Gary Cooper Quotes

Until I came along all the leading men were handsome, but luckily they wrote a lot of stories about the fellow next door.

If you hit the mark with two out of every five movies you`ll keep the wheels of the cycle turning.

I haven`t read a half a dozen books in my life

The only achievement I am really proud of is the friends I have made in this community.

All this business about me never saying anything is a piece of crap.

(February, 1942, accepting his Academy Award for Sergeant York (1941) from James Stewart) "It was Sergeant Alvin York (Alvin C. York) who won this award. Because to the best of my ability, I tried to be Sergeant York. Shucks, I`ve been in the business 16 years and sometimes dreamed I might get one of these things. That`s all I can say ... Funny, when I was dreaming I always made a good speech."

I think it would be a good idea (to ban the Communist Party in the United States), although I have never read Karl Marx and I don`t know the basis of Communism, beyond what I have picked up from hearsay. From what I hear, I don`t like it because it isn`t on the level.

(in April 1961) "Please make sure everyone knows how much their messages mean to me. They have added greatly to my peace of mind. I only wish some of the writers would take a more positive approach to the menace of cancer. I`ve got it, sure; but I`m not afraid to use the word. Some of them act like it`s a dirty word. That`s the wrong attitude. We should all bring it out in the open, recognize that it exists - and fight it! Cancer is everybody`s enemy. We can`t `think` an enemy out of existence by ignoring it."

I`ve been with some good ones, but maybe the best was Franchot Tone. I made two pictures with him and he stole both of them. Something went wrong with how he was handled; or who knows, maybe it was Joan Crawford. But he had everything - great at comedy and also at serious stuff if given the chance. Now The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935) is one hell of a picture, but you could take me right out of it and it would still be one. But it couldn`t be much without Tone.

I put in a call to Clark Gable to tell him about some deer I`d heard were running loose up in the Canadian Rockies. I was told he was on location ... in Hong Kong. I called Robert Taylor. He was on location, too, in Italy, unless he had finished there and gone to England. James Stewart was in Africa. In the old days a company that went as far away as Texas was thought to be forsaking civilization for good. Today these countries are just part of the Hollywood scene and it`s as Shakespeare said, all the world`s a stage.

(On Cary Grant) "I say he`s a crack comedian, and isn`t competition for me at all."

(on turning down the role of Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind (1939)) Rhett Butler was one of the best roles ever offered in Hollywood and my screen character saw himself emerging from the film as a dashing-type fellow. But I said no. I didn`t see myself as quite that dashing, and later, when I saw Clark Gable play the role to perfection, I knew I was right.

Several years ago, when communism was more of a social chit-chatter in parties for offices, and so on when communism didn`t have the implications that it has now, discussion of communism was more open and I remember hearing statements from some folks to the effect that the communistic system had a great many features that were desirable. It offered the actors and artists - in other words, the creative people - a special place in government where we would be somewhat immune from the ordinary leveling of income. And as I remember, some actor`s name was mentioned to me who had a house in Moscow which was very large - he had three cars, and stuff, with his house being quite a bit larger than my house in Beverly Hills at the time - and it looked to me like a pretty phony come-on to us in the picture business. From that time on, I could never take any of this pinko mouthing very seriously, because I didn`t feel it was on the level. (23 October 1947)

I don`t like to see exaggerated airs and exploding egos in people who are already established. No player ever rises to prominence solely on talent. They`re molded by forces other than themselves. They should remember this - and at least twice a week drop to their knees and thank Providence for elevating them from cow ranches, dime store ribbon counters and bookkeeping desk.

To get folks to like you, I figured you had to sort of be their ideal. I don`t mean a handsome knight riding a white horse, but a fellow who answered the description of a right guy.

I`m just glad it`ll be Clark Gable who`s falling on his face and not Gary Cooper. - after Clark Gable ended up with the avoided lead male part in `It Happened One Night` (1934), which turned out to be a huge success

The general consensus seems to be that I don`t act at all.

