Encore

Gary Cooper Generates Heat

Gary Cooper in ''Love in the Afternoon'' -- At 56 and in ill health, the movie idol could still steam up the screen

Risky past fifty'' — that was how Life magazine headlined this photo of Gary Cooper in its Aug. 12, 1957, issue. Coop, then 56, was playing the love interest of Audrey Hepburn, 28, in Billy Wilder's lightweight, lighthearted Love in the Afternoon. Working on location, Cooper was portraying an American playboy in Paris who liked to freshen up with a Turkish bath after a night of frolicking. In this scene he's waving his arms along with the Gypsy orchestra he pays to follow him everywhere, usually to set the tone for his seductions but sometimes just to keep him company, as here in the steam room of Paris' Ritz Hotel.

It was an unusual role for Cooper, and it was pure act: By this time, he was a sick man, getting worse. The lung cancer that would claim his life four years later was already taking its toll. But on camera, Cooper never let it show. Comparing him with 53-year-old Cary Grant, Life concluded, ''As romantic actors, the old boys are still pretty good at the game of love.''



TIME CAPSULE
August 12, 1957

Elvis fans were cuddling to chart topper ''(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear,'' while Rita Hayworth started a Fire Down Below with Jack Lemmon and Robert Mitchum at the movies. The Steve Allen Show continued to captivate television audiences, and Grace Metalious' Peyton Place was the best-selling novel.

Originally posted Aug 02, 1991 Published in issue #77 Aug 02, 1991 Order article reprints