Character actor Bo Hopkins, who appeared in George Lucas’ American Graffiti and the Oscar-winning hit Midnight Express, has died at age 80.
Hopkins died at Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys after suffering a heart attack. His death was confirmed on his official website, Variety reported.
‘It is with great sadness that we announce that Bo has passed away,’ reads a statement on the website. ‘Bo loved hearing from his fans from around the world and although he was unable to respond to every email over the last few years, he appreciated hearing from each and every one of you.’
Hopkins illustrious career spanned more than five decades, with more than a hundred TV and film roles. A versatile character actor, who had a keen ability to play a bad guy and good guy, made him a favorite among his adoring fans, and the directors, he worked with.
Some of his standout movie roles include a double-crossed bank robber in the 1972 classic, The Getaway, Clarence ‘Crazy’ Lee in the 1969 film, The Wild Bunch and as a weapons expert in the 1975 film, The Killer Elite, by director Sam Peckinpah.
In 2020, he appeared in his last film, Hillbilly Elegy, directed by Ron Howard, with his former American Graffiti co-stars.
Character actor Bo Hopkins, who appeared in George Lucas’ American Graffiti and Oscar-winning Midnight Express, has died aged 80
The most recent picture of Hopkins was this snap shared on his Instagram in 2019
Learning the news of his passing, many Hollywood stars sent tributes to the late actor.
Actress Glenn Close, who appeared with him in his recent Hillbilly Elegy, described as an ‘actor to his core,’ and posted a heartfelt message on Instagram on Saturday.
‘Just heard that the wonderful Bo Hopkins died peacefully, early this morning, with his devoted wife, Sian, holding his hand, it was a great privilege to work with Bo in HILLBILLY ELEGY,’ Close wrote. ‘He was an actor to his core and put his heart into every take. He was a gentleman and a gentleman. ‘
She continued: ‘He may have once, during his early days, around the time of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, been one of the bad boys, but I got acquainted and enjoyed the company of a man with a twinkle in his eye and the heart of a knight. ‘
‘Ant-Man’ director Peyton Reed wrote: ‘I love Bo Hopkins. One of my all-time favorite character actors. Rest In Peace. ‘
Hopkins is survived by his wife Sian Eleanor Green, 64, who he has been married to since 1989, their son, Matthew, and daughter Jane Hopkins.
Hopkins playing the role of Joe in the 1973 film, American Graffiti
Hopkins in the 1975 film, Posse, which was directed by Kirk Douglas
Hopkins, played Joe in the 1980s smash hit soap opera Dynasty
Hopkins (pictured right) appeared in his last film, Hillbilly Elegy with director Ron Howard
The handsome actor whose formal name was William Mauldin Hopkins was born February 2, 1938 in Greenville, South Carolina.
At 9 months, Hopkins was adopted by a couple who was unable to conceive. His adoptive father worked at a local mill and his mother was a homemaker. When Hopkins was only nine, his father died of a heart attack. He had only been 38.
He witnessed his father’s passing while standing on the family porch with his mother.
After his father’s death, his mother eventually remarried. Hopkins reportedly did not get along with his new stepfather, and after running away from home a few times and was sent to live with his grandparents.
It was there that he learned that he was adopted. At age 12, he met his birth mother, and half-siblings, who lived in Lockhart, a small mill town in South Carolina.
Growing up, Hopkins had gone through some challenging times and after dropping out of school, he joined the United States Army at age 17.
He was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division and was later sent to Korea where he served for nine months.
After his military service he married a girl named Norma and the young couple had a child together, a daughter named Jane.
During this time, Hopkins became interested in acting, although his wife disapproved, and she eventually left him, and took their daughter with her.
Hopkins started his acting career in some local plays and then moved to Kentucky to study at the Pioneer Playhouse after he received a scholarship, and eventually made his way to New York City.
In New York, he was in an off-Broadway production of Bus Stop.
When the producers asked him to change his name he went with Bo Hopkins, the name of the character he was playing, which later became his stage name throughout his career.
Hopkins playing Crazy Lee (pictured left) in the 1969 film, The Wild Bunch
Bo Hopkins (pictured left) in the 1979 TV series, The Rockford Files
Bo pictured with his wife, Sian, 64, and their son, Matthew at his 2017 school graduation
After his stint in New York, he ended up in Hollywood at an acting school at the Desilu-Cahuenga Studios and then at the Actors Studio.
In addition to his work in film, Hopkins’ TV credits include some all-time classics including, The Rockford Files, Charlie’s Angels, The A-Team, Hotel and Dynasty, according to The Hollywood Reporter.