Nothing I`ve done lately, the past eight years or so, has been especially worthwhile. I`ve been coasting along. Some of the pictures I`ve made recently I`m genuinely sorry about. Either I did a sloppy job in them, or the story wasn`t right. (1960)

I`ve been with some good ones, but maybe the best was Franchot Tone. I made two pictures with him and he stole both of them. Something went wrong with how he was handled; or who knows, maybe it was Joan Crawford. But he had everything - great at comedy and also at serious stuff if given the chance. Now The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935) is one hell of a picture, but you could take me right out of it and it would still be one. But it couldn`t be much without Tone.

(To Robert Taylor after both had appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947) I got a much bigger hand than you did.

They just neglected a large portion of the front row.

I looked it at like this way. To get folks to like you, as a screen player I mean, I figured you had to sort of be their ideal. I don`t mean a handsome knight riding a white horse, but a fella who answered the description of a right guy.

In Westerns you were permitted to kiss your horse but never your girl.

(on Grace Kelly) She was very serious about her work, had her eyes and ears open. She was trying to learn, you could see that. You can tell if a person really wants to be an actress. She was one of those people you could get that feeling about, and she was very pretty. It didn`t surprise me when she was a big success.

You`ve got to have a fire under you, and when you`re beginning, you`ve got one all the time. After you get established, you have to create your own fire, and it`s never easy.

(After visiting Nazi Germany in 1938) "There`s no question in my mind that those people want to have a war. They`re determined to be a world power and seem to feel that`s the only way to become one. Those storm troopers are awesome. The atmosphere in Berlin - well, I`ve never sensed such tension."

(On Cary Grant) "I say he`s a crack comedian, and isn`t competition for me at all."

In my whole life I`ve never had a woman so much in love with me as Ingrid Bergman was. The day after the picture ended I couldn`t get her on the phone.

To take advantage of the system, the locals are going to have to have the technologies in place. The locals and the states have to find the resources.

I`ve had lines on my face since I was twenty. Wind and sun put them there.

(At a Friars Club testimonial dinner in 1961) If you asked me if I`m the luckiest guy in the world, all I can say is `yup`.

(Following a 1943 U.S.O tour to New Guinea) There`s no coin in Hollywood, rich as it is, that can pay a fellow the way I`ve been paid for my little effort on behalf of the G.I.s out there. It was the greatest emotional experience of my life.

(in 1931) "I haven`t read a half a dozen books in my life."

(On Method actors) It is hard to dig them because they move like hermit crabs - they have to have a shell to crawl into and they don`t want anyone to get to know them ... They are offbeat and strange and always thinking about themselves. They are always asking themselves, `Where do I fit in; what`s in it for me?`. These youngsters are doing it the hard way. They make a thorough study of being natural and being unnatural. The girls go around looking like they`re made up for a death scene in a hospital room. I don`t know why if a girl goes out in public she wants to make herself look ugly instead of a little bit attractive. (1958)

(when asked if he ever wanted to act on the stage) "Not since I was at Grinnell. When I gave them the story that I was trying to do a Broadway play, I must have been desperate for publicity. I figured it didn`t matter what I said. I learned very early that nothing you ever say gets quoted verbatim by the press. So for many years I may have clammed up, but I guess I`ve reached an age where I don`t particularly care. Anyway, I talk."

I suppose one of the most important things about real beauty is intelligence, and real womanliness - it`s a combination of intelligence and all the instincts of womanhood, motherhood, and the beauty of girlhood. These things all sort of go in together, and they are in so many people who are not reputed beauties.

I think it would be a good idea (to ban the Communist Party in the United States), although I have never read Karl Marx and I don`t know the basis of Communism, beyond what I have picked up from hearsay. From what I hear, I don`t like it because it isn`t on the level.

Naturally, the nearer the character you play comes to the character you are, the more authenticity you give it. You are not acting so much as being. The result is realism.

