May 30, 2010; Source: Tonic | For oldsters like this Newswire writer, the late Dennis Hopper became a movie icon because of “Easy Rider” (Jack Nicholson’s first big film, by the way), but most of our younger readers probably remember him for his Oscar-nominated role in “Hoosiers” or his bad cop role in “Speed,” or perhaps in the cult classic “River’s Edge.”
In the wake of his death last month, there have been a few short pieces about his charitable endeavors, or at least his willingness to participate in charitable fundraisers for the V Foundation for Cancer Research (like Jimmy Valvano, Hopper died from cancer) and the Sanela Diana Jenkins International Human Rights Project (aimed at bringing war criminals to trial through legal and technological means). For the latter, he worked with a politically and socially eclectic group of stars ranging from George Clooney to Elton John to Kid Rock.
The odd note in this Tonic article is that it says Hopper was also a charitable supporter of the liberal Center for American Progress, even though Hopper has long been seen as one of Hollywood’s politically conservative actors. Our interest in the Hopper obit, besides remembering the young Hopper (even from his role in “Rebel Without a Cause”), was the Sanela Diana Jenkins project. Jenkins apparently is a wealthy Bosnian-born Los Angeles philanthropist with an international human rights bent, in part because her brother was killed in the Bosnian war.
Sometimes, politics don’t matter. Jenkins and the hardly conservative Sean Penn reportedly created the Jenkins-Penn Haitian Relief Organization delivering hospital supplies after the earthquake. Her eponymous human rights project (at the University of California at Los Angeles) has a number of interesting projects, including The Sanela Diana Jenkins Human Rights ‘Fire Alarm’ website, which will “Enable witnesses of human rights violations to upload video, audio, or textual evidence of human rights violations captured on various technologies such as cell phones or satellite phones; generate a live, real-time ‘crime map’ of unfolding abuses in a particular country; (and) serve as a repository of evidence for use in future prosecution of perpetrators.” It seems like a good project for Hopper to have been associated with.—Rick Cohen