Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Remembering Gary Cooper (1901 - 1961)

It was 113 years ago today that screen legend Gary Cooper was born in Helena, Montana. Beginning with bit parts in silent films (often as an uncredited extra), Cooper worked his way up to becoming one of studio-system Hollywood's biggest stars. He epitomized the idea of masculine glamor, but he was never just a pretty face. Over the course of his career, he delivered a number of indelible performances in famous roles: as Longfellow Deeds in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), Alvin C. York in Sergeant York (1941), Lou Gehrig in The Pride of the Yankees (1942), Robert Jordan in For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), and Marshall Will Kane in High Noon (1952). He received Best Actor Oscar nominations for all of these roles, winning the prize twice (1941 & 1952).

Cooper is one of my absolute favorite Old Hollywood actors. High Noon is a personal favorite of mine, and his performance as a U.S. Marshall in the Old West who can't convince anyone to fight alongside him is a beautiful work of weariness and courage. I believe that it's a true testament to his talent that, as a committed fan of the Boston Red Sox, I still get emotional every time I watch his farewell monologue in The Pride of the Yankees. If you've never seen one of his films, do yourself and favor and check one out. His talent was remarkable and impossible to imitate.

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