Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dennis Hopper

With church bells ringing and motorcycle engines roaring, Dennis Hopper, actor, director and cultural icon was laid to rest in the community and state that he made his second home. Hopper lived in Taos, N.M. for twelve years and still owned a home in that area at the time of his death.  As a young actor Hopper landed roles alongside James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause" and "Giant".  Before he achieved fame and notoriety in Easy Rider, he appeared in a number of movies and television shows, the majority of them westerns, in which he was usually shot dead.  

In 1968 he combined with Peter Fonda and Terry Southern to write, direct and produce the movie that would rocket him, Fonda and Jack Nicholson to fame, the iconic  "Easy Rider".  Flush with success he then nearly killed off his  promising directorial career with that ironically titled stinker "The Last Movie."  Hopper had isolated himself in Rancho de Taos for a year to edit the movie for release, it's overwhelming failure would send him into a downward spiral , that would result in an eight day marriage to singer Michelle Phillips ("The first seven days were pretty good" Hopper would later comment) followed by an arrest in Los Alamos, where Hopper was found raving, naked and doped up while running around town.  In a touch of irony the scenes in "Easy Rider" most associated with the state of New Mexico, those that depict a struggling hippie commune were actually shot near Santa Monica Ca.  The New Buffalo commune in Arroyo Hondo did not allow any shooting to take place there. The commune was then recreated  in California using photographs. From cowboys to madmen, Dennis Hopper played them all, adios amigo.

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