Dennis Hopper: So Wild, So Long

I wanted to hear Tenn's impressions of various people, so many of our conversations consisted of names being mentioned, after which he would create what he called a "rapid-style portrait" of the subject.

Here are his thoughts on Dennis Hopper.

He was marvelously acquisitive: He wanted to collect and study and admire and watch--in a voyeuristic way--things and people. He was very much a Midwest man--laconic,  tough--but he could then display a remarkable sentimentalism, which would include, as it did with me, a lengthy and fascinating tour of the Hollywood hills, with all of its stories and its legends and its scandals, followed by a lovely dinner and a blissful night in a bed surrounded by art and exotic scents. I hasten to add that I spent the night in bed alone, but not before Dennis talked to me until I fell asleep. He wanted, I think, both my comfort, and for every last detail to be shared.

He was a product of childhood art classes, which expanded his imagination and his ambition before he had any suitable outlets for the talent that emerged. I think this is why he was so wild for so long: There was simply no place for his work to be as good as it was meant to be. He lived in the world of James Dean and Nick Adams--tragic, sexually jumbled young men--and he paid homage to the oddest mentors Hollywood had at one time: Samson De Brier and Kenneth Anger, two vaguely Satanic, shamanistic homosexuals who took meager talents and voracious and acquisitive addictions to a height that was almost artistic. From De Brier, at least, Dennis learned how movies were made and why. He learned about legends. I think he would like to be a legend. He's working on it.

Dennis, like me, turned to painting. One needs to create, to expand, to share. He also took to photography, and he captured, in a way, a lot of what it was like to be in his presence. Moody and smart and cynical until he breaks into a fulsome sweetness. He needs danger and, God love him, he seems to find it. I hear he's back: He's working with good directors again.

I'm terribly fond of him. I would like to see him do well.

Andy Warhol

Ike and Tina Turner

Jane Fonda and Roger Vadim

Tuesday Weld

Paul Newman

David McCallum and Tuesday Weld

Jasper Johns

Sandy Dennis and George Segal, on the Warner Bros. backlot.

Hollywood Double Standard


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