Dennis Hopper was honored in Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico on Saturday–the day the late actor would have celebrated his 78th birthday–as part of an Easy Rider Festival. Hopper made the iconic film and counterculture that followed it famous back in 1969. He died on May 29, 2010, and is actually buried not far from where the event was held. Fans are hoping to mark a celebration on the late actor’s birthday each year, calling it Dennis Hopper Day.
Several dozen motorcycles gathered to kick off the event and to enjoy a ride through some of the places Hopper made famous in the film. Let by a police escort, the ‘easy ride’ took place against a back drop of snow capped mountains–like the scenes in the film. Ranchos de Taos Town Manager Rick Bellis even got in on the festivities.
“His image really represents the spirit of Taos,” he said. “He was independent, slightly eccentric but incredibly talented. He sort of became a symbol for a whole new generation.”
Bellis also noted that Dennis Hopper made many contributions as a “resident, a filmmaker, a supporter of the arts and for simply being a ‘colorful member’ of the community.”
Hopper first arrived in New Mexico back in the late 60s, scouting out locations for the filming of Easy Rider. The indie film forced Hollywood to take a look at some of the many films shot on shoestring budgets that definitely deserved their shot at time on the big screen. Dennis Hopper not only introduced the film world and a new culture to the Taos region, but also opened up communications between many diverse cultures in the region.
— Dean Delray (@deandelray) May 18, 2014
“He walked across the multicultural borders here. I think that really started with him and the movie and has continued,” Bellis added. “In the last few years, we have really become that kind of community that he saw, that there was no difference between our ethnicities and who, when and where we came from. We all came here for the same reason, that awe of nature and that spirit of the last of the wild West, that independence.”
Dennis Hopper Day will grow, too, in future years if the planners of this year’s Easy Rider Festival have their say. Music performances and film venues are already tapped for next year’s event.
Image via Wikimedia Commons