Actor Dennis Hopper remembered at NM service
RANCHOS DE TAOS, N.M. – Jack Nicholson and Val Kilmer were among the actors who mixed Wednesday in New Mexico with dozens of Dennis Hopper’s relatives, friends and Taos locals to remember the two-time Oscar nominee at a memorial Mass.
Hopper’s simple wooden coffin was ushered into the adobe chapel at historic San Francisco de Asis church.
Hopper, who was twice nominated for Oscars and earned a star this year on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, died Saturday at age 74 at his home in Los Angeles. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009.
Nicholson, cast alongside Hopper in “Easy Rider” as a drunken young lawyer in a breakout role, described Hopper as “an all-around guy.”
“It was a very singular relationship I had with him, like nobody else. We were soul mates in a way. I really miss him,” Nicholson said.
The church’s bells chimed as Hopper’s casket was brought into the chapel and again as it was taken out after the two-hour service. The rumbles of about half a dozen motorcycles could be heard in the distance as the casket was taken away in a funeral procession.
A private burial was to follow.
Hopper first came to New Mexico in 1969 to scout locations for the iconic “Easy Rider.” He lived in Taos for 12 years through the early 1980s.
Mourners who poured out of the chapel after the service described it as “lovely,” “tender” and “beautiful,” without mention of Hollywood or Hopper’s public persona.
During the service, Hopper’s son, Henry Lee Hopper, drew tears from many in the crowd as he read from Walt Whitman’s collection of poems, “Leaves of Grass.” Other relatives also spoke.
Many said the Mass gave them a sense of Hopper’s spirit.
Before the service, Kilmer, who lives near Pecos, N.M., said the last conversation he had with Hopper was on an airplane flight, recalling that Hopper could always make him laugh.
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