LAWRENCE SCHILLER (Writer / Director / Producer)
Lawrence Schiller attended Pepperdine College, where his pictures had already appeared in Life, Sport, Playboy, Glamour, and the Saturday Evening Post. Schiller’s interests and ambitions soon developed into a profession in print journalism, documenting major stories for glossy magazines all over the world, including Life, Look, Newsweek, Time, Paris Match, Stern, and the London Sunday Times. His iconic images of Robert F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Bette Davis, Barbra Streisand, Marilyn Monroe, Muhammad Ali, and Madame Nhu, among others are tributes to his doggedness, ingenuity, and charm as well as to his technical proficiency. In November 1963, while on assignment for the Saturday Evening Post, he reached Dallas in time to photograph Lee Harvey Oswald. Later, he landed Jack Ruby’s final interview. After extensive interviews with the widow of Lenny Bruce, Schiller and the writer Albert Goldman published Ladies and Gentlemen, Lenny Bruce (1974); and, with the photographer W. Eugene Smith, he produced Minamata (1975), the epic pictorial chronicle of mercury poisoning in Japan. Schiller moved into motion pictures by directing a portion of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) with Paul Newman and Robert Redford, and Lady Sings the Blues (1972), with Diana Ross. He also directed the Oscar-winning documentary The Man Who Skied Down Everest (1972); The American Dreamer (1971), a film on Dennis Hopper; and, after obtaining extraordinary cooperation from the Kremlin, executive produced and co-directed Peter the Great (1986), the Emmy Award-winning television mini-series starring Maximilian Schell, Vanessa Redgrave, and Laurence Olivier.
Perhaps nothing in Schiller’s career proved more remarkable, though, than his collaboration with Norman Mailer — a friendship unique in American literary history. For nearly thirty-five years the two worked closely together, on books including Marilyn (1973), The Faith of Graffiti (1974), Oswald’s Tale (1995), Into the Mirror (2002), and The Executioner’s Song (1979), for which Mailer won the Pulitzer Prize. Schiller, who did much of the legwork, interviews, and research for Executioner’s Song, outmaneuvered numerous other reporters to gain exclusive access to the book’s subject, Gary Gilmore, and went on to produce and direct the award-winning television miniseries based upon it, starring Tommy Lee Jones. Similarly, Schiller managed to embed himself into the so-called “Dream Team” defending O. J. Simpson, and with his unique insider’s perspective on the case, co-wrote (with James Willwerth) the New York Times best-selling American Tragedy (1996). In total he is the author or co-author of twelve books including two books of photography, Marilyn & Me: A Memoir in Words and Photographs (2012) and Barbara Streisand (2014), both published by TASCHEN. Following the death of Norman Mailer in 2007, Schiller was named senior advisor to the Mailer estate, and is president and co-founder of the Norman Mailer Center and Writers Colony in Provincetown, Massachusetts. He has been a consultant to NBC News and the Annie Liebovitz Studios and has written for The New Yorker, The Daily Beast, among other publications. In 2015 he executive produced two 2-hour films for A&E Cable Network. He has five children and five grandchildren; and lives in New York and Los Angeles.
L.M. KIT CARSON (Writer / Director)
L.M. Kit Carson was a talented and versatile Texan writer, actor and producer whose career has taken a diverse and always interesting course. He was born in Dallas, to Louise (Roche) and Minor Lee Carson. His first appearance was the lead in the acclaimed David Holzman's Diary (1967). He moved into writing, with initially mixed results in The Last Word (1979) and Breathless (1983) before his beautiful adaptation of Sam Shepard's Paris, Texas (1982) tangibly showed his talent. Next up was the oddity The Chinese Box (1986) before associate producing and writing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986).
It was back to acting in 1988 for an effective appearance in the acclaimed Running on Empty. A family friend of the Wilson brothers, their black-and-white 13 minute Bottle Rocket made its way into his hands in 1994. His championing of it was instrumental in Wes Anderson being given funding to shoot a full-length version in 1996, which he co-produced. Carson's output was nothing if not varied - including several collaborations with his son, Hunter Carson, from his marriage to actress Karen Black; Hurricane Streets (1997) was a worthwhile drama of inner- city kids, Midsummer (1997) an interesting take on Shakespeare. He reprised his role of David Holzman for Grifin Dunne's industry mockumentary Lisa Picard is Famous (2000) then produced and wrote the disastrous Bullfigher (2000). Since then, Perfume (2001) was a behind-the-scenes look at the fashion industry, CQ (2001) a homage to European cinema of the 60s and staying in Paris the interesting low-budget thriller Tempo (2003). L.M. Kit Carson died in 2014.
