Movie Stars: Cooper, Gary–Iconic Performances

Starring Gary Cooper

For over three decades, Gary Cooper was Hollywood’s consummate everyman, a refreshingly sincere, unaffected screen presence who imbued his common heroes with authenticity and simple dignity. Emerging as a star in the late silent era, the lanky, strikingly handsome Cooper established himself as a western hero in Henry King’s hugely popular The Winning of Barbara Worth and a romantic leading man in the swooning World War I melodrama Lilac Time. But it was with the coming of sound that Cooper truly came into his own, embodying all-American decency and courage in classics like Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Sergeant York, and The Pride of the Yankees as well as the spirit of the frontier in definitive westerns like The Westerner and Man of the West. His relaxed charm also made him a perfect comic foil to Barbara Stanwyck in Howard Hawks’s screwball riot Ball of Fire, while his innate gravitas anchored prestige dramas like The Fountainhead. It was this ability to play across genres while remaining inimitably himself that made Cooper one of classic Hollywood’s most enduring icons.

The Winning of Barbara Worth, Henry King, 1926
Lilac Time, George Fitzmaurice, 1928
A Farewell to Arms, Frank Borzage, 1932
The Wedding Night, King Vidor, 1935
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Frank Capra, 1936
The Adventures of Marco Polo, Archie Mayo, 1938
The Cowboy and the Lady, H. C. Potter, 1938
The Real Glory, Henry Hathaway, 1939
The Westerner, William Wyler, 1940
Ball of Fire, Howard Hawks, 1941
Sergeant York, Howard Hawks, 1941*
The Pride of the Yankees, Sam Wood, 1942
The Fountainhead, King Vidor, 1949
Task Force, Delmer Daves, 1949
Vera Cruz, Robert Aldrich, 1954
Friendly Persuasion, William Wyler, 1956
Love in the Afternoon, Billy Wilder, 1957
Man of the West, Anthony Mann, 1958
The Hanging Tree, Delmer Daves, 1959