He was so good looking that men admired him and sophisticated women fell instantly.
Ernest Hemingway viewed him as the embodiment of the detached hero while Carl Sandburg celebrated him as one of the “most beloved illiterates this country has ever known.” He was supremely adept in a broad range of genres including westerns, comedies, romances and Great Depression dramas.
It’s been said that he never played a mean or dishonest man. By the end of the 1930’s he was Hollywood’s biggest box office star. So — how much do you know about Gary Cooper?
Since he’s been gone for well over a half century, we felt it was time to brush up on this pivotal star who before his death in 1961 (at just 60) racked up appearances in some 120 movies dating from the early silent period through the year he died. (As usual questions today, answers tomorrow.)
1) Question: Since Cooper’s real first and middle names were Frank James, how did he wind up with his screen name “Gary?” a) He threw four names in a hat and picked one; b) Studio bosses demanded the change so as not to confuse the actor with the older brother of Jesse James; c) His agent in the early Twenties named him after the old steel town in Indiana; d) None of the above.
2) Question: Big time actors usually have breakthough pictures which launch them to stardom. Which one of the following was Cooper’s? a) The Virginian; b) Morocco; c) Arizona Bound; or d) Mr. Deeds Goes To Town.
3) Question: One of Cooper’s early leading ladies fell in love with him both onscreen and off, but eventually dumped him in favor of a popular male swimming star. Who was she? a) Marlene Dietrich; b) Lupe Velez; c) Claudette Colbert; or d) Helen Hayes.
4) Question: There’s no question about the length and intensity of Cooper’s offscreen affair with another leading lady. (Hint: this women is perhaps the most famous stroke victim ever.) Can you name her?
5) Question: Cooper won Academy Awards for his performances in which two of these pictures? a) High Noon; b) Sergeant York; c) The Pride of the Yankees; or d) For Whom The Bell Tolls.
6) Question: Although Cooper was a huge success portraying the common American Everyman onscreen, he himself had long personal roots in England and married a wealthy socialite. a) True; or b) False?
7) Question: Gary Cooper had an affair offscreen with his young High Noon costar, Grace Kelly? a) True; or b) False?
8) Question: Like many bigtime stars, Cooper made his share of blunders when it came to choosing material. Leading roles in which of the following classic pictures were offered to Cooper and rejected by him? a) Stagecoach; b) Gone With The Wind; c) The Maltese Falcon; or d) It Happened One Night.
9) Question: One of the bad guys — then an unknown — trying to gun down Cooper in High Noon went on to become an international star in movies directed by Sergio Leone. Who is he?
10) Question: Cooper definitely had an affair with another of his younger costars, Audrey Hepburn. a) True; or b) False?