A Renaissance Man from Kansas

The first time I met Dennis Hopper was in the mid-1990s when I was seated next to him at a formal dinner at the Cannes Film Festival. He was there with his bride, Victoria Duffy, she looking ravishing in a pink taffeta Richard Tyler gown, he in a natty tuxedo. He was in Cannes for a special screening of “Easy Rider,” which had debuted at Cannes three decades earlier and he recalled how cool and relaxed the festival was back then; the film’s star Jack Nicolson carried the reels to the screening himself, under his arms. Hopper was surprisingly cordial–a surprise given all the stories I had read about him of his drug years and his scarily convincing roles as madmen in “Blue Velvet” and “Speed.” But it was one of those official events where you make polite conversation and move on. So we did, and we did.