Dennis Hopper Biography

Dennis Hopper was an American actor, director photographer and artist. Check out this biography to know about his childhood, family life, achievements and other facts about his life.

Dennis Hopper
Quick Facts

Birthday: May 17, 1936

Nationality: American

Famous: Actors Directors

Died At Age: 74

Sun Sign: Taurus

Born in: Venice, Los Angeles, California, United States

Famous as: Actor

Height: 5'9" (175 cm), 5'9" Males


Spouse/Ex-: Brooke Hayward (m. 1961; div. 1969) Michelle Phillips

children: Henry Hopper

Died on: May 29, 2010

U.S. State: California, Kansas

City: Los Angeles

More Facts

education: Helix High School

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Dennis Hopper was an American actor, director photographer and artist. Born in Kansas, he studied acting during childhood and went on to start his career with minor roles in films. His first major break in his career was ‘Easy Rider’ in which he was also the director and co-writer. His performances have earned him several awards at prominent platforms like the Cannes Film Festival and National Society of Film Critics Awards. Apart from feature films, he was also active in television, documentaries and voice acting. Alongside acting, Dennis Hopper was also passionate about photography, poems and painting, which he began working on in the 1960s. His works have been displayed in several prestigious galleries and museum around the world including the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne. At the age of 74, he lost his battle to cancer and died at his home in California. His biography was released posthumously by HarperCollins titled ‘Hopper: A Journey into the American Dream’.

