The troubled genius that was Dennis Hopper

Mar 29, 2013

US actor and director Dennis Hopper pose

US actor and director Dennis Hopper poses in front of one of his art-works in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, 15 February 2001. The exhibition “Dennis Hopper (a keen eye) artist, photographer, filmmaker” will officially open here to public 17 February 2001. Credit: COR MULDER/AFP/Getty Images

Who was Dennis Hopper? The better question may be what wasn’t he? This actor, filmmaker, art collector and photographer lives on as an off-beat icon in entertainment history. The public remembers his life as much as his roles in “Easy Rider,” “Apocalypse Now, and “Blue Velvet.” Although he had no formal art education, he was also known for his portraits of celebrities like Andy Warhol and Jane Fonda. Hopper filled his house with paintings by artists such as Julian Schnabel, Roy Lichtenstein, and Warhol.  In 2010 he filed for divorce with his fifth wife while being terminally ill with cancer that led to his passing that  year. 

Author Tom Folsom couldn’t resist the roller coaster of Hopper’s life. In his biography, “Hopper: A Journey in the American Dream,” Folsom wanted to know Hopper’s off-screen life. Folsom told the Wall Street Journal that he saw Hopper as a “modern Don Quixote who spent his life in search of his American dream.”

What private details did Hopper disclose to Folsom? Was Hopper an artistic savant or a manic? Why did Hopper have such a draw on the public? Will Hopper’s tale become legendary or forgotten with upcoming generations?

Tom Folsom, Author “Hopper: A Journey into the American Dream,” (ItBooks, March 2013); Folsom is a writer, director, and producer of documentaries; his previous book, “The Mad Ones: Crazy Joe Gallo and the Revolution at the Edge of the Underworld” was a New York Times bestseller

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