Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Godspeed Bo Hopkins

Bo Hopkins, who appeared in such films as The Wild Bunch (1969) and American Graffiti (1973), died on May 28 2022 at the age of 84. The cause was a heart attack.

Bo Hopkins was born on February 2 1938 in Greenville, South Carolina. He was adopted at age nine months. He eventually met his birth mother and got to know his siblings. His father worked in a sawmill and died at age 39 from a heart attack. His mother eventually remarried and young Bo Hopkins did not get along well with his stepfather. He was then sent to live with his grandparents. Bo Hopkins was in and out of trouble throughout his youth. After a robbery that had gone wrong, he was about to be sent to reform school when he joined the United States Army. He served in the 101st Airborne Division and was stationed at  Fort Jackson, Fort Gordon, and Fort Pope before serving in Korea for nine months.

Following his service, Bo Hopkins went back to Greenville where he was cast in a local production of The Teahouse of the August Moon. He received a scholarship to the Pioneer Playhouse in Danville, Kentucky. After his stint with Pioneer Playhouse, Bo Hopkins moved to New York City where he appeared in an Off-Broadway production of Bus Stop and other plays. He took the name "Bo" from the character he played in Bus Stop, Bo Decker.

From New York City Bo Hopkins moved onto Hollywood where he received a scholarship at the acting school at the Desilu-Cahuenga Studios. Afterwards he received a place as an observer at the Los Angeles branch of The Actors Studio. Bo Hopkins made his television debut in 1966 in The Pruitts of Southampton. In the late Sixties he guest starred on such shows as The Virginian,. Gunsmoke, The Wild Wild West, The Andy Griffith Show, Judd for the Defense, The Rat Patrol, The Guns of Will Sonnett, Bonanza, and The Mod Squad. He made his film debut in 1968 in Dayton's Devils. In the late Sixties he appeared in the films The Thousand Plane Raid (1969), The Wild Bunch (1969), The Bridge of Remagen (1969), The Moonshine War (1970), Macho Callahan (1970), and Monte Walsh (1970).

In the Seventies Bo Hopkins was a regular on the short-lived TV show Doc Eliot. He also had a recurring role on The Rockford Files. He guest starred on the shows Ironside, Nichols, Hawaii Five-O, Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers, The Manhunter, The Rookies, Barnaby Jones, Jigsaw John, Having Babies, and Charlie's Angels. He appeared in the mini-series Aspen. Bo Hopkins appeared in several TV movies, including The Kansas City Massacre, The Invasion of Johnson County, Thaddeus Rose and Eddie, and The Last Ride of the Dalton Gang. In the Seventies he appeared in the movies The Culpepper Cattle Co.  (1972), The Only Way Home (1972), The Getaway (1972), The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973), American Graffiti (1973), White Lightning (1973), The Nickel Ride (1974), The Day of the Locust (1975), Posse (1975), The Killer Elite (1975), A Small Town in Texas (1976), Tentacoli (1977), Midnight Express (1978), The Fifth Floor (1978), and More American Graffiti (1978).

In the Eighties Bo Hopkins played the role of Matthew Blaisdel on the TV show Dynasty. He guest starred on the show Fantasy Island;Matt Houston, The A-Team; Hotel; Finder of Lost Loves; The Hitchhiker; Scarecrow and Mrs. King; Murder, She Wrote; The Fall Guy; Crazy Like a Fox; and Mike Hammer. He appeared in the movies Sweet Sixteen (1983), Night Shadows (1984), What Comes Around (1985), Nightmare at Noon (1988), Trapper County War (1989), President's Target (1989), The Bounty Hunter (1989), Big Bad John (1990), and The Final Alliance (1990).

In the Nineties Mr. Hopkins guest starred on the shows Matlock and Murder, She Wrote. He was a guest voice on The Angry Beavers. He appeared in such TV movies as Blood Ties and Wyatt Earp, Return to Tombstone. He appeared in the movies Fertilize the Blaspheming Bombshell (1992), Center of the Web (1992), Inside Monkey Zetterland (1992), The Legend of Wolf Mountain (1992), The Ballad of Little Jo (1993), Radioland Murders (1994), Texas Payback (1995), Riders in the Storm (1995), Painted Hero (1996), U Turn (1997), Phantoms (1998), The Newton Boys (1998), Lunker Lake (1998), Getting to Know You (1999), From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999) , South of Heaven, West of Hell (2000), Big Brother Trouble (2000), Vice (2000), and The Thundering 8th (2000).

In the Naughts and the Teens Bo Hopkins appeared in the movies A Crack in the Floor (2001), Cowboy Up (2001), Choosing Mathias (2001), Don't Let Go (2002), City of Ghosts (2002), Shade (2003), The Road Home (2003), Open Window (2006), A Little Christmas Business (2013), The Boys at the Bar (2016), and Hillbilly Elegy (2020).

Bo Hopkins was a remarkable actor. He had a particular gift for playing villains or characters who were close to villainous, including Crazy Lee in The Wild Bunch, Pharaohs gang leader Little Joe Young in American Graffiti, and even Pretty Boy Floyd in the TV movie The Kansas City Massacre. At the same time he was able to play other roles. He was the protagonist in the slasher movie Sweet Sixteen, playing Sheriff Dan Burke who was investigating the murders. It was hardly the only time he played lawmen, as he also played them in such varied movies as A Small Town in Texas, Trapper County War, and A Crack in the Floor. Whether he was playing an outlaw or a lawman, Bo Hopkins always gave a good performance. He was a massive talent.

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