Gary Cooper won two best-actor Academy Awards, but his third Oscar — an honorary one presented in 1961, the year he died of cancer at age 60 — is the most telling.
It cites his career filled with “many memorable screen performances.” Too sick at the time to attend the official ceremonies, the special Oscar was accepted on Cooper’s behalf by his friend, James Stewart. It was an emotional Hollywood farewell for one of its greatest stars.
Cooper began making movies in 1926, and continued right up until the year he died. As mentioned yesterday, it’s time to brush up on his career given that he has been gone for more than a half century.
Which brings us to our Monday Quiz. Let’s see how you did. (To refresh yourselves about the questions, just scroll down to the blog below). Here we go:
1) Answer: c) Cooper’s agent picked out “Gary” as his billed first name because it had a nice sound and reminded him of the steel town of Gary, Indiana.
2) Answer: a) Cooper’s first talking movie, 1929’s The Virginian, established the actor as a bona fide Western hero. It was a career breakthrough.
3) Answer: b) Lupe Velez, known as the “Mexican spitfire,” dumped Cooper in favor of former Olympic swimming star Johnny Weissmuller.
4) Answer: Patricia Neal, who in the late 40s had with Cooper one of the steamiest affairs going. But he wouldn’t leave his wife for her. Years later Neal suffered a debilitating stroke, which affected her speech. Her recovery was much publicized, especially when Neal took to making coffee commercials on tv.
5) Answer: a) and b), 1952’s High Noon and 1941’s Sergeant York.
6) Answer: a) True. Both Cooper’s parents were English, who had immigrated to the U.S. by the time the actor was born in 1901 in Helena, Montana. Cooper himself lived in Britain from 1910 to 1917. Cooper’s sole wife was socialite Veronica Balfe, who acted under the name of Sandra Shaw. Their daughter is socialite Maria Cooper.
7) Answer: a) True. Contrary to her “Princess” image, Grace Kelly really got around early in her Hollywood career. She was 22 when she played opposite Cooper in High Noon, and is believed to have carried on with both the actor and the picture’s director Fred Zinnemann — at the same time.
8) Answer: a) Stagecoach and b) Gone With The Wind.
9) Answer: Lee Van Cleef.
10) Answer: b) False. Cooper and Audrey Hepburn, costars of Billy Wilder’s 1957 romance Love in the Afternoon, maintained an affectionate but strictly professional relationship.