American Graffiti actor Bo Hopkins dies of heart attack at 80

Character actor Bo Hopkins, who appeared in George Lucas’s American Graffiti and the Oscar-winning hit Midnight Express, has died at the age of 80.

Hopkins died at Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys after suffering a heart attack. His death was confirmed on his official website, Variety informed.

“It is with great sadness that we announce that Bo has passed away,” read a statement on the website. “Bo loved hearing from his fans all over the world and although he couldn’t respond to all the emails over the years, he appreciated hearing from each and every one of you.”

Hopkins’ illustrious career spanned more than five decades, with more than one hundred television and film roles. A versatile character actor, who had a knack for playing a bad guy and a good guy, made him a favorite among his fans and the directors he worked with.

Some of his notable film 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. from Principal Sam. Peckinpah.

In 2020, he appeared in his latest film, Hillbilly Elegy, directed by Ron Howard, with his former American Graffiti co-stars.

Character actor Bo Hopkins, who appeared in George Lucas's American Graffiti and the Oscar-winning Midnight Express, has died at the age of 80.

Character actor Bo Hopkins, who appeared in George Lucas’s American Graffiti and the Oscar-winning Midnight Express, has died at the age of 80.

Hopkins' most recent photo was this snapshot shared on his Instagram in 2019

Hopkins’ most recent photo was this snapshot shared on his Instagram in 2019

Upon hearing 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 him as an “actor through and through” and posted a heartfelt message on Instagram on Saturday.

“Just learned that the wonderful Bo Hopkins passed away peacefully, early this morning, with his devoted wife, Sian, holding his hand. It was a great privilege working with Bo on HILLBILLY ELEGY,” Close wrote. “He was an actor through and through and he put his heart into every take. He was a gentleman and a gentle man.

She continued, “I may have been one of the bad boys sometime in his early days, back in the days of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, but I met and enjoyed the company of a man with a twinkle in his eye and a heart of a gentleman.’

‘Ant-Man’ director Peyton Reed wrote: ‘I love Bo Hopkins. One of my favorite character actors of all time. May he rest in peace.’

Hopkins is survived by his wife Sian Eleanor Green, 64, to whom he has been married since 1989, his son, Matthew, and his daughter, Jane Hopkins.

Hopkins playing the role of Joe in the 1973 film, American Graffiti

Hopkins playing the role of Joe in the 1973 film, American Graffiti

Hopkins in the 1975 film Posse, directed by Kirk Douglas.

Hopkins in the 1975 film Posse, directed by Kirk Douglas.

Hopkins played Joe on the hit 1980s soap opera Dynasty.

Hopkins played Joe on the hit 1980s soap opera Dynasty.

Hopkins (pictured right) appeared in his latest film, Hillbilly Elegy, with director Ron Howard.

Hopkins (pictured right) appeared in his latest film, Hillbilly Elegy, with director Ron Howard.

The handsome actor whose formal name was William Mauldin Hopkins was born on February 2, 1938, in Greenville, South Carolina.

At 9 months, Hopkins was adopted by a couple who couldn’t conceive. His adoptive father worked in a local mill and his mother was a housewife. When Hopkins was just nine years old, his father died of a heart attack. He was only 38 years old.

He witnessed his father pass away 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 several times, he was sent to live with his grandparents.

It was there that he learned he was adopted. At age 12, he met his biological mother and his half-siblings, who lived in Lockhart, a small industrial town in South Carolina.

Growing up, Hopkins had fallen on hard 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 later posted to Korea, where he served for nine months.

After his military service he married a girl named Norma and the young couple had one child together, a daughter named Jane.

During this time, Hopkins became interested in acting, although his wife did not approve, eventually leaving him and taking their daughter with her.

Hopkins began his career acting in a few local plays and then moved to Kentucky to study at the Pioneer Playhouse after receiving a scholarship, eventually making his way to New York City.

In New York, he was in an off-Broadway production of Bus Stop.

When asked by producers to change her name, she opted for Bo Hopkins, the name of the character she played and which later became her stage name throughout her career.

Hopkins playing Crazy Lee (pictured left) in the 1969 film The Wild Bunch

Hopkins playing Crazy Lee (pictured left) in the 1969 film The Wild Bunch

Bo Hopkins (pictured left) in the 1979 television series, The Rockford Files

Bo Hopkins (pictured left) in the 1979 television series, The Rockford Files

Bo pictured with his wife, Sian, 64, and their son, Matthew, at their 2017 high school graduation.

Bo pictured with his wife, Sian, 64, and their son, Matthew, at their 2017 high school graduation.

After his time in New York, he ended up in Hollywood at acting school at Desilu-Cahuenga Studios and then at the Actors Studio.

In addition to his film work, Hopkins’ television credits include some all-time classics, including The Rockford Files, Charlie’s Angels, The A-Team, Hotel and Dynasty, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

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