On this day 13th May in 1961 legendary American film actor Gary Cooper died aged 60 from cancer.
Gary Cooper was born in Montana on the 7th of May 1901. He started acting in 1925 and his first big break as a movie star came in 1929 in The Virginian.
The studios had him pegged for heroic roles and carved out an image for him as the ideal american hero. His onscreen persona and his authentic, natural, understated acting style meant he appealed strongly to both male and female cinema goers which was a dream for the film studios. The many films he starred in included
A farewell to arms (1932) based on the semi autobiographical writings of Ernest Hemingway were he played an american serving as an ambulance driver in the Italian army. A romantic wartime drama were he was paired up with Helen Hayes.
Now and forever (1934) alongside Carole Lombard and a very young Shirley Temple. Cooper plated the role of a criminal father trying to go straight for the sake of his daughter played by a 6/7 year old Shirley Temple.
Sergeant York (1941) directed by the legendary Howard Hawks. A biographical film of much decorated american soldier Alvin York.
Ball of fire (1941) a screwball comedy with Barbara Stanwyck.
Love in the afternoon (1957) A Billy Wilder directed romantic comedy alongside iconic leading lady Audrey Hepburn.
He won two oscars. One for High Noon in 1953 and one for Sergeant York in 1942.
Random facts about Gary Cooper include :
His name was Frank Cooper but there were other actors registered with the union under this name and variations of it so he chose the name Gary after a town in Indiana were he spent much of his upbringing apparently.
He is thought to have had a brief affair with Marlene Dietrich during the filming of Morocco in 1930.
Whilst married he had a stormy affair with actress Patricia Beal who later claimed he hit her after she went on a date with Kirk Douglas and also accused him of arranging for her to have an abortion when she fell pregnant by him (Cooper not Douglas!)
During a period of separation from his wife he is rumoured to have bedded Grace Kelly.
When it was announced he was terminally ill he received telegrams from the Pope and Queen Elizabeth the second and a telephone call from JFK.
A number of his films have been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the library of congress as culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.