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Ailing Dennis Hopper gets a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame

The actor is saluted by friends and gives thanks to fans during the ceremony.

March 27, 2010|By Amy Kaufman
  • Jack Nicholson, left, and Dennis Hopper, who worked together in "Easy Rider," talk at the ceremony. Hopper, who previously announced that he has prostate cancer, told the crowd that he had bandages on his arm and above his eye because of a fall on Thursday.
Jack Nicholson, left, and Dennis Hopper, who worked together in "Easy… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

Months after revealing that he was battling prostate cancer, Dennis Hopper was back in front of the cameras on Friday when he received the 2,403rd star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

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 Theatre. Nevertheless, the actor has lost a significant amount of weight; his face, shaded partly by a newsboy cap, was gaunt and a heavy jacket hung off his body.

"Everyone here today that I've invited -- and obviously some that I haven't invited -- have enriched my life tremendously," Hopper said when accepting his star. "They've shown me a world that I'd never seen, being a farm boy from Dodge City, Kansas."

At the event, hundreds of fans crowded behind metal barricades to snap pictures and cheer for the actor as Leron Gubler, 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," "Hoosiers" and "Speed."

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, singer Johnny Mathis 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."

Also in attendance were members of Hopper's family, including his daughter Galen, who was celebrating her seventh birthday. Throughout the proceedings she bounced to her feet to cheer for her father, later posing for pictures with her arms around his neck.

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 explained that he had bandages on his arm and above his eye because of a fall on Thursday. He then addressed those in attendance.

"Everything I learned -- I got it all from you, so this has been my home and my schooling," Hopper said.

"And I love all of you," he said. "And I just want to thank you. That's all I can do."

Hopper has become a tabloid staple since January, when he filed for divorce after 14 years of marriage. A bitter and much-publicized feud has ensued between him and his wife, Victoria.

Joseph Mannis, Hopper's lawyer, has said the actor is too weak to participate in a deposition for the divorce case. Friday's appearance was approved by Hopper's doctor, who said in court documents that the ceremony would be a positive experience for the actor. Doctors have described Hopper's cancer as terminal.

After the ceremony, Broad hugged Hopper for a few moments. The two became close because of Hopper's work as an art collector, artist and photographer. Broad, who sits on the board of the Museum of Contemporary Art, said the museum would hold an exhibition devoted to Hopper this summer.

"I think Dennis is a great person, a great asset to the film industry, to the art world and to Los Angeles," Broad said.

"So you can't pay attention to what some of these tabloid stories are about. He's a great friend."

amy.kaufman@latimes.com

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