While he always played the hero, he did so in a wide variety of dramatic contexts, giving identically convincing performances in Ball of Fire , For Whom the Bell Tolls , Friendly Persuasion , Mr. To be sure, he did make some odd westerns not counting silents.
Similarly, his line readings are always admirably direct and straightforward, but hardly ever distinctive. Wayne, by contrast, never failed to put an indelibly personal spin on his lines. Pick it up. Above all, Cooper had access to an emotion from which Wayne consistently steered clear: self-doubt. It is his ability to project doubt that is at the heart of High Noon , in which he plays a small-town marshal who, faced with a crisis, gradually realizes that no one in town will help him. At no point does he succumb to fear—he is, after all, Gary Cooper—but when the clock runs out, it becomes shockingly clear that he doubts both his ability to live through the day and, more disturbingly, the wisdom of his decision to stand up for what he knows is right.
Small wonder that Wayne briefly lost his temper when his secretary praised a screenplay to him as being full of ambiguity. One may take leave to doubt that she quoted him precisely. It is no accident that the two Wayne performances most admired by critics are in Red River and The Searchers , in which he plays strong but misguided men who are tempted to commit acts of great evil.
But the fact that he so rarely played such men goes a long way toward explaining his enduring popularity. Unlike Cooper, Wayne was almost always forthrightly heroic, which is why his films are so comforting to watch at a time when such heroism is viewed askance by the culture in which we live. Our antiheroes are dark knights who are too deeply wounded to be fully trusted, just as our psychopathic villains are too sympathetic to be unequivocally hated. But I say why the hell not?
Given their comparable movie careers, why is John Wayne still an icon while Gary Cooper is all but forgotten? Gary Cooper Thomas Fluharty. It succeeded only at the European box office market. In the fall of , Cooper appeared in H. Potter 's romantic comedy The Cowboy and the Lady with Merle Oberon , about a sweet-natured rodeo cowboy who falls in love with the wealthy daughter of a presidential hopeful, believing her to be a poor, hard-working lady's maid.
In the next two years, Cooper was more discerning about the roles he accepted and made four successful large-scale adventure and cowboy films. Wellman 's adventure film Beau Geste , he plays one of three daring English brothers who join the French Foreign Legion in the Sahara to fight local tribes. In Henry Hathaway 's The Real Glory , he plays a military doctor who accompanies a small group of American Army officers to the Philippines to help the Christian Filipinos defend themselves against Muslim radicals.
Cooper returned to the Western genre in William Wyler 's The Westerner with Walter Brennan and Doris Davenport , about a drifting cowboy who defends homesteaders against Roy Bean , a corrupt judge known as the "law west of the Pecos ". The early s were Cooper's prime years as an actor. That same year, Cooper made two films with director and good friend Howard Hawks.
York ,  one of the most decorated American soldiers in World War I. Shucks, I've been in the business sixteen years and sometimes dreamed I might get one of these. That's all I can say Funny when I was dreaming I always made a better speech. While researching slang, he meets Stanwyck's flirtatious burlesque stripper Sugarpuss O'Shea who blows the dust off their staid life of books. Cooper's only film appearance in was also his last under his Goldwyn contract. After Gehrig's widow visited the actor and expressed her desire that he portray her husband,  Cooper accepted the role that covered a twenty-year span of Gehrig's life—his early love of baseball, his rise to greatness, his loving marriage, and his struggle with illness, culminating in his farewell speech at Yankee Stadium on July 4, before 62, fans.
Due to his age and health, Cooper did not serve in the military during World War II ,  but like many of his colleagues, he got involved in the war effort by entertaining the troops. The group often shared the same sparse living conditions and K-rations as the troops. In , Cooper appeared in Cecil B. DeMille's wartime adventure film The Story of Dr. Wassell with Laraine Day — his third movie with the director. Wassell , who leads a group of wounded sailors through the jungles of Java to safety. Wassell was one of the top-grossing films of the year. Cooper's career during the post-war years drifted in new directions as American society was changing.
While he still played conventional heroic roles, his films now relied less on his heroic screen persona and more on novel stories and exotic settings. Robert Oppenheimer , Cooper was uneasy with the role and unable to convey the "inner sense" of the character. DeMille's epic adventure film Unconquered with Paulette Goddard , about a Virginia militiaman who defends settlers against an unscrupulous gun trader and hostile Indians on the Western frontier during the eighteenth century.
