OBITUARY: Dennis Hopper 1936-2010

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Dennis Hopper, 74, has died of prostate cancer.

While generally thought of as a straight character actor, he had a surprisingly large number of genre credits, including 1960s TV appearances on The Twilight Zone and The Time Tunnel. In SF films, he's probably best known for his very good performance in the very, very very bad "Waterworld." He was also in "Super Mario Brothers," "Firestarter 2," and "My Science Project."

I'm not gonna' lie to you: there's a lot of low cards in that hand. My personal favorite of Hopper's SF romps was the wildly uneven "Space Truckers," though he's really good in it, and it's such a weirdly ill-conceived movie that it's impossible for me not to like it. I reviewed it in depth here

Hopper is, of course, best known from his role in Apocalypse Now, which is also the first time I ever saw him, but he was also a very accomplished director, and a somewhat less acomplished writer. (Back in the '80s, he and Peter Fonda were pitching an "Easy Rider" sequel that started out with their characters being resurrected by aliens)

On a personal note, I've always liked him. He had little or no ability to distinguish between a good movie and a bad one, but he always took it seriously, even when the material totally didn't deserve it (Again: Waterworld). I'm not sure why, but I always felt Hopper had pretty much the exact career trajectory James Dean would have had, had he not did young. Despite his drug-and-booze crazed period, it's worth noting that he became increasingly politically conservative as he got older, particulary with regards to the Military and our dual wars in the middle east.

He leaves behind four children and five ex-wives, including one he was married to for just eight days. (Michelle Phillips. Drugs.) I don't know anything about his religious beliefs, if any, but he had a long, grueling illness, and I hope he found some peace in the end.

Our prayers go out for his soul and his family.