“Cooper was heroic, of course, in his own mind as much as in his scripts. He was manly, tall, ruggedly handsome. He was a man for a fight.” On screen he was the ultimate all-American hero: lean, laconic, and masculine, a lone sheriff battling his enemies in High Noon, or a tough individualist in The Fountainhead. Off-screen he bedded a host of leading ladies and carefully honed his image, making hundreds of movies and winning two Oscars in the process. The acclaimed film writer David Thomson explores the career and the contradictions of “Coop,” the star who lived the dream in the golden age of Hollywood.
David Thomson is the author of The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, now in its fourth edition. His recent books include a biography of Nicole Kidman, Fan Tan (a novel written in collaboration with Marlon Brando), and The Whole Equation: A History of Hollywood. His latest work is the acclaimed Have You Seen . . . ?: A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films. Born in London, he now lives in San Francisco.
Gary Cooper died six days after his sixtieth birthday, on 13 May 1961, having made over a hundred movies. Only a couple of weeks before his own death â€“ when that outcome was certain â€“ he and his wife, Rocky, sent a cable to their friend Ernest Hemingway. They had heard that the depressed author was having electroshock treatment. All they said in the cable was, â€˜Whatâ€™s there to say except that you have our love?â€™ They were not close enough to Hemingway to know all his troubles, from paranoia to writerâ€™s
David Thomson - called "without doubt, the greatest living film historian" by the LA Times - discusses his latest "Great Stars" series that looks at the Hollywood backstories of Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Bette Davis, and Gary Cooper.