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The first definitive biography of Gary Cooper, national icon of the American Dream, from one of our most distinguished biographers.
In classic films such as “High Noon,” Gary Cooper came to symbolize American ideals of self-reliance, independence, and integrity, but his turbulent private life was often at odds with his squeaky-clean public persona. The off-screen Cooper was anything but simple — behind Gary Cooper’s American Dream facade lay a tempestuous life. As this meticulously researched book tracks his film career in fascinating detail, it tells the parallel tale of his complicated relationships with Marlene Dietrich and Patricia Neal (to name only two of many), his involvement with the House Un-American Activities Committee and the Hollywood black-list, and his long friendship with Ernest Hemingway. With the full cooperation of the actor’s daughter as well as such colleagues and close friends as Arlene Dahl and Fay Wray, Meyers examines every aspect of Cooper’s life, beginning with his youth in Montana where he was a real cowboy before making the leap to Hollywood. There he created some of the quintessential screen westerns in movie history — awkward, honest men who captured America’s imagination with an irresistible air of aw-shucks simplicity. Gary Cooper is a robust portrait of a great star whose contradictions only enhance the artistry with which he created some of the most unforgettable and enduring characters of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
—— Tall, laconic, stoic, and strong, Gary Cooper defined the American movie leading man back when John Wayne was still churning out cheapie oaters and serials. In his prime, he was as famous for being a Hollywood Don Juan (Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood exposes reveal precisely why) as for his onscreen accomplishments. By 1951, though, he was no longer one of the top 10 box-office draws. Then he was cast in the low-budget High Noon, and cinematic immortality became his. He might have been well remembered, anyway, for having been caught up in America’s post^-World War II anti-Communist fervor. A conservative Republican, he declared he “could never take any of this pinko mouthing” and opined that the U.S. should outlaw the Communist Party. Coop didn’t like to complicate things, including acting, and, Meyers says, his hesitant delivery of dialogue was a result of being unable to remember his lines. The rest of Meyers’ deft, unshakably evenhanded portrait of an unforgettable star features many more such details. Mike Tribby
——— Well researched biography of Gary Cooper. The book included interviews with many who knew and worked with Cooper and the author had extensive assistance from Cooper’s daughter. There are extensive chapter notes and a bibliography but no filmography. A lot of good photos. On page 320 the author indicates that Bogart passed in 1957, Flynn in 1959, Gable in 1960, and Cooper in 1961. He missed 1958 where we lost Tyrone Power who was the youngest and probably most unexpected death of them all. Also, you had to read the chapter endnotes to find out what happened to Cooper’s wife and daughter. I felt the author examined Cooper’s personal life and the issues he had with so many women in a fair manor. However, the reviews of the films were the personal opinion of the author which should have been limited. Personally I enjoy The Cowboy and the Lady and the author did not even mention co-star Merle Oberon. And Along Came Jones is my absolute favorite Cooper film. If the author had kept his opinion out of the films that would have made the book a 5 star but I can only give it 4 stars.
Gary Cooper (born Frank James Cooper; May 7, 1901 – May 13, 1961) was an American actor known for his strong, quiet screen persona and understated acting style. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor twice and had a further three nominations, as well as an Academy Honorary Award in 1961 for his career achievements. He was one of the top-10 film personalities for 23 consecutive years and one of the top money-making stars for 18 years. The American Film Institute (AFI) ranked Cooper at number 11 on its list of the 25 greatest male stars of classic Hollywood cinema.
Cooper’s career spanned 36 years, from 1925 to 1961, and included leading roles in 84 feature films. He was a major movie star from the end of the silent film era through to the end of the golden age of classical Hollywood. His screen persona appealed strongly to both men and women, and his range included roles in most major film genres. His ability to project his own personality onto the characters he played contributed to his natural and authentic appearance on screen. Throughout his career, he sustained a screen persona that represented the ideal American hero.
