Dennis Hopper Lives! (And He's Selling Vans Shoes and Apparel)

Late actor looms large on NYC and L.A. billboards

Dennis Hopper—undead, gigantic and loose on the streets of New York and Los Angeles? This is a bad trip, man! In fact, it's an ad campaign by skater brand Vans to promote clothes and shoes decorated with the Hollywood legend's artwork and photographs. The man died in May 2010, but the new billboards—featuring a photo of Hopper by Mary Ellen Mark, in some cases a huge painted version of it—proclaim "Hopper Lives," apparently a riff on the "Bird Lives!" graffiti that appeared around NYC following jazz great Charlie "Bird" Parker's passing 56 years ago. LA Weekly says the Hopper image "would be a wonderful poster if it weren't an ad," adding: "The magic of the 'Bird Lives!' graffiti was that it was illicit, underground and subject to erasure and disappearance. We're very much stuck staring at 'Hopper Lives' until the line makes its debut at [Urban Outfitters] this fall." Hopper was ultimately accused of selling out, but I think he had the perfect career/life arc. His over-the-top hippie/psycho film roles and counterculture braggadocio made him a cult icon—then he humped the camera for cash in those Ameriprise commercials. And the guy was probably stoned through it all. Now that's the American dream! The Vans apparel line itself consists mainly of ugly sneakers and T-shirts and jackets in cotton and polyester—though sadly, no blue velvet.