It's really not my fault. My first introduction to Gary was his work during the 1950s, the time when Hollywood starred its aging leading men with young female stars and didn't think the world would think it was icky. First up was 1957's "Love in the Afternoon." Now, I just adored Audrey Hepburn as the romantic young heroine, but the creepy-crawly factor of an aging Cooper chasing her around his Paris apartment bordered on gross. He did not age in a debonair way like his old Paramount rival, Cary Grant, and was just too old for her!!
|Sir, please send a younger model to my room!|
His first big Hollywood affair was with Clara Bow. Clara was a mega-star at the time and she knew a good thing when she saw it (she famously praised him for not only his physical endowments, but for the fact that he allowed her dogs to join them in the bath). Gary shared the screen with her in "Children of Divorce," "It," and, more impressively, "Wings."
|Clara and Gary in 1927's "Children of Divorce"|
Gary's other conquests - pre and post marriage - included Lupe Velez, Countess Carla Dentice di Frasso, Ingrid Bergman, Marlene Dietrich and Patricia Neal. His love affair with Lupe Velez was apparently a volatile one (she was, after all, the Mexican Spitfire) and she and Dietrich went toe to toe over Gary during the filming of "Morocco." Another famously hot lady, Tallulah Bankhead, said that she went to Hollywood to film 1932's "Devil and the Deep" only to "fuck that divine Gary Cooper." It seems she achieved her goal. So, what made Gary so hot? I had to find out! And, so I did.
As the decent guy who falls for jewel thief Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper's appeal is on full display. He is American to the core, shy and forthright, but never simple. He the American hero who is just complicated enough to have a sophisticated appeal. All I can say is - sigh!
|He's so shy|
Meet John Doe - 1941
|Isn't he kissable?|
Could any other actor portray this uncommon common man with such humility, honesty and humanity? And dig that stray hair that falls across his forehead.
The Pride of the Yankees - 1942
|The luckiest man in the world|
Anyone not moved by the story of Lou Gehrig can't have a heart. A perfect part for Cooper, for he is the 20th century American hero ideal.
So, okay, Gary, I am on board now. Your stardom lasted from the late 20s until your death in 1961. You were the real deal, a genuine Hollywood star. Irving Berlin got it just right in his song "Puttin' on the Ritz":
Dressed up like a million dollar trooper
Trying hard to look like Gary Cooper (super duper)
|Super Duper Gary Cooper ♥|
I love/love Gary Cooper. If you have not yet seen his performance in one of my favorite films,The Fountainhead(1948). You are in for a treat..:)
Dawn - The Fountainhead is on my list of must-see films, so I am on the look out for it for sure!
The Fountainhead is a fun/bad movie.
Almost embarrassing because of its overwrought Randian melodrama and philosophy... but those bits of stale gravy are happily overpowered by the meat of great design elements and the wonderful performers.
I think Cooper is one of those who pops to mind when I hear 'star' vs. 'actor'. I'm not sure what I think of him as an actor, but as a personality/celebrity I adore him.
I had to take the long way to Gary, too, but I actually started with Mr. Deeds Comes to Town. I actually was a bit slow to know more about him! Besides Mr. Deeds, I think he is great at Sergeant York, almost a war super-hero! And Cloak and Dagger is a nice crime film, too.
knobgobbler - I have read mixed reviews of The Fountainhead, so I guess I need to give it a try to see for myself. Actually, the fact that you can't decide if he's a good actor or not probably means he is!
Le - thank you, dear. I'm glad I'm not alone in having some trouble figuring out the appeal.
No apologies necessary in loving Cooper. We all feel the same way. (Well, I hope we all do!)
Laughed at your comment about Gary being too old for Grace. I thought that too. ha ha
I loved your look back at his career and the high points then the gorgeous photos.
It makes me a bit sad that I've not gotten around to doing his write up. I'm so far behind. But anyway, this was a really enjoyable post. You just continue to love Gary and be proud of it! Ya have great taste!
I hope you had a great holiday, filled with joy and great food.
Thanks so much, Page. Gary was sure worth waiting for.
I agree that Coop seems too old for Audrey in LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON, but the age difference with Grace didn't bother me in HIGH NOON (perhaps because marrying old guys was more common in the Old West). Ironically, one of my favorite Cooper movies, the under-appreciated TEN NORTH FREDERICK, is about a May-December romance!
Thanks, Rick - that is one I've never seen, but will be on the lookout for.
Loved your description of the aging Gary Cooper pursuing the much-too-young Audrey Hepburn. Icky, indeed!
Great post and a good tribute to the Coop. Thanks for posting!
Thank you, SS - yes, too bad my first impression was icky and that it took me so long to get past it!
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