Dennis Hopper was an actor, director, artist, and photographer, and was active in the film industry until his death in 2010.
He is perhaps best remembered for the iconic 1969 movie Easy Rider which he co-wrote with Peter Fonda and Terry Southern and also directed. Both Hopper and Fonda acted in the film which featured a very young Jack Nicholson in a supporting role.
The success of Easy Rider helped spark the New Hollywood phase of filmmaking and captured the national imagination at the time. The film touched on the hippie movement, drug use, and communal lifestyle and real drugs were used in scenes showing the use of marijuana and other substances.
On Saturday, movie buffs and motorcyclists converged on the community of Ranchos de Taos in northern New Mexico — where much of the film was shot — to launch “Dennis Hopper Day.”
Several dozen motorcyclists staged a rally and rode through some of the places made famous in the film. The town of Taos is now known for its diverse Hispanic and Native American culture, as well as for skiing and local art. Saturday would have been Dennis Hopper’s 78th birthday; he lived in Taos for years and is buried there.
Rick Bellis, the town manager, said the purpose of the day was to acknowledge Hopper’s contributions as a resident, a filmmaker, a supporter of the arts, and for just being a “colorful member” of the community. He added, “His image really represents the spirit of Taos. He was independent, slightly eccentric but incredibly talented. He sort of became a symbol for a whole new generation.”
The appeal of the film Easy Rider was its message of rebellion, motorcycles, and life on the open road. Town officials hope that the film, and the legend of Dennis Hopper, will continue to draw people to Taos. They plan to add more music and film venues in the coming years.
Bellis had further praise for Hopper, saying:
“He walked across the multicultural borders here. I think that really started with him and the movie and has continued. In the last few years, we have really become that kind of community that he saw, that there was no difference between our ethnicities and who, when and where we came from.
We all came here for the same reason, that awe of nature and that spirit of the last of the wild West, that independence.”
Could there be a greater tribute to the spirit of Dennis Hopper?