American graffiti actor Bo Hopkins dies of heart attack at 80

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 a heart attack. His death was confirmed on his official website, type report.

“It is with great sadness that we announce Bo has passed away,” said a statement on the website. “Bo loved hearing from fans around the world, and although he has not been able to reply to every email over the past few years, he is very happy. Glad to hear from each of you.”

Hopkins’ illustrious career spanned five decades and had more than a hundred television and film roles. A versatile character actor with a keen ability to play a bad guy as well as a good guy, making him a favorite among adoring fans and directors who work with him.

Some of his outstanding film roles include the qualifying bank robber in the 1972 classic The Getaway, Clarence ‘Crazy’ Lee in the 1969 film The Wild Bunch, and the weapons expert in the 1975 film The Killer Elite, directed by Sam Peckinpa .

In 2020, he starred in his final film, Hillbilly Dirge, with his former American Graffiti co-star, directed by Ron Howard.

Actor Bo Hopkins, who appeared in George Lucas's American graffiti and Oscar-winning Midnight Express, has died at 80

Actor Bo Hopkins, who appeared in George Lucas’s American graffiti and Oscar-winning Midnight Express, has died at 80

Hopkins' latest photo was this snap shared on his Instagram in 2019

Hopkins’ latest photo was this snap shared on his Instagram in 2019

After learning of his passing, many Hollywood stars paid tribute to the late actor.

Actress Glenn Close, who appeared with him in his latest hillbilly dirge, was described as “his core cast” and posted a heartfelt message on Instagram on Saturday.

“Just heard that the great Bo Hopkins passed away peacefully early this morning, his devoted wife Sean holding his hand and honored to be working with Bo in HILLBILLY ELEGY,” wrote Close. “He’s an actor to the core, with all his heart on every shoot. He’s a gentleman, a gentle person.

She continued: “In his early days, around the time of American graffiti, he may have been one of the bad boys, but I got to know and enjoyed the company of a man with a twinkle in his eyes and a deep heart. 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 left behind by his wife, Sian Eleanor Green, 64, with whom he has been married since 1989, son Matthew and daughter Jane Hopkins (Jane Hopkins).

Hopkins played the role of Joe in the 1973 film American Graffiti

Hopkins played the role of Joe in the 1973 film American Graffiti

Hopkins in the 1975 film

Hopkins in the 1975 film “Bossy” directed by Kirk Douglas

Hopkins, who played Joe on the smash hit soap opera Dynasty of the 1980s

Hopkins, who played Joe on the smash hit soap opera Dynasty of the 1980s

Hopkins (pictured right) with director Ron Howard in his final film, Hillbilly Elegy

Hopkins (pictured right) with director Ron Howard in his final film, Hillbilly Elegy

The handsome actor, officially named William Maulding Hopkins, was born on February 2, 1938, in Greenville, South Carolina.

At nine months, Hopkins was adopted by a couple who were unable to conceive. His adoptive father worked in a local factory and his mother was a housewife. When Hopkins was nine years old, his father died of a heart attack. He is only 38 years old.

He stood on the family porch with his mother, witnessing his father’s death.

After the death of the father, the mother eventually remarried. Hopkins reportedly didn’t get along with his new stepfather and was sent to his grandparents’ house after several runaways.

There, he learned that he had been adopted. At age 12, he met his biological mother and half-siblings who lived in the small town of Lockhart, South Carolina.

Growing up, Hopkins went through some challenging times, dropping out of school to join the U.S. Army at 17.

He was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division and later sent to South Korea 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 developed an interest in acting, though his wife disagreed, and she eventually left him, taking their daughter with her.

Hopkins started his career with some local theater performances, then moved to Kentucky on a scholarship to study at the Pioneer Theater and eventually to New York City.

In New York, he made bus stops off Broadway.

When the producers asked him to change his name, he chose Bo Hopkins, the name of the character he played that would become his stage name throughout his career.

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

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

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

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

Bo Xilai with his wife Sian, 64, and their son Matthew at the 2017 school graduation ceremony

Bo Xilai with his wife Sian, 64, and their son Matthew at the 2017 school graduation ceremony

After a stay in New York, he ended up in an acting school at Desilu-Cahuenga Studios in Hollywood, then at the Actors Studio

In addition to his film work, Hopkins’ TV credits reportedly include historical classics including The Rockford Files, Charlie’s Angels, A-Team, Hotel and Dynasty 》 Hollywood Reporter.