Well, what would you do if your daughter said she was going to marry Dennis Hopper? Yes, the Dennis Hopper, a man who lurched through drugs, alcohol, hallucinations and a psychiatric ward before getting straight five years ago. A man whose roles, from Easy Rider’s pot-addled Billy to Blue Velvet’s psychopathic Frank Booth, have left audiences wondering what’s behind the mask. A thrice-married man (to Brooke Hayward, Michelle Phillips and Daria Halprin, respectively) who is 31 years older than his latest betrothed, Katherine LaNasa, 22, a ballerina and choreographer.
If you were Dr. James LaNasa Jr., 46, a Baton Rouge plastic surgeon, you’d blow a gasket. “Dad reacted really violently at first,” says Katherine’s brother, Steven, 17. “It was a big mess for a while. The parts that Dennis has played bothered him.” So did the age difference. But when Katherine refused to change her mind, Dad changed his. “You accept,” says James. “I can’t tell her who to love. I have a friend who’s 64 and married to a woman 34, and they’re doing fine. So you never know.” As for the groom, James adds, “He seems like a real fine man.”
With that paternal blessing, Dennis and Katherine were married at the Wayfarers Chapel, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., about 30 miles from their Venice home, in a ceremony attended by 100 guests (including Kiefer Sutherland and Carol Kane), three bridesmaids and 60-year-old Roddy McDowall as the ring bearer. The groom promised to make his fourth marriage work. “I am going to work on this one,” says Hopper, who met Katherine two years ago and claims, “It was love at first sight.”
At the end of the ceremony there was much kissing, handshaking and backslapping between Hopper and his in-laws. All seemed well. “I’m crazy about Dennis,” says Katherine’s mother, Anne, 43, an artist, “and I love his films. My favorite, and I hate to say it, is Blue Velvet.” James has been struggling to catch up with his son-in-law’s oeuvre. “I rented Easy Rider the other night, and it was really good,” he says. “But my wife wouldn’t let me see Blue Velvet.”
Says Anne: “He’s not ready for it.”