I like and admire Carl Foreman and am delighted to be in business with him. (1952)

It`s so phony, nobody believes in it. - On Rio Bravo (1959)

I put in a call to Clark Gable to tell him about some deer I`d heard were running loose up in the Canadian Rockies. I was told he was on location ... in Hong Kong. I called Robert Taylor. He was on location, too, in Italy, unless he had finished there and gone to England. James Stewart was in Africa. In the old days a company that went as far away as Texas was thought to be forsaking civilization for good. Today these countries are just part of the Hollywood scene and it`s as Shakespeare said, all the world`s a stage.

Naturalness is hard to talk about, but I guess it boils down to this: You find out what people expect of your type of character and then you give them what they want. That way an actor never seems unnatural or affected no matter what role he plays.

(in 1960) "People hang on after they should quit, because the urge to act stays with you. Sometimes in the middle of a scene I find myself saying a piece of dialog from 15 years ago. I`ve thought of retiring lots of times, but then I think I would just go nuts, and probably spend all my time searching for a really great Western script."

(on turning down the role of Rhett Butler in "Gone With the Wind") Rhett Butler was one of the best roles ever offered in Hollywood and my screen character saw himself emerging from the film as a dashing-type fellow. But I said no. I didn`t see myself as quite that dashing, and later, when I saw Clark Gable play the role to perfection, I knew I was right.

(in April 1961) "Please make sure everyone knows how much their messages mean to me. They have added greatly to my peace of mind. I only wish some of the writers would take a more positive approach to the menace of cancer. I`ve got it, sure; but I`m not afraid to use the word. Some of them act like it`s a dirty word. That`s the wrong attitude. We should all bring it out in the open, recognize that it exists - and fight it! Cancer is everybody`s enemy. We can`t `think` an enemy out of existence by ignoring it."

Movie acting is a pretty silly business for a man because it takes less training, less ability and less brains to be successful in it than any other business I can think of.

I feel very strongly that actors haven`t any business at all to shoot their faces off about things I know we know very little about. (October 1947)

(on Josef von Sternberg) It was apparent that von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich had a very close professional relationship. But it was only, in my experience, professional, without any love element. I got along with von Sternberg reasonably well, as all his direction and his instructions were given to Marlene, and the rest of us were left more or less to do as well as we could. I can not remember that he ever told me how to play a scene.

People ask me how come you`ve been around so long. Well, it`s through playing the part of Mr Average Joe American.

(after Clark Gable ended up with the role of Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind (1939)) "Gone with the Wind is going to be the biggest flop in history. I`m just glad it`ll be Clark Gable who`s falling on his face and not Gary Cooper."

Looked like she was a cold dish with a man until you got her pants down, then she`d explode.

My whole career has been one of extreme good fortune. I think I`m an average actor ... In acting you can do something and maybe ... some people think it`s fine, but you know inside of you that it can be done better ... You don`t feel that you really attained a goal in the acting business; you always feel that you`re still learning.

I have turned down quite a few scripts because I thought they were tinged with Communistic ideas ... I could never take any of this pinko mouthing very seriously, because I didn`t feel it was on the level. (October 1947)

(On Sergeant York (1941)) "I liked the role because I was portraying a good, sound American character."

Nan Collins, my manager, came from Gary, Indiana and suggested I adopt that name. She felt it was more exciting than Frank. I figured I`d give it a try. Good thing she didn`t come from Poughkeepsie.

Having to work hard never had any real appeal for me, and that may have some connection with me being in the movies.

(February, 1942, accepting his Academy Award for Sergeant York (1941) from James Stewart) "It was Sergeant Alvin York (Alvin C. York) who won this award. Because to the best of my ability, I tried to be Sergeant York. Shucks, I`ve been in the business 16 years and sometimes dreamed I might get one of these things. That`s all I can say ... Funny, when I was dreaming I always made a good speech."

This is a terrible place to spend your life in. Nobody in Hollywood is normal. Absolutely nobody. And they have such a vicious attitude toward one another ... They say much worse things about each other than outsiders say about them, and nobody has any real friends.

A man like Arthur Miller, he`s got a gripe against certain phases of American life. I think he`s done a lot of bad. Ours is a pretty good country and I don`t think we ought to run it down. Sure there are fellows like Willy Loman, but you don`t have to write plays about them. (1956)






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