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Dennis Hopper
Childhood & Early Life
  • Dennis Hopper was born on 17 May 1936 in Dodge City, Kansas, to James Milliard Hopper and Majorjie Mae. He had two brothers, Marvin and David.
  • Post World War II, he shifted to Kansas City along with his family. While here, he attended Saturday art classes at the Nelson Art Gallery. At the gallery, he was also exposed to drama classes. At the age of 13, Hooper and his family shifted to San Diego where his mother took up work as a lifeguard instructor.
  • He went on to study acting at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego and at the Actors Studio, New York. During this time he made friends with actor Vincent Prince. He was supposedly fond of William Shakespeare’s plays.
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  • Dennis Hopper began his career in acting during the early 1950s. His first role is said to be an unaccredited role in the feature film ‘Johnny Guitar’ (1954). He made his debut in Hollywood with minor roles like ‘Rebel without a Cause’ (1955) and ‘Giant’ (1956).
  • In 1959, he moved to New York to study Method acting under Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. Two years later, in 1961, he played the lead role in the supernatural thriller ‘Night tide’.
  • Due to his rude and arrogant behavior, he could not find work in Hollywood for seven years. It was then that he turned to his passion, photography. He was known for his portraits and in the 1960s he worked for Vogue and other magazines. He also began work as a poet and painter.
  • In 1965, he restarted his career with a role in John Wayne’s ‘The Sons of Katie Elder’. In 1967, he appeared in a supporting role in the film’ Cool Hand Luke’.
  • His greatest success on screen was the release of the road movie ‘Easy Rider’ (1969). Dennis Hopper was as co-writer, actor, director and editor of the film. The same year he was also part of the feature film ‘True Grit’.
  • In 1971, he was part of the drama film ‘The Last Movie’. Throughout the 1970s, he was part of numerous low budget and European movies like ‘Mad Dog Morgan’ (1976), ‘Tracks’ (1976), and ‘The American Friend’ (1977).
  • He earned much appreciation for his direction and acting skills in the film ‘Out of the Blue’ (1980). During the time, he appeared in films like ‘Rumble Fish’ (1983) and ‘The Osterman Weekend’ (1983).
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  • In 1986, his role as villain in ‘Blue Velvet’ earned much critical acclaim. The same year, he was part of the sports film ‘Hoosiers’, a performance for which he earned an Academy Award nomination.
  • In 1988, he directed crime film ‘Colors’, depicting gang life and gang violence.
  • A few years later, he appeared in award winning HBO films ‘Paris Trout’ and ‘Doublecrossed’. Other directorial ventures include ‘The Hot Spot’ (1990) and ‘Chasers’ (1994). He played the villain role in ‘Speed’ (1994) against Keanu Reeves.
  • In the early 1990s, he in association with sports brand Nike appeared in a series of television commercials.
  • In the 2000s, he began taking up acting roles in television and feature films. He made several cameos as in ‘24’ (2002) as well as regular appearances as in ‘E-Ring’ (2005). Television shows that he has made appearances include: ‘Gunsmoke’, ‘Bonanza’, ‘Petticoat Junction’, ‘The Twilight Zone’, ‘The Defenders’, ‘The Investigators’, ‘The Legend of Jesse James’, ‘Entourage’, ‘The Big Valley’, ‘The Time Tunnel’ and ‘The Rifleman’.
  • In 2008, he was part of the drama series ‘Crash’. Movies that he was a part include: ‘The Keeper’ (2004) and ‘10th& Wolf’ (2006).
  • In 2011, art book publisher Taschen published his photography works by the title ‘Dennis Hopper: Photographs 1961–1967’. In 2013, publisher HarperCollins released a biography on him by writer Tom Folsom titled ‘Hopper: A Journey into the American Dream’.
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  • While he was alive, his photography and art works were displayed in exhibitions all over the globe at prestigious galleries as the MAK Vienna ,Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art, Vienna, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne.
Major Works
  • Dennis Hopper’s best known works as an actor include feature films like ’Hoosiers’, ‘Blue Velvet’ and ‘Easy Rider’ which he directed and co-wrote as well. He was also a talented photographer with his works displayed in several museums and galleries.
Awards & Achievements
  • In 1969, Dennis Hopper won the award for ‘Best First Work’ at the Cannes Film Festival for ‘Easy Rider’. The same year he won the special award at the ‘National Society of Film Critics Awards’ for ‘Easy Rider’.
  • In 1971, he won the CIDALC Award at the Venice Film Festival for ‘The Last Movie’.
  • In 1986, his performance in the feature film ‘Blue Velvet’ earned him Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor, Independent Spirit Awards for Best Male Lead, Montreal World Film Festival Award for Best Actor and National Society of Film Critics Awards for Best Supporting Actor.
  • In 1994, he won the MTV Movie Awards for Best Villain for his role in ‘Speed’.
  • In 1995, he was the recipient of the Razzie Award for ‘Worst Supporting Actor’ for the film ‘Waterworld’.
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Personal Life & Legacy
  • Dennis Hopper was known to have troubled relationships with women. In 1961, he married actress Brooke Hayward. The couple had a daughter Marin Hopper (born in 1962). However, they separated in 1969.
  • In October 1970, he married singer and songwriter, Michelle Phillips. The marriage lasted for a mere eight days and the couple split in November 1970.
  • He married psychologist and actress, Daria Halprin, in 1972. They had a daughter named Ruthanna Hopper, born in 1974. The couple divorced in 1976.
  • In 1989, he married actress and ballet dancer, Katherine LaNasa, and they had a son named Henry Lee Hopper, born in 1990. The couple divorced in 1992.
  • In 1996, he married Victoria Duff and had a daughter named Galen Grier Hopper (born in 2003). They parted ways in 2010.
  • In September 2009, he was admitted at a Manhattan hospital and reportedly treated for dehydration. The following month his manager announced that Dennis Hopper had been diagnosed with advanced stage of prostate cancer and in January the report stated that the cancer had metasized to the bones.
  • He was terminally ill during his last months and it was during the time that he was fighting the divorce case against his fifth wife Victoria Duff. His ill health did not allow him to undergo chemotherapy.
  • He died at his home in Los Angeleson 29 May 2010, at the age of 74. He was laid to rest at the Jesus Nazareno Cemetery, Ranchos de Taos.
Net Worth
  • It is estimated that he had a net worth of USD 40 million. His career was not limited to acting; he also took passion in photography and pursued the same.
  • Dennis Hopper was known to be among the most notorious drug addicts of Hollywood during the 1970s and 1980s.
  • The feature film ’Alpha and Omega’, which was one among his final works, was dedicated to him .The 2011 film ‘Restless’ starring by son, Henry Hopper, was also dedicated to him.

1. Apocalypse Now (1979)

  (Drama, War)

2. Cool Hand Luke (1967)

  (Crime, Drama)

3. Rebel Without a Cause (1955)


4. Giant (1956)

  (Western, Drama)

5. True Romance (1993)

  (Thriller, Romance, Drama, Crime)

6. Easy Rider (1969)

  (Adventure, Drama)

7. True Grit (1969)

  (Western, Drama, Adventure)

8. The American Friend (1977)

  (Mystery, Crime, Drama, Thriller)


MTV Movie & TV Awards
1995 Best Villain Speed (1994)

See the events in life of Dennis Hopper in Chronological Order

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Article Title
- Dennis Hopper Biography
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Last Updated
- March 10, 2017

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