Acting veteran Bo Hopkins killed by heart attack aged 80 after 50-year career and more than 100 roles

Bo Hopkins is dead at 80 credit:Bang Showbiz
Bo Hopkins is dead at 80 credit:Bang Showbiz

Acting veteran Bo Hopkins has been killed by a heart attack aged 80 after appearing in classic films including George Lucas’ ‘American Graffiti’, ‘The Wild Bunch’ and Oscar-winning ‘Midnight Express’.

He died at Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, with his passing confirmed on the character actor’s official website.

A statement on posted on Saturday night (28.05.2022) said: “It is with great sadness that we announce that Bo has passed away.

“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’ hugely acclaimed career spanned more than 50 years and saw him feature in more than 100 TV and film roles.

Renowned for his ability to switch between playing villains and saints, his stand-out roles included a double-crossed bank robber in 1972’s ‘The Getaway’ alongside the late Steve McQueen, as well as Clarence ‘Crazy’ Lee in director Sam Peckinpah’s blood-soaked western ‘The Wild Bunch’, which set the standard for balletic film violence.

He went on to play a weapons expert in Peckinpah’s 1975 film ‘The Killer Elite’.

Hopkins’ more recent roles included his appearance in what would be his final film, ‘Hillbilly Elegy’, directed by Ron Howard, 68, and starring Glenn Close, 75.

His TV credits includes parts in ‘The Rockford Files’, ‘Charlie’s Angels’, ‘The A-Team’ and ‘Dynasty’.

He is survived by his wife Sian Eleanor Green, 64, who he married in 1989, their son Matthew and daughter Jane Hopkins.

The actor, born William Mauldin Hopkins on February 2, 1938 in Greenville, South Carolina, was adopted aged nine month by a couple who were unable to conceive.

When Hopkins was only nine, he saw his adoptive father, who worked at a local mill, died of a heart attack at 38 on the porch of their home in front of his wife.

His adoptive mother eventually remarried but Hopkins is said to have battled to get along with his stepfather and went to live with his grandparents after repeatedly running away from home.

Only then did he learn he had been adopted, and met his biological family aged 112.

He served with the United States Army from the age of 17, assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, with service including a nine-month tour in Korea.

He went on to marry a girl called Norma, with whom he had daughter Jane.

It was after her birth he stared to explore his passion for acting, but Norma left with their girl as she disapproved of his new career dreams.

Hopkins, who started out in local plays, landed a scholarship to study acting in Kentucky before he moved to New York, where he was asked to change his name.

The actor said he lifted his stage name Bo from the character he was playing in an off-Broadway production of ‘Bus Stop’.

In Hollywood, he studied at the Desilu-Cahuenga Studios and the famous Actors Studio.