Actor Dennis Hopper Dies at 74

Oscar-nominated actor died after battle with cancer

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    The erratic and irascible Hollywood actor Dennis Hopper, 74, died on Saturday from complications relating to prostate cancer, Reuters reported. Hopper died at his Venice, California home surrounded by friends and family.

    Famous for starring and directing in the Sixties cult classic "Easy Rider," the hard-living icon was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year.  Hopper had been receiving special treatment for his condition at the University of Southern California.

    Over the course of his 50 year career, Hopper acted in movies that ran the gamut of American filmmaking.  He played alongside his mentor James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause" and "Giant." He received an Academy Award nomination for his role as a former alcoholic-turned basketball coach in the iconic sports film "Hoosiers." Hooper also played a maniac, over and over, in films ranging from "Apocalypse Now" to David Lynch's "Blue Velvet" to the 90's blockbuster "Speed."

    "Easy Rider", a drug-soaked journey through the American South, was widely considered to usher in a new era of movie-making. "We'd gone though the whole Sixties and nobody had made a film about anybody smoking grass without going out and killing a bunch of nurses," he told Entertainment Weekly in a 2005 interview. "I wanted 'Easy Rider' to be a time capsule for people about that period."

    The actor battled alcohol and cocaine addiction throughout his career. In the years following "Rebel Without a Cause," his on-set tantrums cultivated a reputation for being hard to work with. Costar John Wayne became so incensed with Hopper during the filming of "True Grit" that he chased him with a loaded gun. He spent time in and out of detox programs and served a short stint in the psychiatric ward of a Los Angeles hospital.

    Hopper acted in over 150 films, a career that recently earned him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this March. Hopper continued to work during his illness on his cable TV drama "Crash" and on a book of his own photography.

    The end of the star's life had been occupied by a bitter divorce case with his wife of 14 years Victory Duffy Hopper. Over the course of his life, Hopper married 5 times, including an 8-day fling with the Mamas and Papas singer Michelle Phillips. He is survived by four children.