Appeared on the cover of Life magazine November 24, 1941.
At first Cooper didn't want to make Friendly Persuasion (1956), not just because he felt the audience wouldn't accept him as a devout Quaker, but also because he did not want to play a father figure. This was despite the fact that he was now 55. On the set he arranged for his daughter Maria Cooper to date Anthony Perkins, not seeming to realize that the young actor was gay.
At the time of his terminal cancer being diagnosed towards the end of 1960, Cooper had signed to star in The Sundowners (1960) and Ride the High Country (1962).
Before his cancer was found to be terminal, he had intended to play James Stewart's role in How the West Was Won (1962).
Born Frank Cooper, he changed his first name to Gary at the suggestion of his agent, Nan Collins, whose hometown was Gary, Indiana.
Both of his parents were immigrants to America from England.
By 1942 he left Samuel Goldwyn and Paramount, then formed his own production company, then on October 22, 1947 he signed with Warner Brothers to make $295,000 per picture.
By June 1955 he had made 80 films from which the studio's earned $250 million and he only earned $6 million in salary and percentages.
Despite his wholesome screen image, he was an infamous (and privately boastful) lady-killer in reality, allegedly having had affairs with numerous and sometimes very famous leading ladies throughout his career. This was in spite of the fact that he had a faithful wife, Sandra, and that many of his lovers were also married.
During the 1944 presidential election the phrase, "I've been for Roosevelt before ... but not this time!" was personally attributed to Cooper, forming the basis of full-page advertisements in major newspapers, paid for by the Republican National Committee. Cooper was extremely active on behalf of the Republican candidate, New York's governor Thomas E. Dewey. He gave speeches, did entertaining for fund raisers, met with Dewey in Los Angeles, and did some personal campaigning in the film community. Whether Cooper had ever been "for Roosevelt before" is questionable. Possibly he voted for him in 1936 during the second term landslide. If so, it was not publicly disclosed. Cooper's activities were as unpopular as Democrat Humphrey Bogart's endorsement of Franklin D. Roosevelt that year. The studio called in both stars and told them to stop antagonizing fans who did not share their political beliefs.
Father of Maria Cooper.
Father-in-law of pianist and composer Byron Janis.
Has played six real life characters on screen. Wild Bill Hickok, Marco Polo, Sgt. Alvin C. York, Lou Gehrig, Dr. Corydon M. Wassell and Gen. Billy Mitchell.
Has starred in a total number of 20 westerns, 3 of those were silent.
He blew the harmonica and strummed the guitar; played backgammon and bridge; grew corn and avocados on the Encino ranch he bought in the early 1930s and loved to work with his tractor in the garden.
He considered himself to be miscast in Peter Ibbetson (1935), The Adventures of Marco Polo (1938), Saratoga Trunk (1945) and Ten North Frederick (1958).
He declined roles in The Big Trail (1930), Stagecoach (1939) and Red River (1948). All of these were subsequently played by John Wayne.
He formed his own production company, Baroda Productions, in 1958. In 1959 the company made three of his more unusual films: The Hanging Tree (1959), They Came to Cordura (1959) and The Wreck of the Mary Deare (1959).
He is the step-uncle of Brooke Shields. Her grandfather is Cooper's wife's step-father, Paul Shields.
He left America and Hollywood and didn't return for 18 months. During that time he was in Hawaii, Mexico and France and shot four films: Return to Paradise (1953), Blowing Wild (1953), Garden of Evil (1954) and Vera Cruz (1954).