On this day 17th May
68 years ago the actor Claude Johnson was born he had a minor role in How the West Was Won
70 years ago the actor and director Dennis hopper was born he appeared with John Wayne in True Grit and The Sons of Katie Elder
Multi-talented and unconventional actor / director regarded by many as one of the true "enfant terribles" of Hollywood who has led an amazing cinematic career for more than five decades, Dennis Hopper was born on May 17, 1936, in Dodge City, Kansas. The young Hopper expressed interest in acting from a young age and first appeared in a slew of 1950s TV shows, including "Medic" (1954), "Cheyenne" (1955) and "Sugarfoot" (1957). His first film role was in Johnny Guitar (1954), which was quickly followed by roles in Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Giant (1956) and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957). Hopper actually became good friends with James Dean and was shattered when Dean was killed in a car crash in September, 1955.
Hopper portrayed a young Napoleon Bonaparte (!) in the star-spangled The Story of Mankind (1957) and regularly appeared on screen throughout the 1960s, often in rather undemanding parts, usually as a villain in westerns such as True Grit (1969) and Hang 'Em High (1968). However, in early 1969 Hopper, fellow actor Peter Fonda and writer Terry Southern wrote a counterculture road movie script and managed to scrape together $400,000 in financial backing. Hopper directed the low-budget film, titled Easy Rider (1969), starring Fonda, Hopper and a young Jack Nicholson. The film was a phenomenal box-office success, appealing to the anti-establishment youth culture of the times. It changed the Hollywood landscape almost overnight and major studios all jumped onto the anti-establishment bandwagon, pumping out low-budget films about rebellious hippies, bikers, draft dodgers and pot smokers. However, Hopper's next directorial effort, The Last Movie (1971), was a critical and financial failure, and he has admitted that during the 1970s he was seriously abusing various substances, both legal and illegal, which led to a downturn in the quality of his work. He appeared in a sparse collection of European-produced films over the next eight years, before cropping up in a memorable performance as a pot-smoking photographer alongside Marlon Brando and Martin Sheen in Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now (1979). He also received acclaim for his work in both acting and direction for Out of the Blue (1980).
With these two notable efforts, the beginning of the 1980s saw a renaissance of interest by Hollywood in the talents of Dennis Hopper, and exorcising the demons of drugs and alcohol via a rehabilitation program meant a return to invigorating and provoking performances. He was superb in Rumble Fish (1983), co-starred in the tepid spy thriller The Osterman Weekend (1983), played a groovy school teacher in My Science Project (1985), was a despicable and deranged drug dealer in River's Edge (1986) and, most memorably, electrified audiences as foul-mouthed Frank Booth in the eerie and erotic David Lynch film Blue Velvet (1986). Interestingly, the offbeat Hopper was selected in the early 1980s to provide the voice of "The StoryTeller" in the animated series of "Rabbit Ears" children's films based upon the works of Hans Christian Andersen!
Hopper returned to film direction in the late 1980s and was at the helm of the controversial gang film Colors (1988), which was well received by both critics and audiences. He was back in front of the cameras for roles in Super Mario Bros. (1993), got on the wrong side of gangster Christopher Walken in True Romance (1993), led police officer Keanu Reeves and bus passenger Sandra Bullock on a deadly ride in _Speed (1994)_ and challenged gill-man Kevin Costner for world supremacy in Waterworld (1995). The enigmatic Hopper has continued to remain busy through the 1990s and into the new century with performances in The Night We Called It a Day (2003), The Keeper (2004) and Land of the Dead (2005).
As well as his acting / directing talents, Hopper is a skilled photographer and painter, having had his works displayed in galleries in both the US and overseas. He is additionally a dedicated and knowledgeable collector of modern art and has one of the most extensive collections in the US.
*7 years ago Antonio 'Tony' Aquilar was born in Mexico. During his career he appeared or directed 125 pictures with only one being made in the United tates namely The Undefeated.
128 years ago the classic actor Conway Teale was born he appeared as an attorney in The Hurricane Express.
This West Point-educated actor was a tall, dark and handsome American co-star who romanced some of the most illustrious femme stars ever to appear on the silent silver screen. Conway Tearle was born in New York City on May 17, 1878 to a family of entertainers. Christened Frederick Levy, his father, Jules, was a jazz musician, and mother Marianne Conway, an American actress. Divorced when Conway was quite young, his mother subsequently married British Shakespearean actor/theatre manager Osmond Tearle and Conway was raised in England from the age of 10. He gained experience on his stepfather's stage and was alternately billed as Frederick Levy and Frederick Conway before settling on the name Conway Tearle. Having returned to the U.S. in 1905, he made his Broadway debut with "Abigail" that same year and would make a name for himself as a reliable romancer for nearly a decade before attempting films in 1914. His two half brothers, Godfrey Tearle and Malcolm Tearle would also become actors on both the stage and screen. Conway's more famous films were deemed "women's pictures" where he appeared meticulously as a dashing hero or ardent lover. Among his more notable were Helene of the North (1915) opposite Marguerite Clark, The Foolish Virgin (1916) and The Common Law (1916) both starring Clara Kimball Young, Stella Maris (1918) with Mary Pickford, A Virtuous Vamp (1919) with Constance Talmadge, She Loves and Lies (1920) and The Eternal Flame (1922), both opposite Norma Talmadge, Lilies of the Field (1924) featuring Corinne Griffith, and Dancing Mothers (1926) starring Clara Bow. Conway made a smooth transition into sound pictures and remained a leading star or prime support in "B" level pictures. He ended his film career spurned by Mae West in Klondike Annie (1936) and with a lesser role in the lavish production Romeo and Juliet (1936) starring Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard. He died of a heart attack at age 60.