Dennis Hopper's star shines in Hollywood
The 73-year-old actor, who disclosed his cancer last October, appeared to be in good spirits as he arrived for the ceremony on Hollywood Boulevard in front of the Egyptian Theater. He appeared having lost a significant amount of weight; his face, shaded partly by a newsboy cap, appeared gaunt and a heavy jacket hung off his body.
Joseph Mannis, Hopper’s lawyer, has said that the actor is too weak to participate in a deposition for a divorce case with his wife. Friday’s appearance, however, was approved by Hopper’s doctor, who described the ceremony in court documents as a positive experience for the actor. According to the documents, the physician also said Hopper weighs about 100 pounds.
The atmosphere at the ceremony was cheerful. Hundreds of fans crowded behind metal barricades to snap pictures and cheer for the actor as Leron Gubler, the president and chief executive of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, listed Hopper’s numerous credits, which include "Rebel Without a Cause," "Easy Rider," (which he co-wrote, directed and starred in) "Blue Velvet" and "Speed."
Also in attendance were a number of Hopper’s family members, including his young daughter Galen, who was celebrating her seventh birthday. Throughout the proceedings she bounced to her feet to cheer for her father, later posing with her arms around his neck.
Before taking the stage, Hopper listened to tributes from actor Viggo Mortensen and film producer Mark Canton. Also in attendance were “Easy Rider” co-star Jack Nicholson, "Blue Velvet" director David Lynch and philanthropist Eli Broad.
“In the short attention span of most moviegoers and critics, he is someone who has seemed to regularly rise out of the ashes of self-inflicted chaos, surprising us with his originality and wit as an artist and defying the odds by somehow staying alive physically and professionally,” said Mortensen, who greeted Hopper with a large kiss on the cheek. The two costarred in 1991’s “The Indian Runner” and 1993’s “Boiling Point.”
Hopper was helped up to the stage by aides. His speech was slightly labored but his words were clear and heartfelt. After introducing his family, the actor shared a poignant moment to explain why he had bandages on his arm and above his eye.
“I want to thank the paparazzi,” he began, “because yesterday I got up — I’ve been working for this day, to look as good as possible to look as strong as possible.”
He explained that when leaving his house on Thursday, he heard someone yell his name. He thought it was a friend but it was actually the paparazzi. When he turned around, he lost his balance, falling directly on his face due to lack of "muscles," he said.
“So I got pretty screwed up,” he said. “Anyway, I know you have a tough job, but sometimes maybe you ought to be a little more sensitive.”
Hopper has become a tabloid staple since January, when he filed for divorce after 14 years of marriage to his wife, Victoria. A much publicized battle has ensued between the couple, with Victoria claiming in court filings that Hopper is trying to rob her of her inheritance. Hopper has denied the claim.
After the ceremony, Hopper’s closest friends milled about before heading to a private luncheon. Broad, who hugged Hopper for a few moments, reinforced his friend’s message that the paparazzi should respect people’s privacy.
“I think Dennis is a great person, a great asset to the film industry, to the art world and to Los Angeles,” he said. “So you can’t pay attention to what some of these tabloid stories are about. He’s a great friend.”
The two became close through the art world, and Broad revealed that the Museum of Contemporary Art in Downtown Los Angeles will have its own Hopper exhibit this summer.
Actor Clifton Collins Jr., whose grandfather Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez was a studio contract player with Hopper, said he was glad Hopper addressed the tabloid situation.
“The tabloids can be pretty mean and insensitive,” he said. “It’s like, come on. You love his work, why do you want to kick a man when he’s down? Why not give him some love and some hope and support him and appreciate what he’s given us?”
— Amy Kaufman
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Photos: (From top) Dennis Hopper receives his star on the Walk of Fame, poses with his daughter Galen and former costar Jack Nicholson. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times.