For decades, Dennis walked Hollywood Boulevard dressed as Superman, a character which fit his tall, thin frame and full (later dyed) jet-black hair.
The performer was featured a number of times on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and starred in the 2007 documentary Confessions of a Superhero. He also appeared on the cover of a 2011 Hollywood Reporter issue along with Kimmel.
“Chris was a sweet guy who appeared on our show many times and was well-liked by everyone at Jimmy Kimmel Live,” read a statement from a Kimmel spokesperson on Wednesday. “We will miss him.”
Dennis spoke to The Guardian in 2017 and claimed he was among the first of the now many street performers who line the popular tourist area.
“I’m the first character that did this out there on Hollywood,” he said. “I came up with an idea while I was waiting tables. These people that I’m waiting on keep saying how much I look like Christopher Reeve or Superman. So I jimmy-rigged an outfit. They loved it.”
Dennis was also an avid Superman toy collector, or at least he was until 2016, when he said he became homeless after his motor home was towed.
“While I was homeless, one of the homeless guys, he beat me down with golf clubs, stole my outfit and left me for dead,” Dennis told The Guardian. “I felt like I was dead because I was now without a job, I lost my dignity and my pride.”
He continued, “So, I found myself panhandling on the corner. I had to do something.”
Through donations, Dennis was able to afford a new costume and later a place to rent, he said.
The Super Museum located in Metropolis, Illinois, posted a statement on Dennis’ passing on social media.
“We’ve known Chris for many years,” the museum statement reads in part. “He spent time with our family and showed lots of support for our museum and the Superman Celebration. Chris has had many struggles and ups and downs over the years. We hope that he is at peace now. And we pray for comfort to those who loved and cared about him.”
Dennis told The Guardian he was immensely thankful for the character.
“When I put on this suit, I am Superman,” he said. “I think it has made me a better person.”