LHe was paid five dollars a day as an extra and ten if he doubled actors riding horses, fighting or shooting in silent westerns. Until his lucky day came. It was 1926. It was shot Desert flower. The actor Garold Goodwin failed and then they gave way to a young Cooper. The role was very short, but the scene in which he lay dying in Ronald Colman’s arms made an impact. This is how Gary Cooper entered the world of cinema.
the ways of cowboy I brought them from home. He had grown up on a Montana ranch, ridden, hunted, roped, and herded cattle since he was a boy. What’s more, his lopsided gait and his peculiar way of riding a horse came from a badly cured fall on horseback when he was 15 years old.
Elegance, poise and a captivating sense of naturalness were not imposed. Gary Cooper was like that. And that’s why he liked her so much. The West opened the doors of the studios and he soon ascended to the Olympus of Hollywood. But before that he had to struggle a lot.
Frank James Cooper was born in Helena, Montana, on May 7, 1901. His father was an Englishman who immigrated to the United States and became a judge. His mother was a simple American housewife from whom he inherited her magnificent bearing. Gary had a happy childhood. He grew up grumpy in the open air. And that hobby always kept her; he often shared days fishing with his good friend Ernest Hemingway, another outdoorsman.
His wake is different from that of other movie monsters because Cooper did not have a scoundrel’s gold
As a young man he was sent to England to be educated. Later, when it was time for the University, he opted for drawing. He had a good hand, he managed to publish cartoons and comics in some newspapers. He tried to live from his art, but he didn’t succeed. He was a seller of electrical appliances but did not sell a single one. It’s hard to believe, but that’s how it was. He then moved to Los Angeles where some friends from Montana encouraged him to play an extra… and thus began the career of an actor who spent 36 years on screens and starred in 92 films.
The great leap was made with the virginian, in 1929. Unlike other actors who came from silent movies, the sound favored him because his voice was deep and clear. His looks also helped: He fit the cowboy prototype—tall (he was 6-foot-1), handsome, reserved, with a serious sense of honor, courageous, and freedom-loving—that he was so fond of in Hollywood.
His wake is different from that of other movie monsters because Cooper did not have a scoundrel’s gold. “Every expression on his face spells honesty from him,” Frank Capra said. Gary Cooper was elevated by what the magazine Time defined as “indestructible naturalness”. He was not an actor of methods or studies, he simply let himself go without theatrics.
Gary Cooper had an innate, easygoing elegance, a fabulous quality for a movie star. He was endowed with a “marvelous cleanliness of peasant spirit”; in the words of Terenci Moix. And that made people identify with him.
Furthermore, he embodied the spirit of understated heroism. This was helped by several of the roles he played: legionary (Beau Geste); honorary soldier (Bengali Lancers); upright man (alone in the face of danger). And war hero (sergeant york). Of this film (for which he won his first Oscar) his director, Howard Hawks, highlighted: «Gary Cooper worked very hard and yet he didn’t seem to be working. He was a weird actor because you’d look at him during a scene and think… this isn’t going to work. But when you saw the first tests in the projection room the next day you could read in his face everything he had been thinking ». He acted unintentionally.
sergeant york It was Cooper’s favorite movie because Alvin Culum York, the real character the film is based on, was a simple man who stood out for his courage in both world wars, and was born in Montana, like Cooper. Cooper was conservative and patriotic. During World War II he traveled 37,000 kilometers across the Southeast Pacific on a tour of support for soldiers.
Gary also had what Jorge Berlanga called “mischievous shyness.” Without being an unredeemed flirt like Clint Eastwood or Warren Beatty, he had the flirtations of it. He lived several affaires with co-stars; it is said that with Marlene Dietrich, with whom he coincided in Morocco; with Ingrid Bergman (her partner in For whom the Bell Tolls) or with Grace Kelly (his wife in alone in the face of danger). Before he had lived romances with Lupe Vélez, Carole Lombard and Clara Bow, but the one who stole his heart was Patricia Neal, with whom he played the spring.
The drama was set, Cooper was married to Veronica Balfe, a good, Catholic girl from New York. That forbidden romance stoned his until then impeccable image of a family man (the Coopers had a daughter, Maria) and happy.
Cooper experienced a personal crisis between 1951 and 1953 (he separated from his wife, then returned and they were together until the end), but it was then that luck knocked on his door again: Gregory Peck refused to put himself in the shoes of sheriff Will Kane to star alone in the face of danger.
The rumors stoned his until then impeccable image of a family and happy man
It was the character of his life. If Orson Welles is Citizen Kane or Charlton Heston is Ben Hur, Gary Cooper is Sheriff Kane, the ultimate representative of the line of duty. alone in the face of dangerwhich won four Oscars in 1952, including one for Cooper, is not a conventional western but is one of the titles that inaugurates a new subgenre, that of western psychological. In this mythical film the gesticulation of the actor is fundamental. The tension is transmitted above all by the clocks, the shadows and Cooper’s face with abundant close-ups in which his eyes, his wrinkles or his grimaces say it all.
Cooper liked Western movies. He also participated in Buffalo Bill; The foreigner; the knight of the west; Veracruzwhere he coincided with our Sara Montiel, or The hanging Tree. There were also slippages in his career, such as The adventures of Marco Polowho lost a lot of money.
And mistakes: Gary Cooper turned down being Rhett Butler in gone With the Wind. But the balance of his career is excellent: he became the highest paid actor in the world; In 1939 his income (equivalent to almost ten million euros today) made him the highest wage earner in the country, according to a report by the United States Department of the Treasury.
As a young man he emanated maturity and, as an adult, “with each new wrinkle, he added a degree of seniority,” explained Terenci Moix. She characterized him with what Moix calls “an exceptional sense of sobriety.”
He died in 1961, shortly after collecting his third Oscar, this time honorary. His classmates praised him. Barbara Stanwyck said of him that he was the ideal archetype of the friend that we all want to have.
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Gary Cooper, the antics of the ideal man