Portrait of Ed Ruscha
Photo: Sten M. Rosenlund. Courtesy of Ed Ruscha and Gagosian.

Everybody Thought We Were Crazy: Dennis Hopper, Brooke Hayward, and 1960s Los Angeles (Ecco)

The stylish, wild story of the marriage of Dennis Hopper and Brooke Hayward—a tale of love, art, Hollywood, and heartbreak

“Those years in the sixties when I was married to Dennis were the most wonderful and awful of my life.” —Brooke Hayward

Los Angeles in the 1960s: riots in Watts and on the Sunset Strip, wild weekends in Malibu, late nights at The Daisy discotheque, openings at the Ferus Gallery, and the convergence of pop art, rock and roll, and the New Hollywood. At the center of it all, one inspired, improbable, and highly combustible couple—Dennis Hopper and Brooke Hayward—lived out the emblematic love story of ’60s L.A.

The home these two glamorous young actors created for themselves and their family at 1712 North Crescent Heights Boulevard in the Hollywood Hills became the era’s unofficial living room, a kaleidoscopic realm—“furnished like an amusement park,” Andy Warhol said—that made an impact on anyone who ever stepped into it. Hopper and Hayward, vanguard collectors of contemporary art, packed the place with pop masterpieces by the likes of Roy Lichtenstein, Ed Ruscha, and Warhol, and welcomed a who’s who of visitors, from Jane Fonda to Jasper Johns, Joan Didion to Tina Turner, Hells Angels to Black Panthers. In this house, everything that defined the 1960s went down: the fun, the decadence, the radical politics, and, ultimately, the danger and instability that Hopper explored in the project that made his career, became the cinematic symbol of the period, and blew their union apart—Easy Rider.

Everybody Thought We Were Crazy is at once a fascinating account of the Hopper and Hayward union and a deeply researched, panoramic cultural history. It’s the intimate saga of one couple whose own rise and fall—from youthful creative flowering to disorder and chaos—mirrors the very shape of the decade. 

Mark Rozzo is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. He has also written for the Los Angeles Times, the New Yorker, the New York Times, Esquire, Vogue, the Wall Street Journal, the Oxford American, the Washington Post, and many others. He teaches nonfiction writing at Columbia University.

Ed Ruscha’s photography, drawing, painting, and artist books record the shifting emblems of American life in the last half century. His deadpan representations of Hollywood logos, stylized gas stations, and archetypal landscapes distil the imagery of popular culture into a language of cinematic and typographical codes that are as accessible as they are profound. Ruscha’s wry choice of words and phrases, which feature heavily in his work, draw upon the moments of incidental ambiguity implicit in the interplay between the linguistic signifier and the concept signified. Although his images are undeniably rooted in the vernacular of a closely observed American reality, his elegantly laconic art speaks to more complex and widespread issues regarding the appearance, feel, and function of the world and our tenuous and transient place within it. Ruscha currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California.

Praise for Everybody Thought We Were Crazy -

"Mark Rozzo's deeply researched, beautifully written, and endlessly fascinating exploration of the couple and the time they spend together is an incredible portrait of a singular time and two people who helped define it." — Town & Country

"[An] era-defining love story set against the backdrop of Hollywood in the sixties. . . . The book paints a detailed picture of the iconic Hopper and his relationship with Hayward." — Booklist

"Rozzo delves deep into [Dennis Hopper's and Brooke Hayward's] lives, making a strong case for their enduring cultural influence. Telling all the right tales, this story of 'the coolest kids in Hollywood' proves their artistic significance." — Kirkus Reviews

“Turns out Brooke Hayward and Dennis Hopper were the Gerald and Sara Murphy of Los Angeles in the 1960s, as Mark Rozzo vividly demonstrates in this utterly compelling portrait of an unlikely marriage which encompassed the creative fecundity and cultural upheaval of that special time and place.” — Jay McInerney, author of Bright, Precious Days

“Mark Rozzo’s portrait of the lives of Dennis Hopper and Brooke Hayward is a delicious peek into the private world of two wildly creative (if volatile) tastemakers whose galaxy of friends and collaborators redefined modern art and pop culture forever. In tracing the couple’s peripatetic footsteps, Rozzo lands us directly into the white-hot cultural moment when Pop Art, Hollywood, and a nascent ’60s bohemia converged, yielding up revelations and secret histories on virtually every page. A breathtaking achievement in research written in the cool and confident style of an expert storyteller.” — Joe Hagan, author of Sticky Fingers

“A fascinating couple, in a great city, at a thrilling moment: Dennis Hopper and Brooke Hayward, in Los Angeles, in the 1960s — that’s the wonderful topic Mark Rozzo has taken on in his new book. He lets us see the amazing creativity that came about because of that coincidence of people, place, and era. He also lets us see the pain that underlay the art and that tore Hopper and Hayward — and the decade — apart.” — Blake Gopnik, author of Warhol

“If there was one couple who epitomized the craziness and creativity of L.A. in the ’60’s, it was Dennis Hopper and Brooke Hayward. Mark Rozzo tells the story of their relationship, and their era, in this can’t-put-it-down bio-history. Hopper and Hayward’s home was the epicenter of the art, movie, and music scenes where you were as likely to run into Andy Warhol as you were Jack Nicholson or Roger McGuinn. Compulsively readable." — Peter Biskind, author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

“Mark Rozzo, an electric and virtuoso storyteller, resurrects the relationship between icons Dennis Hopper and Brooke Hayward to dissect their marriage and its fallout, and takes many fabulous detours along the way with the artists and stars who crossed paths with Hopper and Hayward.” — Gay Talese, author of The Kingdom and the Power

Event date: 
Wednesday, May 18, 2022 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Everybody Thought We Were Crazy: Dennis Hopper, Brooke Hayward, and 1960s Los Angeles By Mark Rozzo Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062939975
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - May 3rd, 2022