By Kat Kramer
I was saddened by the news that Dennis Hopper had passed away. I found out before it hit the news. He was the genuine article: actor, director, artist, photographer, visionary, maverick, rebel, legend, and friend. I had known him, and considered him a mentor. My mother, actress Karen Sharpe, co-starred with Dennis in the late 1950s in a program called Conflict, a popular television serial.
The episode was called “No-Man’s Road.” We all watched a rare copy of it at his home in Venice a few years ago. Dennis was always very supportive of my singing and acting career. He came to some of my live shows: one in particular stands out, when I opened at The famed Jazz Bakery for jazz legend Anita O’Day. In fact, I owned the rights to her life story at the time and Dennis wanted to make the film of her life. I wanted to play young Anita, and her music was a passion we both shared. Dennis also put himself on the line for me, once which I never forgot. We attended all of his art shows, my mother and myself. A couple of years ago, Dennis had a fantastic exhibit at The ACE Gallery that was a once-in-a-lifetime show for any artist. The opening was star studded. I will always remember the day he gave me the private tour. I will always remember visiting him on sets, and his kindness and generosity to me. Most recently, Dennis received his long overdue star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame. I personally lobbied to help make that a reality with the Hollywood Chamber. He was truly honored and touched at the ceremony back in March. Sadly, that was the last time I ever saw him. I plan to have my own special screening this year of his landmark film Easy Rider at the Sunset-Gower lot, which used to be Columbia where the film originated. Dennis appeared on The Stanley Kramer Film Collection, Volume 1 in the special features section of The Wild One, the cult classic biker film my father made with Marlon Brando. Like my father, Dennis Hopper was a true maverick in every sense of the word. On July 11th there will be a very special tribute to Dennis at MOCA called “Dennis Hopper Double Standard.” It is currated by Julian Schnabel, and is a show Dennis was involved with up until the last few days. Dennis Hopper is one of those unique, gifted individuals who comes along once in a lifetime. He will be missed.