Dennis Hopper, one of the biggest cult stars of all time, has died of cancer it has been announced. He began his career as an actor in the fifties, a proponent of "The Method" which was popular at the time, and a good friend of James Dean, who he appeared with in Giant and Rebel without a Cause. He gradually moved to larger roles - including Gunfight at the OK Corral, Night Tide, Queen of Blood, The Trip and Hang 'Em High - until the late sixties and his directorial debut Easy Rider. The film was a sensation, shaking up Hollywood and becoming an instant classic, but Hopper's increasing dependence on drugs meant he had trouble following up that success as his next work, The Last Movie, was a notorious flop.
He spent the rest of the seventies in more obscure fare like Mad Dog Morgan, Tracks and The American Friend until his appearance in Apoclaypse Now heralded a gradual return to the limelight. Soon he had directed again (with Out of the Blue), and the next decade saw him enjoy acclaim in Rumble Fish, O.C. and Stiggs, My Science Project, River's Edge, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2, the classic Blue Velvet and Hoosiers. Into the nineties he directed more with Colors, Catchfire, The Hot Spot and Chasers among his credits, and he even started to appear in blockbusters like True Romance, Speed and Waterworld. He continued working right up to the end of his life, with such efforts as Land of the Dead and thriller series 24 on his resume, and he remained a knowledgeable patron of the arts.