Actor. His career lasted over thirty six years in which he received five Academy Award nominations for Best Actor, winning twice and also received an Honorary Award from the Academy for his many memorable screen performances and the international recognition he, as an individual, had gained for the motion picture industry. He was born Frank James Cooper in Helena, Montana to English parents and spent part of his childhood around Helena - his father served as a Montana Supreme Court Justice and owned a ranch north of the capital - his mother never took to the rustic life of Montana and her desire for her two sons to receive a proper British education was the source of constant contention between the couple. She finally won out and was allowed to take the boys to England. However, She hustled them back home at the start of World War I. Frank learned all his riding skills and horsemanship while working on the ranch as a hand.. He attended Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa studying graphics and art with intentions of pursuing a career as a commercial artist or a cartoonist. An avid outdoors man, he spend a summer working as a seasonal ranger in Yellowstone National Park. When his father resigned from the state Supreme Court and moved to California, young Frank followed. Frank was sidetracked from this goal of becoming a commercial artist after landing a job as an extra in a motion picture in Hollywood. He essentially produced and directed his own screen test, then spent almost a year hauling it around Hollywood trying to get someone to take a look. It led to a part in a short film with Eileen Sedgewick which in turn led to a long-term contract with Paramount Studios. After a name change to Gary Cooper, he appeared in over a hundred films. A few of the many: Wings, The Virginian, A Farewell to Arms, Alice in Wonderland, Sergeant York, Friendly Persuasion, The Hanging Tree and his last The Naked Edge - Nominations for Best Actor: 'Beau Geste, For Whom the Bell Tolls and Saratoga Trunk - Oscar for Best Actor: 'Sargeant York' and 'High Noon.' This movie also gained him the Golden Globe Award. His marriage to Veronica 'Rocky' Balfe, a New York socialite was an unusual union. Many entanglements came during the marriage - he was often seen in the company of other women and she in the company of other men. The marriage however endured. When told at age 59, he had incurable cancer, a special Oscar was presented to him and Jimmy Stewart strode to the Academy Award microphone to tearfully accept the honorary Oscar for Cooper in 1961, which in reality was his final farewell. Gary Cooper watched at home with his wife and daughter Marie. Less than four weeks later they were with him again when he passed away at his Beverly Hills home at age 60 and 6 days after his birthday. After a Requiem Mass at the Church of The Good Shepherd, he was interred in the Grotto Section of Holy Cross Cemetery located in the Los Angeles suburb of Culver City. Postscript: His wife remarried after his death and relocated to her home area in New York. She literally took Gary with her by exhumation and then re-burial at Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery on Long Island beneath a bronze plaque and nearby a three-ton rose colored boulder symbolic of the California landscape where he made so many western movies.
Bio by: Donald Greyfield
1913–2000 (m. 1933)