Based on the novel by Ayn Rand who also wrote the screenplay, the film reflects her Objectivist philosophy and attacks the concepts of altruism and collectivism while promoting the virtues of selfishness and individualism. Deeds out of his element". Unable to gain the support of the frightened townspeople, and abandoned by his young bride, Kane nevertheless stays to face the outlaws alone. In , Cooper appeared in Henry Hathaway's Western drama Garden of Evil , with Susan Hayward , about three soldiers of fortune in Mexico hired to rescue a woman's husband. During this period, Cooper struggled with health problems.
As well as his ongoing treatment for ulcers, he suffered a severe shoulder injury during the filming of Blowing Wild when he was hit by metal fragments from a dynamited oil well. In , he appeared in Otto Preminger 's biographical war drama The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell , about the World War I general who tried to convince government officials of the importance of air power, and was court-martialed after blaming the War Department for a series of air disasters.
In the film, which was based on the novel by John O'Hara ,  Cooper plays an attorney whose life is ruined by a double-crossing politician and his own secret affair with his daughter's young roommate. Despite his ongoing health problems and several operations for ulcers and hernias , Cooper continued to work in action films. Cobb , about a reformed outlaw and killer who is forced to confront his violent past when the train he is riding in is held up by his former gang members. After his Warner Bros. While Cooper received positive reviews, Variety and Films in Review felt he was too old for the part.
Cooper was formally introduced to his future wife, twenty-year-old New York debutante Veronica Balfe , [Note 6] on Easter Sunday at a party given by her uncle, art director Cedric Gibbons. Prior to his marriage, Cooper had a series of romantic relationships with leading actresses, beginning in with Clara Bow , who advanced his career by helping him get one of his first leading roles in Children of Divorce.
After he was married in December , Cooper remained faithful to his wife until the summer of , when he began an affair with Ingrid Bergman during the production of For Whom the Bell Tolls. He also confessed that he was in love with Neal, and continued to see her. Cooper biographers have explored his friendship in the late twenties with the openly gay actor Anderson Lawler , with whom Cooper shared a house on and off for a year, while at the same time seeing Clara Bow, Evelyn Brent and Lupe Velez. A year after his death in , Irene committed suicide by jumping from the 11th floor of the Knickerbocker Hotel, after telling Doris Day of her grief over Cooper's death.
For me the really satisfying things I do are offered me, free, for nothing. Ever go out in the fall and do a little hunting? See the frost on the grass and the leaves turning? Spend a day in the hills alone, or with good companions? Watch a sunset and a moonrise? Notice a bird in the wind? A stream in the woods, a storm at sea, cross the country by train, and catch a glimpse of something beautiful in the desert, or the farmlands? Free to everybody Both men admired the work of Rudyard Kipling —Cooper kept a copy of the poem " If— " in his dressing room—and retained as adults Kipling's sense of boyish adventure.
As well as admiring Cooper's hunting skills and knowledge of the outdoors, Hemingway believed his character matched his screen persona,  once telling a friend, "If you made up a character like Coop, nobody would believe it. He's just too good to be true. Cooper's social life generally centered on sports, outdoor activities, and dinner parties with his family and friends from the film industry, including directors Henry Hathaway, Howard Hawks, William Wellman, and Fred Zinnemann, and actors Joel McCrea, James Stewart, Barbara Stanwyck, and Robert Taylor.
Cooper was naturally reserved and introspective, and loved the solitude of outdoor activities. Like his father, Cooper was a conservative Republican ; he voted for Calvin Coolidge in , Herbert Hoover in and , and campaigned for Wendell Willkie in Roosevelt ran for an unprecedented fourth presidential term in , Cooper campaigned for Thomas E. Dewey and criticized Roosevelt for being dishonest and adopting "foreign" ideas. Our country is a young country that just has to make up its mind to be itself again.
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. Cooper recounted statements he'd heard suggesting that the Constitution was out of date and that Congress was an unnecessary institution—comments that 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".
In , while making High Noon , Cooper became friends with the film's screenwriter, Carl Foreman, who had been a member of the Communist Party. When John Wayne and others threatened Cooper with blacklisting himself and the loss of his passport if he didn't 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 wasn't put back on. Foreman later said that, of all his friends and allies and colleagues in Hollywood, "Cooper was the only big one who tried to help him. The only one". Cooper had to turn them down because of his age. On April 14, , Cooper underwent surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston for an aggressive form of prostate cancer that had metastasized to his colon.
