How Gary Cooper saved Hollywood.


Gary Cooper as a man embodied “honor and decency” ( Smith, The Film 100), along with an unaffected manner that made him appear strong in the face of danger.

His dream to draw newspaper cartoons for a living was put on hold when he made a trip to California in 1924 and landed a role as an extra. Leaving his job as a Yellowstone National Park weekend guide, Cooper decided to make films a full time gig.

His roles in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town and Meet John Doe required the same tight lips and plain talk that many of his films required.

A favorite of Frank Capra, Cooper fit perfectly into Capra’s fix-society-with-morals mission. But morals weren’t all about poverty. Cooper was top wage earner in 1941 making $482, 819 dollars, and smart too- requesting a “percentage of the profits” clause to be drawn into his contracts. It was his diligence in this matter that allows film stars today to earn as much as they do, and be treated like royalty.

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