Cooper, Gary: Career–Longevity, Output, Shape

Gary Cooper’s career spanned had 36 solid years, from 1925 to 1961, when he died.

His last film, The Naked Edge, was released posthumously.

During those years, Cooper made 95 features:

21 in the 1920s

35 in the 1930s

17 in the 1940s

21 in the 1950s

1 in 1961

Except for one year, 1960, during which he was very ill, the industry and public could count on at least one Cooper movie a year; often two and even three.

In the first decade of his career, Cooper, worked hard, making 45 pictures (about half of his output) in one decade, from 1925 to 1935.

There were years in which he made five films a year.  In 1930, for example, no less than 7 films starring Cooper were released.

Unlike Jimmy Cagney or Clark Gable, two contemporary stars, who made their most significant films in the first decade of their career, Cooper enjoyed a longer, more productive career, at time uneven.

Thus, it’s impossible to say that Cooper was a star of the 1930s, in the same way that we can say that Flynn was a star in the 1930s, and Bogart was a quintessential star of the 1940s.

Cooper was more popular and made better and more commercial films in the 1950s. In fact, Cooper made several relevant or interesting films in each of the three decades of his career.

Even so, his screen persona was established in the late 1930s and early 1940s, or more specifically, between 1935 and 1941.  During those crucial years, Cooper was transformed from a popular actor to a mythic and legendary folk hero.  Also in those year, he demonstrated that he was a better actor, with a wider range, than given credit to before.

Cooper was a professional and versatile actor, a personality star, and a uniquely American folk hero.

Samuel Goldwyn offered Cooper $100,00 per picture–up until then, he was making $6,000 a week at Paramount.  The actor assumed that the studio had lost interest in him and thus accepted the Goldwyn offer.