On December 27, his wife learned from their family doctor that Cooper's cancer had spread to his lungs and bones and was inoperable. In mid-January, Cooper took his family to Sun Valley for their last vacation together. And Coop, I want you to know this, that with this goes all the warm friendship and the affection and the admiration and the deep, the deep respect of all of us. We're very, very proud of you, Coop.
All of us are tremendously proud. In his last public statement on May 4, Cooper said, "I know that what is happening is God's will. I am not afraid of the future. Naturalness is hard to talk about, but I guess it boils down to this: You find out what people expect of your type of character and then you give them what they want. That way, an actor never seems unnatural or affected no matter what role he plays.
Cooper's acting style consisted of three essential characteristics: his ability to project elements of his own personality onto the characters he portrayed, to appear natural and authentic in his roles, and to underplay and deliver restrained performances calibrated for the camera and the screen. They try not to act but to be themselves, to respond or react. They refuse to say or do anything they feel not to be consonant with their own characters.
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Cooper's ability to project his personality onto his characters played an important part in his appearing natural and authentic on screen. Actor John Barrymore said of Cooper, "This fellow is the world's greatest actor. He does without effort what the rest of us spend our lives trying to learn—namely, to be natural.
He gets at it from the inside, from his own clear way of looking at life. Watch him inoculate the girl against cholera—the casual jab of the needle, and the dressing slapped on while he talks, as though a thousand arms had taught him where to stab and he doesn't have to think anymore. Cooper's style of underplaying before the camera surprised many of his directors and fellow actors. Even in his earliest feature films, he recognized the camera's ability to pick up slight gestures and facial movements.
He was a strange actor because you'd look at him during a scene and you'd think But when you saw the rushes in the projection room the next day you could read in his face all the things he'd been thinking.
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On the screen he's perfect, yet on the set you'd swear it's the worst job of acting in the history of motion pictures. Fellow actors admired his abilities as an actor. Commenting on her two films playing opposite Cooper, actress Ingrid Bergman concluded, "The personality of this man was so enormous, so overpowering—and that expression in his eyes and his face, it was so delicate and so underplayed. You just didn't notice it until you saw it on the screen. I thought he was marvelous; the most underplaying and the most natural actor I ever worked with. He is quiet and natural, somehow different from the other cast members.
He does something mysterious with his eyes and shoulders that is much more like 'being' than 'acting'.
The Hollywood Collection - Gary Cooper: The Face of a Hero (DVD, 2011)
I really fell in love with Gary Cooper, and his stuff. That sucked me into the Westerns. Before, I never got engrossed in the story. I'd just dip in, and there were guys in horses in black and white. High Noon's later Gary Cooper, I liked that. But I liked 'The Westerner'. That's my favorite one.
I have that poster hung up in my house because I really like that one. One of the great presences. Cooper's career spanned thirty-six years, from to His natural and authentic acting style appealed powerfully to both men and women,  and his range of performances included roles in most major movie genres, including Westerns, war films, adventure films, drama films, crime films, romance films, comedy films, and romantic comedy films. He appeared on the Motion Picture Herald exhibitor's poll of top ten film personalities for twenty-three consecutive years, from to In over half of his feature films, Cooper portrayed Westerners, soldiers, pilots, sailors, and explorers—all men of action.
In the post-war years, Cooper attempted broader variations on his screen image, which now reflected a hero increasingly at odds with the world who must face adversity alone The Fountainhead and High Noon. On February 6, , Cooper was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at Hollywood Boulevard for his contribution to the film industry. On May 6, , he was awarded the French Order of Arts and Letters in recognition of his significant contribution to the arts. More than a half century after his death, Cooper's enduring legacy, according to biographer Jeffrey Meyers, is his image of the ideal American hero preserved in his film performances.
The strong, silent type. Jennifer Melfi. The following is a list of feature films in which Cooper appeared in a leading role.
Gary Cooper: The Face of a Hero | Hollywood Idols
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other people named Gary Cooper, see Gary Cooper disambiguation. Helena, Montana , U. Los Angeles , California , U. Veronica Balfe m. Main article: Gary Cooper filmography. He found it mildly irritating to be corrected by the five-year-old, who knew everyone's lines. He's one of the nicest fellows I know.
I don't know anybody any nicer. Dunstable Borough Gazette. March 30, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on January 27, Retrieved January 5, April 17, Deeds Goes to Town". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 19, Retrieved December 18, Archived from the original on July 6, Archived from the original on January 18, Retrieved January 18, Archived from the original on May 30, Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on December 20, Retrieved December 12, Archived from the original on February 11, Retrieved September 18, Archived from the original on August 10, Retrieved August 26, Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life.
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