Last week we showed you Ty Power and his Dusenberg. This Monday we’ll motor with another star who was a big fan of that model auto, Gary Cooper.
Hello Everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, back again with a photo from the Golden Days of Hollywood.
The above shot was taken on the Paramount lot back in the very early 1930s when Cooper was showing off his new car to fellow actor William Powell. Frankly, at first glance, it appears that Powell looks to be the real Dusenberg owner. He appears to be allowing Cooper to get a momentary feel of what it’s like to sit behind the wheel of one of these beauties.
The attire of each is telling, of course. Cooper is shown in the garb of one of the westerns he was shooting; Powell dressed as the man about town, obviously shooting the type of picture he was noted for.
But for many readers of the newspapers which carried this photograph the car was the star. It was probably the only time the average Joe would see a Dusenberg, unless he lived in Los Angeles, Chicago or New York.
These cars were special. They weren’t nicknamed “Duesies” for nothing. Very expensive, they reeked of luxury. Interestingly, they were not European made but hand built (from 1913 to 1937) in a factory in Indiana.
Although he led a life of old-fashioned Hollywood-style luxury, Cooper was not snotty about his Dusenberg or much anything else for that matter.
Oscar winner Ernest Borgnine, a hardnosed and shrewd judge of talent in his own right, recalled working with Cooper (in 1954’s Vera Cruz) more than a quarter century after the above photo was taken. (Ernie got to know Cooper well on that western, which is well worth another look today.)
Wrote Borgnine: That six-foot-three legend was a perfect gentleman, an absolutely wonderful man. He never got excited, never got angry, never got flustered. If he flubbed a line…he apologized to the actors and director and we did it again…He was one of the most brilliant actors I’ve ever worked with, and I’ve worked with some pretty good ones.
British writer-critic David Thomson notes that in his long career, Cooper never played a malicious or dishonest man.