DENNIS HOPPER (Writer / Actor)
Multi-talented and unconventional actor/director regarded by many as one of the true "enfant terribles" of Hollywood who has led an amazing cinematic career for more than five decades, Dennis Hopper was born on May 17, 1936 in Dodge City, Kansas, to Marjorie Mae (Davis) and James Millard Hopper. The young Hopper expressed interest in acting from a young age and first appeared in a slew of 1950s television series, including Medic (1954), Cheyenne (1955) and Sugarfoot (1957). His first film role was in Johnny Guitar (1954), which was quickly followed by roles in Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Giant (1956) and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957). Hopper actually became good friends with James Dean and was shattered when Dean was killed in a car crash on September 30, 1955.
Hopper portrayed a young Napoléon Bonaparte in the star-spangled The Story of Mankind (1957) and regularly appeared on screen throughout the 1960s, often in rather undemanding parts, usually as a villain in westerns such as True Grit (1969) and Hang 'Em High (1968). However, in early 1969, Hopper, fellow actor Peter Fonda and writer Terry Southern, wrote a counterculture road movie script and managed to scrape together $400,000 in financial backing. Hopper directed the low-budget film, titled Easy Rider (1969), starring Fonda, Hopper and a young Jack Nicholson. The film was a phenomenal box-office success, appealing to the anti-establishment youth culture of the times. It changed the Hollywood landscape almost overnight and major studios all jumped onto the anti- establishment bandwagon, pumping out low-budget films about rebellious hippies, bikers, draft dodgers and pot smokers. However, Hopper's next directorial effort, The Last Movie (1971), was a critical and financial failure, and he has admitted that during the 1970s he was seriously abusing various substances, both legal and illegal, which led to a downturn in the quality of his work. He appeared in a sparse collection of European-produced films over the next eight years, before cropping up in a memorable performance as a pot-smoking photographer alongside Marlon Brando and Martin Sheen in Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now (1979). He also received acclaim for his work in both acting and direction for Out of the Blue (1980).
With these two notable efforts, the beginning of the 1980s saw a renaissance of interest by Hollywood in the talents of Dennis Hopper and exorcising the demons of drugs and alcohol via a rehabilitation program meant a return to invigorating and provoking performances. He was superb in Rumble Fish (1983), co-starred in the tepid spy thriller The Osterman Weekend (1983), played a groovy school teacher in My Science Project (1985), was a despicable and deranged drug dealer in River's Edge (1986) and, most memorably, electrified audiences as foul-mouthed Frank Booth in the eerie and erotic David Lynch film Blue Velvet (1986). Interestingly, the offbeat Hopper was selected in the early 1980s to provide the voice of "The Story Teller" in the animated series of "Rabbit Ears" children's films based upon the works of Hans Christian Andersen!
Hopper returned to film direction in the late 1980s and was at the helm of the controversial gang film Colors (1988), which was well received by both critics and audiences. He was back in front of the cameras for roles in Super Mario Bros. (1993), got on the wrong side of gangster Christopher Walken in True Romance (1993), led police officer Keanu Reeves and bus passenger Sandra Bullock on a deadly ride in Speed (1994) and challenged gill-man Kevin Costner for world supremacy in Waterworld (1995). The enigmatic Hopper has continued to remain busy through the 1990s and into the new century with performances in The Night We Called It a Day (2003), The Keeper (2004) and Land of the Dead (2005). As well as his acting/directing talents, Hopper was a skilled photographer and painter, having had his works displayed in galleries in both the United States and overseas. He was additionally a dedicated and knowledgeable collector of modern art and has one of the most extensive collections in the United States. Dennis Hopper died of prostate cancer on May 29, 2010, less than two weeks after his 74th birthday.