On the morning of May 29, 2010, news broke that Hollywood legend Dennis Hopper had died at the age of 74.
In addition to being a silver-screen icon – famed for intense portrayals in twisted maniacs and dark hearted villains – Hopper was also, sadly, a longtime alcoholic and addict.
In 2009, seven months before he died, he announced he had prostate cancer, likely as a result of his heavy alcohol consumption. What's interesting, though, is that it's not uncommon for men diagnosed with prostate cancer to live for more than a decade afterward. So why did Dennis die so quickly?
On Sunday, April 18, renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Hunter will examine "one critical event" he believes put the nail on the troubled star's coffin in Autopsy… The Last Hours of Dennis Hopper.
"I've learned that Dennis claimed to use cocaine as a stimulant to allow him to indulge excessively in another more commonplace but deadly drug, alcohol," Hunter explained in RadarOnline.com's exclusive clip of the upcoming REELZ documentary.
By the time the actor and filmmaker reached his 40s, he was a full-fledged alcoholic – and unlike his other drugs of choice, booze could be consumed openly and around the clock.
In the documentary, his friend, Chuck Arnoldi, recalled Hopper reaching "that point where it was just about the effect, ya know? ... He had a disease."
Dennis once detailed how is decade-long substance abuse issues spiraled out of control, saying in an interview, "Rather than snorting cocaine, I started shooting cocaine. Where I had been mixing drinks, I started drinking straight tequila. That kind of thing. Just rapid fire."
At the height of his alcoholism, Hunter said Dennis was drinking "more than 50 times the recommended daily alcohol limit for men." And according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, drinking is considered to be in the moderate or low-risk range for men at no more than four drinks a day a maximum of 14 drinks per week.
Hunter noted that heavy alcohol drinkers are twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer as moderate drinkers and that chronic heavy drinking can result in severe and fatal damage to the liver.
But it was the former that killed Hopper...or so we thought.
Autopsy… The Last Hours of Dennis Hopper premieres Sunday, April 18 at 9 PM ET/PT on REELZ.
Watch REELZ on DIRECTV 238, Dish Network 299, Verizon FiOS 692, AT&T U-verse 1799 and in HD on cable systems and streaming services nationwide. Find REELZ on your local cable or satellite provider at www.reelz.com.