"Nan (Collins, a studio casting director) came from Gary, Indiana, and suggested I adopt that name. She felt it was more exciting than Frank. I figured I'd give it a try. Good thing she didn't come from Poughkeepsie."
- Gary Cooper
Frank James Cooper was born on May 7, 1901 in Helena, Montana, and was raised on a ranch. He attended Wesleyan College and while there was injured in an automobile accident. After this he retreated to his father's ranch, where he perfected riding skills that would later prove worth something in western movies. He originally wanted to be a political cartoonist, but when that didn't work out he was persuaded by friends to be a cowboy extra in movies.
Agent Nan Collins found him work opposite Clara Bow in "The Winning of Barbara Worth," and more films began to follow. He improved his acting skills and when talkies were introduced, mad ea comfortable switch in the successful film "The Virginian" in 1929. Roles that followed this included "Design for Living," "Lives of the Bengal Lancers" and "Sergeant York," which he won an Academy Award for in 1941. After this he played baseball legend Lou Gehrig in "Pride of the Yankees," which became one of his most beloved roles.
Cooper married Veronica Balfe in 1933. Through the years, more and more of his films were westerns, the most famous of these probably being "High Noon" in 1952. He was plagued with a painful recurring illness in his later years, which eventually turned into cancer. He died on May 13, 1961 in Beverly Hills.
During his acting career he worked with a variety of stars and directors, including Cecil B. De Mille, Lloyd Bridges, Grace Kelly and Walter Brennan. He was close friends with Jimmy Stewart.
Some of his film credits include:
"It's a Big Country"
"You're in the Navy Now"
"Cloak and Dagger"
"For Whom the Bell Tolls"
"The Adventures of Marco Polo"
"Lest We Forget"
"Now and Forever"
"One Sunday Afternoon"
"A Farewell to Arms"
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