Gary Cooper (born Frank James Cooper; May 7, 1901 – May 13, 1961) was an American actor known for his natural, authentic, understated acting style and screen performances, Cooper's career spanned 36 years, from 1925 to 1961, and included leading roles in 84 feature films.
He was a major movie star from the end of the silent film era through to the end of the golden age of Classical Hollywood.
His screen persona appealed strongly to both men and women, and his range of performances included roles in most major film genres.
His ability to project his own personality onto the characters he played contributed to his natural and authentic appearance on screen.
Throughout his career, he sustained a screen persona that represented the ideal American hero.
Cooper began his career as a film extra and stunt rider, but soon landed acting roles.
After establishing himself as a Western hero in his early silent films, he appeared as the Virginian and became a movie star in 1929 with his first sound picture, The Virginian.
In the early 1930s, he expanded his heroic image to include more cautious characters in adventure films and dramas such as A Farewell to Arms (1932) and The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935).
During the height of his career, Cooper portrayed a new type of hero—a champion of the common man—in films such as Mr.
Deeds Goes to Town (1936), Meet John Doe (1941), Sergeant York (1941), The Pride of the Yankees (1942), and For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943).
In the postwar years, he portrayed more mature characters at odds with the world in films such as The Fountainhead (1949) and High Noon (1952).
In his final films, Cooper played non-violent characters searching for redemption in films such as Friendly Persuasion (1956) and Man of the West (1958).
In 1933, Cooper married New York debutante Veronica Balfe, and they had one daughter.
The marriage was interrupted by a three-year separation that was precipitated by Cooper's affair with Patricia Neal.
Cooper received the Academy Award for Best Actor for his roles in Sergeant York and High Noon, had three further nominations, and received an Academy Honorary Award for his career achievements in 1961.
He was one of the top 10 film personalities for 23 consecutive years and was one of the top money-making stars for 18 years.
The American Film Institute (AFI) ranked Cooper 11th on its list of the 25 greatest male stars of classic Hollywood cinema.