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Dennis Hopper on motorbike in Taos
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When Dennis Hopper passed away in May 2010, just a couple of weeks after his 74th birthday, American pop culture lost one of its greatest iconoclastic figureheads, and Taos lost one of its most colorful residents.

A great filmmaker, actor, photographer, and visual artist, Hopper’s career as a thespian began in his childhood. He first appeared on the big screen alongside James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause (1955) and Giant (1956) after having attended the Actors Studio and initially appearing on TV.

Dennis Hopper Finds His Way to Taos

Dennis Hopper’s life in Taos began with Easy Rider, the film he co-wrote with Peter Fonda and directed in 1969. It became the de facto cinematic emblem for the counterculture, and Hopper’s character in the movie, Billy, exemplified the anti-establishment idealism and rebellion of the 1960s. 

During the 1970s, Hopper made his home here in Taos. He bought the Big House that Tony Lujan had built for Mabel Dodge and filled it with family and friends for a constant, decade-long party. The escapades of Dennis Hopper’s life in Taos are legendary. But by the 1990s, Dennis had transformed himself into a consummate gentleman who aged gracefully, with dignity, and was creatively prolific to the end of his eventful life.

The Legacy of Dennis Hopper

Hopper was one of the bravest, most courageous artists that America (and Taos) has ever produced—unafraid to revisit places inside of himself that had caused him incredible distress to bring authenticity and grit to his art. Dennis Hopper was buried in Ranchos de Taos where he kept a home even after selling the Big House, or Mud Palace as it came to be known during his years there.

Dennis Hopper’s life in Taos was one he loved, and many of his family members still live here, brought here originally by Hopper when he needed people he trusted to have his back. They still do and so does our sacred mountain, of which Dennis has a view from his gravesite. Every year, thanks to his daughter Marin and friend Robby Romero, Taos celebrates Dennis Hopper Days with an Easy Rider Ride, music, movies, and memories of Dennis Hopper’s life in Taos.