by Boots Hart, CAP

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dennis Hopper: 1936 – 2010

Most people know Dennis Hopper for movies like 'Easy Rider' and 'Blue Velvet' - among many, many others. I’ve heard about his interest in art, and the depth of feeling he had for his community…not just the professional one, but the lives of people rich and poor in and around Venice, California where he lived – and everywhere else.

Dennis Hopper died as his progressed Moon reached the Nadir of his chart. The Nadir (or IC) is the bottom-most point in the chart. Astrology thinks of it in many ways – it’s everything which forms and challenges the ‘foundation’ of our life. It’s our family and our childhood, our nation and our heritage. It’s that thing we rise from and that to which we ultimately return as the IC and 4th house are often referred to as ‘the house of endings’ and death. It is the firmament on which we stand, and the earth to which we return.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

The Moon is an image of personal clockwork. As the Sun is the image of life as a whole and the whole of life we are part of, so the Moon represents – in some sense – or individuality. Certainly our individual feelings about our incarnation. It is neither unusual nor unfitting for this symbolism to mark the passing of a person – especially someone as human as Dennis Hopper.

My first memories of Dennis are at the home of a lady named April. She was good friends with the woman my dad was dating at the time – a woman he would eventually go on to marry. 

I liked April, though in general that was a troubled, tumultuous time in my life. So when I snuck into the kitchen and there was this friendly looking man sitting on a straight-backed chair, as shy and mistrusting as I was of most people, I walked over and put my hand in his. I looked up and as his bright eyes met mine his gaze softened. His expression gentled. He seemed to know how lost I certainly felt…and maybe how I hadn’t yet learned I even existed.

He didn’t talk down to me, but he was careful, inquisitive and kind. It took time, but eventually I crawled into his lap and felt protected as he put his arm around me and bounced me on his knee.

Time went by…situations changed. My father married and eventually divorced again, after which I left home. A decade later I was introduced to work in the movie business. It was natural to me as dad had been a producer and I got a job in production accounting.

When the day came to be promoted from assistant to key accountant, the studio of that day sent me off on location. The film was 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2' ...and Dennis Hopper was one of its stars.

As most everyone does, he eventually came by the accounting office to say ‘hi,’ get his per diem and sign paperwork. Thanking him for his cooperation, I gave him regards from the step-mother.

He fixed me with a stare. “What…?" A beat... "NO!” He stood up, plainly horrified, holding his hand out at just under waist-high. “But you’re…you were…” 

He turned around and left.

Days later we came across each other on set. He looked at me with definite pleasure...and maybe even something close to pride. “I just never knew you were going to grow up.” He hugged me and I hugged him back – the years melted away and I was again protected in the warmth of his regard.

The world will miss Dennis Hopper – the actor, the friend, the patron of the arts and the all too human person. Personally, I will miss him for his honesty...and his simple acts of kindness.



  1. What a lovely tribute to the nature of the man. We all hope that those we leave behind have such good memories of our best attributes! It is a pleasure to see who Dennis was "behind the scenes." A funny juxtaposition with the Texas Chain Saw Massacre!

  2. P.S.: love the new layout of your blog page, Boots!

  3. The link is to a YouTube video of Dennis on the Johnny Cash show:

    Dennis Hopper recites a poem

    "From "The Johnny Cash Show," September 30, 1970. As Mr. Hopper points out prior to his impassioned recitation, "if" is the middle word in life."

  4. Thanks, David. Here's hoping a few people click on the link and get to hear Dennis' really wonderful 'speaking' of that poem. I think the man he was - and still is in a lot of hearts - comes through beautifully. He really knew how to think, feel and relate in the moment, not fenced in by the fears and needs of ego (as so many are) but liberated by some really special sense of awareness.

    Thanks mucho!

  5. Sean Penn's and Robin Wright's son, is named Hopper, after Dennis Hopper, I presume?