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Judge asks Hopper family to put aside differences

By Alan Duke, CNN
Dennis Hopper's lawyer says the actor, 73, is a desperately sick man.
Dennis Hopper's lawyer says the actor, 73, is a desperately sick man.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dennis Hopper's estranged wife can keep living in family's California home
  • Judge said family should put differences aside for Galen Hopper, 6
  • Hopper is undergoing radical chemotherapy for advanced prostate cancer
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Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- Dennis Hopper's estranged wife can keep living in the family's Venice, California, compound with the couple's daughter while their divorce under way, a judge ruled Monday.

Hopper's lawyer argued that the actor, 73, is a desperately sick man whose death may be hastened by living near his wife.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Amy Pellman listened Monday morning as lawyers for Victoria and Dennis Hopper argued over money, but the judge said they should put differences aside for Galen Hopper, 6.

Pointing to the back row of the courtroom, Pellman spoke to Hopper's adult son and two daughters, who lawyers said have been squabbling with their stepmother.

"If you care about this little girl who is about to experience the death of her father, having an extended war with her mother is not in her best interests," Pellman said. "Make every effort to sit down with each other, or with a third party, and try to put your feelings aside."

Hopper, who doctors say is suffering from terminal prostate cancer, filed for divorce from his wife of 14 years in January.

"If this child loses her father, her aunts, her little cousins and her uncle all at the same time, I can only imagine the trauma that she's going to go through," the judge said. "All the money in the world will not make up for losing her family."

Although Hopper's lawyer said the actor is running out of cash because he can no longer work and is paying $26,000 a month for medical care, Pellman ordered him to give Victoria $8,000 a month in spousal support and $4,000 in child support. He must also pay for mortgages, her utilities and half of the $5,000 each month Victoria Hopper pays to care for her horses.

Hopper is undergoing radical chemotherapy for advanced, metastasized prostate cancer, his doctor said. He was too weak to attend Monday's hearing, attorney Joseph Mannis said.

His cancer doctor said in a sworn statement that he was also too ill to be questioned by lawyers in the divorce.

Hopper's acting career has spanned almost six decades. In the 1950s, he had roles in several TV shows and films, including "Rebel Without a Cause" (1955) and "Giant" (1956). He became a Hollywood sensation for "Easy Rider," the 1969 film he directed and co-wrote in which he played a dissolute, counter cultural biker. He was twice nominated for Oscars.