R.I.P. Dennis Hopper

One of the best actors in Hollywood passed away as Dennis Hopper died at the age of 74 after a long battle with cancer.

Hopper will be remembered for many roles, but one of our favorites is his portrayal of “Shooter” in the classic hoops film “Hoosiers.”

Along with Gene Hackman, great performances were delivered by Barbara Hershey and Dennis Hopper. Hopper has had an amazing career, but his portrayal of “Shooter” in this film probably ranks with his best performances. Shooter, the father of one of Coach Dale’s players, is the town drunk who has a great basketball mind when he’s actually sober. Coach Dale decides to give Shooter his own second chance by naming him his assistant coach despite the reservations of everyone in the town. Shooter’s story provides many of the most touching moments of the film.

Bob Westal discusses Hopper’s career in an excellent post on Premium Hollywood that includes numerous video clips.

Dennis Hopper died today at age 74 after a lengthy and public illness. He was an icon of mid-century rebellion and an always fresh and fascinating character actor throughout a career that spanned the classic era, the American New Wave of the late sixties and early seventies, and his often astonishing later career work in numerous films and television shows after he was finally able to conquer his longstanding issues with substance abuse during the mid-eighties. He didn’t have a lot of starring roles, but that’s show business. (The still above is from one of the very few, Curtis Harrington’s 1961 “Night Tide.” He’s very good in it.)

He was also a photographer, the director of one of the most influential (i.e., copied and later spoofed) single films ever made, “Easy Rider,” as well as a major figure on the Los Angeles art landscape. It’s not often mentioned, but he was also probably the most proudly counter-cultural celebrity to ever openly associate himself with the Republican party, though, as recounted by Edward Copeland in his extremely detailed look at Hopper’s career, he was a true maverick to the end and voted for Obama in 2008.

He will be missed.

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