Fast Facts

  • Once considered becoming a political cartoonist.
  • His father was a Montana State Supreme Court Justice.
  • Took the first name Gary at the suggestion of his agent, Nan Collins, who grew up in Gary, IN.
  • Started his film career as a cowboy extra in silent Westerns.
  • U.S. Treasury Department claimed he was the highest paid American in 1939. 
  • Was WWI hero Alvin York's personal choice to portray him in 1941's Sergeant York, for which he won Best Actor.
  • Played Major League great Lou Gehrig in 1942's The Pride of the Yankees despite not being able to play baseball, and not being a left-hander.
  • Was good friends with Ernest Hemingway and starred in two films, A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls, based on the author's novels.
  • Pictured on a 25-cent commemorative U.S. postage stamp in 1990.

Awards

  • 1942, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Nominee
  • 1960, Oscar — Honorary Award: Winner
  • 1961, David di Donatello Awards — Special David (Honorary): Winner
  • 1941, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Winner
  • 1953, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama: Winner
  • 1936, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Nominee
  • 1943, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Nominee
  • 1952, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Winner
  • 1957, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama: Nominee

Relationships

  • Alice Louise Brazier Cooper — Mother
  • Arthur Cooper — Brother
  • Sandra Shaw — Wife
  • Charles Henry Cooper — Father
  • Maria Veronica Balfe Cooper Janis — Daughter

College

  • Attended Wesleyan College, Bozeman, MT;
  • Attended Grinnell College, Grinnell, IO