The word from Hollywood is that the great Dennis Hopper may be losing his battle with prostate cancer.

Hopper, 74, is truly one of our finest actors and has been for nigh on 50 years. He’s also a late bloomer.

After working hard for about fifteen years, he finally hit it big in 1969 with “Easy Rider.” The seminal counterculture film was written with Peter Fonda, and Terry Southern (who passed away a few years ago).

Hopper could have parlayed “Easy Rider” into a major career, but instead he dropped out. He didn’t really resurface until “Apocalypse Now” in 1978, when he made a splash. But again, Hopper semi-vanished. It wouldn’t be again until 1986, and David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet,” that he finally hit his stride and had a role with a lasting impression. He was already 50. In that year, 1986, Hopper also made “Hoosiers” and “River’s Edge.” It was his high water mark, and he wouldn’t do so well again until “Speed” in 1994. Still through all of, post-”Apocalypse,” he never stopped working in one way or another.

Hopper, who boasts a huge art collection, was also married five times. His first wife was the beauty Brooke Hayward, daughter of Margaret Sullavan and Leland Hayward. Hopper’s second marriage, to Michelle Phillips, lasted a week in the fall of 1970. Three more marriages followed. He has two Oscar nominations ‘ one for acting (”Hoosiers”) and for writing (”Easy Rider”). Looking back, it’s a scandal that he wasn’t nominated for “Blue Velvet,” too.

Anyway, I love this interview with Hopper from last year in which he talks about the Sixties, art, and women. Here’s to you, Dennis!

Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. He wrote the Intelligencer column for NY Magazine in the mid 90s, reporting on the OJ Simpson trial, as well as for the real Parade magazine (when it was owned by Conde Nast), and has written for the New York Observer, Details, Vogue, Spin, the New York Times, NY Post, Washington Post, and NY Daily News among many publications. He is the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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