Cooper began his career as a film extra and stunt rider, but soon landed acting roles. After establishing himself as a Western hero in his early silent films, he appeared as the Virginian and became a movie star in 1929 with his first sound picture, The Virginian. In the early 1930s, he expanded his heroic image to include more cautious characters in adventure films and dramas such as A Farewell to Arms (1932) and The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935). During the height of his career, Cooper portrayed a new type of hero, a champion of the common man in films such as Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), Meet John Doe (1941), Sergeant York (1941), The Pride of the Yankees (1942), and For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943). He later portrayed more mature characters at odds with the world in films such as The Fountainhead (1949) and High Noon (1952). In his final films, he played nonviolent characters searching for redemption in films such as Friendly Persuasion (1956) and Man of the West (1958).
Like his father, Cooper was a conservative Republican; he voted for Calvin Coolidge in 1924 and Herbert Hoover in 1928 and 1932, and campaigned for Wendell Willkie in 1940. When Franklin D. Roosevelt ran for an unprecedented fourth presidential term in 1944, Cooper campaigned for Thomas E. Dewey and criticized Roosevelt for being dishonest and adopting “foreign” ideas. In a radio address he had paid for himself just before the election, Cooper said, “I disagree with the New Deal belief that the America all of us love is old and worn-out and finished – and has to borrow foreign notions that don’t even seem to work any too well where they come from … Our country is a young country that just has to make up its mind to be itself again.” He also attended a Republican rally at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum that drew 93,000 Dewey supporters. In 1952, Cooper, along with John Wayne, Adolphe Menjou and Glenn Ford, supported Robert A. Taft over Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Republican primaries.
Cooper was one of the founding members of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, a conservative organization dedicated, according to its statement of principles, to preserving the “American way of life” and opposing communism and fascism. The organization (members included Walter Brennan, Laraine Day, Walt Disney, Clark Gable, Hedda Hopper, Ronald Reagan, Barbara Stanwyck, and John Wayne) advised the United States Congress to investigate communist influence in the motion-picture industry. On October 23, 1947, Cooper was subpoenaed to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and was asked if he had observed any “communist influence” in Hollywood.
Cooper recounted statements he had heard suggesting the Constitution was out of date and that Congress was an unnecessary institution, comments which Cooper said he found to be “very un-American”, and testified that he had rejected several scripts because he thought they were “tinged with communist ideas”. Unlike some other witnesses, Cooper did not name any individuals or scripts.
In 1951, while making High Noon, Cooper befriended the film’s screenwriter, Carl Foreman, who had been a member of the Communist Party. When Foreman was subpoenaed by the HUAC, Cooper put his career on the line to defend Foreman. When John Wayne and others threatened Cooper with blacklisting himself and the loss of his passport if he did not walk off the film, Cooper gave a statement to the press in support of Foreman, calling him “the finest kind of American”. When producer Stanley Kramer removed Foreman’s name as screenwriter, Cooper and director Fred Zinnemann threatened to walk off the film if Foreman’s name were not restored. Foreman later said that of all his friends and allies and colleagues in Hollywood, “Cooper was the only big one who tried to help. The only one.” Cooper even offered to testify on Foreman’s behalf before the committee, but character witnesses were not allowed. Foreman always sent future scripts to Cooper for first refusal, including The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Key, and The Guns of Navarone. Cooper had to turn them down because of his age.Religion – Cooper was baptized in the Church of All Saints, Houghton Regis, in Bedfordshire, England, in December 1911, and was raised in the Episcopal Church in the United States. While he was not an observant Christian for most of his adult life, many of his friends believed he had a deeply spiritual side.
Religion – Cooper was baptized in the Church of All Saints, Houghton Regis, in Bedfordshire, England, in December 1911, and was raised in the Episcopal Church in the United States. While he was not an observant Christian for most of his adult life, many of his friends believed he had a deeply spiritual side.
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