February 11, 2010 / 6:42 PM / 10 years ago

Dennis Hopper's divorce battle getting uglier

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Civil war is raging at the house of cancer-stricken actor Dennis Hopper, who is seeking a divorce from his fifth wife so that he can spend more time with their 6-year-old daughter in what could be his dying days.

Actor Dennis Hopper watches the Breeders' Cup World Championship thoroughbred horse racing at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California November 7, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Hopper, 73, who is undergoing chemotherapy for advanced, metastasized prostate cancer, filed declarations along with his children, doctors and assistant in Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday to support his divorce petition.

The director and co-star of “Easy Rider” filed for divorce from Victoria Duffy, 42, on January 14, and said in a subsequent statement that he wanted to spend “these difficult days surrounded by my children and close friends.”

The divorce battle is largely a tug-of-war over the couple’s daughter, Galen. A Los Angeles judge on Thursday awarded Hopper daily visitation rights to Galen after the actor claimed Duffy had taken her away from him for extended periods.

The judge also issued a restraining order against Duffy, saying she must stay 10 feet away from Hopper and his adult children, and barred her from entering Hopper’s main residence.

The latest batch of court documents details a lot of screaming and shouting among the inhabitants of the counter-culture icon’s five-home compound in the coastal Los Angeles suburb of Venice, with Duffy cast as the villain.

She is variously described as “extremely volatile” “insane and out of her mind,” and “inhuman.” Her husband of 13 years, meanwhile, has shrunk to 120 pounds (54 kg) and vomits after taking his medication, according to the papers.


“Victoria has made my father’s life a living hell over at least the last six months,” said a deposition from Henry Hopper, the actor’s 19-year-old son with his fourth wife.

The teen, also an actor, was accused by Duffy last year of stealing some of his father’s priceless artworks. She changed the locks at the compound to keep him out. They were later found in a basement where they had long been in storage, the documents said.

For his part, Dennis Hopper said he spent Christmas “in utter distress” after Duffy spirited their daughter Galen to Boston. “This malevolent act ... has caused me to miss what may very well be my last Christmas with my daughter Galen,” Hopper said in his filing.

The declarations come on the heels of Duffy’s own responsive declaration in which she depicted her husband as an abusive, gun-toting pot-smoker. She also claimed that he did not want a divorce but was being pressured by his three adult children. particularly his eldest daughter, Marin, 47.

Hopper, according to Duffy, was “more often than not incapable of handling his legal and financial affairs.”

Not true, countered Hopper, with supporting documents from two doctors who determined that he was fully competent. He said he filed for divorce “clearly and deliberately, without any pressure or influence exerted upon me by any other person.”

Moreover, said his personal physician David Agus, “It is my belief and recommendation that the less Mr. Hopper has to do with his estranged wife at this time, the more likely he is to have his life extended.”

Hopper’s domestic life has never been dull. One of his marriages included an eight-day union with Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas in 1970. Phillips later told Vanity Fair that she was subjected to “excruciating” treatment.

Editing by Jill Serjeant

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