In Hollywood there are celebrities—tabloid fodder, actors, It girls. And then there are the bona fide movie stars—those we know by one name: Bogart, Beatty, Cooper. Last fall, for the fiftieth anniversary of Gary Cooper’s death, the actor’s only child, Maria Cooper Janis, collaborated with the men’s fashion writer G. Bruce Boyer and Ralph Lauren to produce Gary Cooper: Enduring Style, a collection of photographs that paints an intimate and complex portrait of the star, who came from a small town in Montana and became a legend. Some of the images are iconic—Clark Gable and Jimmy Stewart share a laugh in their picture-perfect tuxedos—and others are so intimate that we feel like we’re there (alongside Hemingway, Picasso, and other one-name-only luminaries). As the photos attest, Cooper lived beautifully, and that impeccable beauty has not aged one bit.
Whether sneaking under a barbed-wire fence with his wife, Veronica (“Rocky”)—she in a full-length fur, no less—or lounging on a lawn in head-to-toe buckskin, Cooper portrays (and the images in Enduring Style show) a modern American life lived to the fullest. Yet it’s the tales behind these photos that prove even more compelling. What follows are, in his daughter’s words, a few of her favorite stories.
All images are from Gary Cooper: Enduring Style, by G. Bruce Boyer and Maria Cooper Janis, published by powerHouse Books.
Cary Randolph Fuller is the women’s fashion editor at Ralph Lauren.