Paperback of the week

Sat, Nov 24, 2012, 00:00

Dennis Hopper: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel Peter L Winkler The Robson Press, £12.99

Winkler was nearing the end of his engrossing, long-in-the-works biography when Dennis Hopper died of liver failure, in May 2010 – one of the few things in his life, the author observes, that Hopper did quietly. The Hollywood iconoclast and gun-slinging, wife-terrifying bad boy was 74, a mighty age given the copious amounts of alcohol gargled and drugs smoked, injected, ingested and otherwise consumed during a career that began in 1955 opposite James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. Hopper’s was an epic life of incredible highs (literally) and numbing career and personal lows. The Hollywood fringe player became a big wheel indeed with the smash success of the influential countercultural classic Easy Rider (1969), only to see it all go Pete Tong two years later when his druggy follow-up, The Last Movie, was laughed off screens. Rebuilding his career in Europe, Hopper came back strong in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986), then went on to spend a quarter-century acting with professionalism, if not much elan, in everything from art house to outhouse. Winkler’s book is meticulously researched, though the IMDB- copied filmography could use some work and there’s probably more than you’ll ever want to know about Hopper’s second career as an art collector. KEVIN SWEENEY

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