was married and divorced several times.

His first wife was Brooke Hayward, the daughter of actress Margaret Sullavan and agent Leland Hayward, and author of the best-selling memoir Haywire. They had a daughter, Marin, before they divorced after eight years.

His second marriage, to singer-actress Michelle Phillips of the Mamas And The Papas, lasted only eight days.

A union with actress Daria Halprin also ended in divorce after they had a daughter, Ruthana. Hopper and his fourth wife, dancer Katherine LaNasa, had a son, Henry, before divorcing.

He married his fifth wife, Victoria Duffy, who was 32 years his junior, in 1996, and they had a daughter, Galen Grier.

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