Biography

Daria Halprin's screen career is the embodiment of the Andy Warhol-spawned notion of 15 minutes of fame. She was the daughter of San Francisco-based choreographer Ann Halprin, and grew up in the Bay Area. Although she never trained as an actress or aspired to a movie career, she ended up in one of the best documentaries ever done about the San Francisco of the late '60s, and also starred in one of the most controversial feature films ever released by MGM. A free spirit in the best 1960s tradition, Halprin studied dance and appeared in one experimental movie during the mid-'60s. She also showed up in Revolution (1968), Jack O'Connell's celebrated (though too seldom seen) documentary about the city's hippie population. Halprin was chosen by director Michelangelo Antonioni to play the female lead in his debut American feature, Zabriskie Point, a movie intended to address the violence that seemed to be infecting American life at the end of the 1960s. Halprin's naturalism, coupled with her good looks and her dance training -- which seemed to inform her movements on camera -- made her far more memorable in the movie than her leading man, Mark Frechette, a non-actor who was literally recruited off the street. Apart from a fairly explicit (for the time) sex scene between the leads and two sequences depicting police violence and an explosion, however, most of the movie's visuals were eclipsed by the soundtrack, which included the Rolling Stones, the Youngbloods, the Grateful Dead, and Pink Floyd. None of those attributes were sufficient to help the film earn back more than a fraction of its multimillion-dollar cost. There are moments when watching the movie (and Halprin's work) in which one could forget that it was a film, although overall, the picture was an embarrassment to all concerned, including MGM, which financed it. In 1972, Halprin appeared in her third and final film, John Flynn's thriller The Jerusalem File, made by MGM, in a major role alongside Nicol Williamson, Donald Pleasence, and Ian Hendry -- that same year, she married actor/director Dennis Hopper, who, in the wake of his own financially disastrous feature, The Last Movie, had entered a period of professional eclipse. The two were divorced in 1976, and Halprin was later known to be a successful dance therapy specialist. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi